The Early Church Paperback – Oct 1 1993
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About the Author
Reverend Henry Chadwick is a former Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and has been a Regius Professor at both Oxford and Cambridge. He is also an ordained Anglican priest.
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Top Customer Reviews
Henry Chadwick's The Early Church goes a long way in solving this problem. Written as part of Penguin's History of the Church series, this excellent work is a great place for those with an interest in early Church history to begin their investigations. Chadwick arranges the sections thematically rather than chronologically - allowing a clearer focus for the reader - and masterfully covers all the major currents in the patristic era without leaving his audience adrift in a sea of minutiae. Beginners to the subject of Church history may find it useful to read the book, digest the information, and then reread it, as they will be better prepared to see how the various theological and political currents interacted in the development of Christian orthodoxy.
Those who approach the topic with a theological axe to grind will not find solace in this book. Chadwick is nothing if not an honest historian and both sides in the Protestant/Roman Catholic apologetics wars may feel a bit uncomfortable at times.Read more ›
This excellent book provides an overview of so many things which casual students of Church history probably heard of but may not have really understood. From my reading of this book I have a better understanding of early heresies including Arianism (Jesus was not co-eternal with the Father), Donatism (no reconciliation with apostates) Manichaeism (a secret, gnostic type sect) and Pelagianism (denial of original sin). The role of councils, such as Nicaea, in combating heresy and guiding the development of orthodoxy is made clearer. A greater understanding of the roles of the Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian, Theodore of Mopsuestia, St. Jerome and St. Augustine is gained by the reader of this book.
From a theological or historical perspective this book is a treasure. One test I apply to books is whether they inspire me to study more. This one does. I am confident that it will do the same for you.
His unromantic approach is one of Chadwick's strongest points, and is quite clear from the way he deals with, for instance, the conversion of Constantine and the Council of Nicaea in chapter 8. Constantine's conversion is not portrayed as spectacular and immediate as we find in certain history books. Rather, we see a military strategist who initially did not quite know the difference between Christianity and the 'Unconquered Sun', the deity to whom the Roman senate attributed Constantine's legendary victory over the troops of Maxentius at the Milvian bridge in 312, but one who nevertheless gravitated from solar monotheism to Christianity.
In my view Chadwick has done the church an immense favour by writing this book. The book has been reprinted many times, and it is widely used and referred to as a reliable source on the early church. The book does not read quite as easy as some modern works on church history, and this might be due to the fact that it was written in 1967, before the concept of 'user-friendliness' were popularised. The paragraphs are sometimes long (a single paragraph would often be longer than an entire page), and one wonders if the time has not perhaps arrived for a newer and easier to read version, edited to compensate for the collective attention deficiency disorder of the culture we live in. By doing so the book might be accessible to a much wider audience.
One specific drawback is that the "filioque" controversy, whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son, is glossed over without the attention it deserves. This is one of the major doctrinal disputes to this day between the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, and was critically important at the time covered in this book (especially since the subtitle claims the book will take you down to the parting of ways between East and West). One general drawback is that the internecine theological squabbles aren't really placed in their proper context with respect to everday church life. They wind up seeming much more important to the laity than they probably really were.
Two caveats, not necessarily drawbacks: it's best to know a little something about the Roman empire, like the broad outlines of its history. Chadwick doesn't assume that you are an expert, but this book comes in at just under 300 pages -- an achievement -- and the sacrifice is that the whole historical environment can't be treated in depth. Also, it's important to have some working knowledge, like one gets from living in the West, of the culture of the church.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I found Chadwick's work to be a masterpiece and highly enjoybale. Every area of his scholarship (both from what I know and what others have written concerning his works) is as near... Read morePublished on Dec 10 2003 by Mel
If you want to find a place to start reading up on early church history, then this is the place to start. Read morePublished on June 30 2001
Chadwick's style is the perfect read for those wishing to have a deeper understanding of the early church. His clear writing on this subject conveys a great amount of insight.Published on April 2 2000 by Satomi Berry
Henry Chadwick is one of the foremost scholars of Church History. His style is clear and his presentation solid. Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2000 by David Bennett
This is a good book to build on one's knowledge of the early church if the reader already has a general knowledge of church history. Read morePublished on July 9 1999
Mr. Chadwick has produced an excellant book that contains information all Christians should know well. I did find the text some what difficult to follow. Read morePublished on Nov. 2 1998