Luke J. Wilson | 04th July 2020 |
This is the companion to the first book in the series, Forty Days with the Fathers: A Daily Reading Plan. The first book originally took form on my blog as a daily post throughout the period of Lent in 2017 (hence the 40 days), and aims to give you a glimpse into the minds of that great cloud of witnesses that have come before us through short commentary of the early church texts.
This book follows the same forty day pattern and chapter breaks so you can read it alongside the first book, or as a stand-alone reading plan with no additional commentary, as it features the source texts in full as translated and edited by Philip Schaff et al. All the original footnotes are included as well as few of my own where certain things required clarification for 21st century readers. The more learned readers here may notice that I have chosen to only include the shorter Ignatian epistles in this collection—this is because I am convinced by the arguments for their genuineness over the longer letters which are thought to be interpolations.
The reading plan follows a collection of twenty-three early texts in full from the first four centuries. As an additional bit of information, at the beginning of each text I have given a preface which gives a Who, What, Why and When so you can read a short summary about the historical context, purpose for it being written, and the approximate date of each ancient text as well. At the end of each chapter, there is a notes section so you can jot down any thoughts you had during your reading, and at the very end of the book are some useful appendices containing historical data and maps to help bring more visual context the New Testament and Early Church texts.
Each daily reading will vary in length of time to read, and by day 40, you will have read the writings of ten different Church Fathers from the Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene period:
Didache, Diognetus, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem,...
Luke J. Wilson | 24th July 2018 |
Why read the Early Church Fathers?
Maybe for some of you reading this, the question might better be phrased as: who are the Church Fathers?
No doubt you will be familiar with some of their names: Augustine, Jerome, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr et al. You may have even read portions or quotes by some of these men. But that still doesn't really explain to you who they are and why you should care, much less actually read any of their works.
My new book deals with a selection of some of the most influential Early Church Fathers, sometimes also referred to as the Apostolic Fathers (if they lived between AD 70-150), or collectively as the Ante Nicene Fathers for all of those in the period of time preceding the Council of Nicea (AD 325). It is these men who wrote doctrine and defences against heresy and helped to continue and shape the Church in its most formative years.
Some of the earlier Christian leaders of the 2nd Century were discipled and taught by the Apostles themselves. Those include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. Still others in mid-2nd century were then taught by those who knew the men who were taught by some of the Apostles. One of the more well-known Bishops who was second generation to the Apostles was Irenaeus (best known for his extensive apologetic works, Against Heresies).
From chapter 21 onward in my book, I look at a few writers from beyond this period (around 356) up until AD 449 where we can observe some distinctive changes in thought and practice.
These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?”.
So Why Read What They Wrote?
The Bible didn't just...