If the word trinity isn't in Scripture, why is it such an important part of our faith? And if the Bible can be interpreted in many ways, how do we know what to make of it? And who decided what should be in the Bible anyway? The Church Fathers provide the answers! Marcellino D'Ambrosio dusts off what might have been just dry theology to bring you the exciting stories of great heroes such as Ambrose, Augustine, Basil, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, and Jerome. These brilliant, embattled, and sometimes eccentric men defined the biblical canon, hammered out the Creed, and gave us our understanding of sacraments and salvation. It is they who preserved the rich legacy of the early Church for us.
©2014 Marcellino D'Ambrosio (P)2014 Franciscan Media
"Dr. D'Ambrosio has accomplished the rare feat of combining scholarship with readability. Christians of all traditions can trace their faith to these pioneers; their story is our story."--Right Honourable David Baron Alton, M.P. and Liverpool University professor
"Gripping, compelling, and fast-moving." Sarah Reinhard, blogger, SnoringScholar.com
This book has much to recommend it, but also much that the reader (or listener) must take with caution. It’s a very pleasant and edifying listen. However, it has a number of fundamental problems. D’Ambrosio is constantly at pains to give the impression that the position currently held by the Roman Catholic church on any given issue is identical with that held by the early church fathers. For example, when discussing the Didache, he draws attention to the following passage: «οὐ μαγεύσεις, οὐ φαρμακεύσεις, οὐ φονεύσεις τέκνον ἐν φθορᾷ οὐδὲ γεννηθὲν ἀποκτενεῖς» (“do not engage in sorcery, do not make use of potions, do not abort a foetus or commit infanticide”). The prohibition of abortion and infanticide is repeated in the Epistle of Barnabas (19.5). But D’Ambrosio muddies the water by arguing that «οὐ φαρμακεύσεις» is a prohibition of “abortifacients and contraceptives.” This is not the case. In fact the first two prohibitions in this list refer to two different kinds of magic, the first carried out by incantations or ceremonies, and the second by the use of magical potions, for example to make the recipient fall in love with the operant of the magic. By arguing that the didache prohibits contraception rather than enchanted potions, D’Ambrosio evidently wishes to give the impression that the Roman Catholic church’s current prohibition of contraception has the seal of antiquity. Such distortions of the text undermine the reader’s trust, and lead to the suspicion that the author has an axe to grind.
Another problem with D’Ambrosio’s work is his approach to the question of heresy. Modern scholarship rejects the traditional notion that there was a pure core of belief that remained unchanged from the time of Jesus to the present, which various orthodox fathers merely articulated in increasingly more perfect terms. This view, promulgated by the church historian Eusebius, has now yielded to a more pluralistic view of the early church. Those who came to call themselves “orthodox” and “Catholic” were only one element in a much more complicated drama in which various groups, each believing themselves to hold correct beliefs about Jesus, all jockeyed for dominance. We have always known about these other groups. The orthodox apologists give us detailed, though naturally partisan, presentations of the beliefs of many of them. Modern scholars try to get behind the claims of the orthodox apologists to hear what these other groups were saying, without privileging the claims of any one of these groups. However, D’Ambrosio presents the traditional view, which takes the truth claims of the Catholic/orthodox party at face value. This results in a simple dichotomy between the goodies (Catholics) and baddies (heretics) which just doesn’t get us very far in our understanding of the dynamics of early Christianity.
In summary, the book is ok, but those looking for a more critical view might be better served by the books of Bart Ehrman, also available on Audible.
Are you are christian? Learning and getting to now the witness of early Christian has helped me in my relationship with Christ. If you don't know much about the early church - this book will help you get the journey started
"Masterful summary of the early Church Fathers"
Absolutely. I have read other books on the early Church and the Church Fathers, but this book brings both to life. Each Father has an intriguing and compelling story that is told in a conversationalist manner so as to leap off the page.
Dr. D'Ambrosio is a skilled orator. Hearing a passionate author speak in his own words is a great experience.
This book does an outstanding job explaining heresy’s within the early Church such as Gnosticism and Aryanism and shows how each was debunked and defeated and by whom. We present day Christians take difficult topics like the Trinity for granted. This book is a reminder of how it wasn’t always so and how Christian thought solidified through apostolic Tradition.
Perhaps most importantly, this book reminds us that early Christians were willing to die for their faith. How many present day Christians are ready to do the same? In those days it was expected and embraced.
The pithy recap of the apostolic Tradition’s points of convergence in Chapter 26 is brilliant and concise.
The early Church Fathers would be outraged to see the many divisions within present-day Christianity. Their words and, in many ways, this book is a call for unity. Thank you, Dr. D’Ambrosio for writing and compiling it.
"One of the best"
I had a bias. I had listened to this writer give a past talk that I didn't much care for, and so I didn't think his book would be much better frankly. I was wrong. This is one of the most readable and important books on the subject precisely because it is so accessible. Well researched and a fantastic resource. Fascinating read.
It was great to see ordinary human beings struggling to understand the messages of Jesus - and to make sense of it in the light of the things they had always believed. Wonderful to meet the inspiring and amazingly committed people who created Christianity
Acts is the first chapter.
It helped me understand how we became what we are.
"An extraordinary lesson for my spiritual journey."
This book further deepened my gratefulness for the depth of understanding and writing conveyed by the early church fathers.
I learned a lot and am inspired to read more on the early church fathers
"Very good. Definitely from a Roman Catholic view"
The author spends much time on heresies which is all well and good, but doesn't even mention the Constantinian or Augustinian heresies.
I'd recommend it for sure.
One of the best books on the Church Fathers. Easy to follow because it is laid out chronologically, rather than covering one Father at a time. This makes it easier to see the relationship of the Fathers to each other .
Hearing the letters of the Fathers
The discovery of how the Traditions started with the Apostles and were handed down.
He has the conviction and makes the words come alive
The beginning of the Church today.
This book like so many try to make the letters of the Fathers available to all people who want to know the truth. If read with an open mind, one might have to consider that the so called great Martin Luther might have been wrong on a few key points. If you ask me who I will believe it will always be those who walked with Jesus and the Apostles. Rather then someone who came later and said he was enlightened by the Holy Spirit. I know the Holy Spirit works in all who accept him but I believe those early Church guys had the Holy Spirit or how would they have been able to die the horrible deaths they bore with joy for our Savior.
"Great book, I recommend to everyone!"
Yes, I would listen to this book again and I want to listen to other books of the author.
The performance is great.
"Worth the Time! Worth Listening to Again!"
Great story telling. Timely work. The past has informed the present but it can be difficult to pin point why things look the way they look or why we do things a certain way. This book helped pull down some walls of judgment and confusion. We are not so different from the early church--stuggle, impatience, and the pursuit of God.
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