Heresies, schisms, culture of death, persecutions, excommunications … While reflective of headlines from today, these difficulties roiled Christians of the early Church as well. In fact, the earliest Church manual, the Didache, brought clarity to a range of moral issues that our culture continues to grapple with to this day.
Here is one of the most lucid and comprehensive overviews of the Patristic period ever written. With simplicity and clarity, Dr. James Papandrea introduces you to all the major theologians, philosophers, and martyrs of the early Christian church and explains the theological principles that guided the Church from the New Testament era through the apologists, and, ultimately, to the development of the major doctrines. Best of all, he uniquely situates the teachings of the early Church Fathers against the social and cultural context of the Roman Empire and its relationship to the Church.
Dr. Papandrea will introduce you to the Gnostics and their influence on the early Church, as well as explain how Church mothers, such as Macrina the Younger, laid a foundation for the monastic life to come. You’ll learn how our understanding of the sacraments developed and when devotion to Our Lady and the saints emerged. You’ll also explore how the New Testament canon was formed as well as the criteria used to interpret early Christian writings.
A must-have resource, Reading the Church Fathers offers helpful charts, recommended texts, and summaries of important theological concepts and doctrines. It also reveals:
How the early Church refuted heresies
How catechesis was taught and shared
The order of the liturgy in early Christianity
The marks of the early Church and the role of tradition
How apostolic succession was defined
What is meant by the development of doctrine