Book review: Early Christian Writings

Letters of the Church Fathers


If you’re looking for a brief collection of early Christian writings, this one hits all the high points. For someone wanting a taste of the emerging church, Christianity in its infancy, nothing beats reading the letters and theological treatises themselves, and this is a good collection. Nothing fancy; the introduction is short and the notes are sparse, limited primarily to historical settings, so you’re getting it from the horses’ mouths.

And what you’re getting is the founding Fathers, after the excitement of the first century and its expectation of the immediate return of Christ died down. The men who took the scriptures seriously and built a religion for the long haul. Jewish customs are still evident, early doctrine is solidified, martyrs are glorified. Here’s the lineup:

The first epistle of Clement to the Corinthians

Seven epistles of Ignatius

The epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

The martyrdom of Polycarp

The epistle of Diognetus

The epistle of Barnabas

The Didache

This is a Penguin Classic, translated by Maxwell Staniforth with commentary by Andrew Louth.

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