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The Early Church: From the beginnings to 461 (SCM Classics) [Paperback]

W. H. C. Frend
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 16.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

8 Oct 2012 SCM Classics
This classic work has been widely regarded as an invaluable introduction to the early Church since it was first published in 1965. Professor Frend has written extensively in this area over the last fifty years, and is one of the foremost Church historians in the English-speaking world. Frend outlines fully the social, geographical, historical and cultural contexts in which the Christian faith emerged and traces the ways in which it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. He then goes on to chart how the Church emerged from Judaism as a distinct sect; its experience of persecution and conflict; and the dogmatic formulation of its beliefs in creeds and councils.This book is an essential resource for all students of Church history. `The reissue of this a welcome return to availability of a vade mecum for the near-beginner in Church history that is at once lucid, reflective and enjoyable...The most welcome and memorable feature of Professor Frend's survey is that, instead of peppering his narrative with vacuously impressive names and dates, at every turning-point, whenever the climate of thought changes, he will give extended treatment to some church father or heresiarch in whose writings and career all the issues are embodied,' (The Tablet) '...simple, straightforward, uncluttered-It would be an idea! text book...or a "good read" for someone who has studied the subject before and wants to refresh the memory: (The Methodist Recorder)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: SCM Press; 4th Revised edition edition (8 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0334029090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0334029090
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 455,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

W H C Frend was formerly Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Glasgow.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A brief but well balanced review of the early centuries of the Christian Church and how the various beliefs developed. After Christ's death his followers did not have a rule book to follow and a highly detailed theology. They started with the basis of Judaism, much of which Christ did not take issue with.
The present Christian Church has developed sets of beliefs, some of which are almost universal across the variety of forms, and some of which can vary to the point that one Christian church considers another heretical (still).
This book is a useful introduction to the huge variety of paths open to the early church, what they had to consider and the political and economic circumstances that may have swayed them one way or the other. What did they consider to be without question (and why).
Who were the most important historical figures to sway the church and what drove them to their various positions.
Frend is highly regarded by the high churchman although himself tending towards low church, and his book does not promote one way of thought over another. He simply presents the ancient records in a coherent and well laid out way, and reports on the difficulties of the record as we have it today. Historic records are written by the winner, and may omit unfortunate details.
A useful and readable book for the Christian who wishes to have well grounded information on the development of the faith in the early days, and to have available the alternative paths which may have been dropped without serious consideration.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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The definition of "early church" is a slippery one. Frend uses the term fairly loosely, describing a period that is much earlier than that in which we presently live (as opposed to the interpretation of the term to mean the church as described in Acts). He works chronologically, beginning with the historical and cultural background into which the church was born.

Frend writes from a fairly neutral perspective. For example, there can be a tendency amongst catholic apologists to make claims for Rome being one of the earliest centres of christianity and for the primacy of Peter as a figure in church history. Frend gives due weight to the evidence that supports this, but maintains a scepticism about the testimony of some influential people, especially Irenaeus of Lyons.

That said, he doesn't really give an account of the origins of catholicism. In the first part of the book, he sticks to talking about "christians" but about half way through he suddenly introduces "catholics" but without stating how the latter emerged out of the former. That said, he does go onto to give an account of catholicism's rise to power in through the 4th and 5th centuries.

As the book is only about 240 pages long, yet covering around 420 years, it is inevitable that the work is concise. This is both a strength and a weakness. It's a strength because it allows the reader to get a good grip on the big picture and to see how various people and events interrelate in the grand scheme of things. It's a weakness because it means that some issues are dealt with all too briefly. Each chapter ends with a list of further reading, so Frend is aware that some readers may wish to follow up with some more extensive study.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Early Church WHC FR 25 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A classic for those wanting to learn more about Christian History. Written in a very "easy to read" style that keeps one interested throughout.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but... 6 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked this up after wanting to know about Nicene Creed and some of the political turns within early Christianity. After Christ, the church had an ardous task, competing with a hostile parent religion, in Juadism, and under an oppressive Roman regime. Along the way they have heretics to deal with, repression both from religious schisms and the state variety, a change in political fortunes, competing early philosophies and local factors to take into account.

This all adds up to something which should read more interesting than what transpires in Frend's book. You see, exhaustive as it is, it takes away something from the narrative and whole chapters leave you gazing over, because the detail is too immense. If there is a demand for a concise overview, this probably isn't it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concise, well written and informative 5 July 2002
By Mark P. Simmons - Published on
Frend begins with an adept interpretation of the Cult of the Emperor, the division in early Christianity, the impact of the various pagan religions, and how these all contributed to the formation of Modern Christianity. Frend uses a wealth of primary texts and gives unique insight into their contemporary useage and probable meanings. I enjoyed this book. I felt compelled, however, to simply give it five stars out of sympathy. But unpon reflection, it is well deserved.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Scholorship 7 April 2006
By Jennifer Tipton - Published on
I find it hilarious when people critique serious works of scholarship for lacking the qualities of mass produced surveys. Frend work is not intended for the casual reader, but instead is meant to be a contribution to scholarship within the field of early christian studies. His voice is aimed towards the audience of his peers and as such prior study in the field is expected and makes the work a difficult read. However this book is a valuable resource for anyone studying the field of early christianity as Frend is one of the most notable Historians within the field. Failing to footnote his work in any study, whether in agreement or disagreement, of early christianity as such is a major fault.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There are much better church history books 8 May 2004
By montevicar - Published on
I found it annoying that Frend mentions the new manuscripts found since his first edition yet he chose not to include them in this revised edition. One of my classmates noted it seemed a "rough draft". A history book is hard to follow when the author continues to move back and forth through time without any warning. Many passages have to be re-read in frustration to determine the decade or century Frend is discussing. The later chapters were more comprehensible than the first 15. Frend could have explained the developing theologies better.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its ok 7 Feb 2011
By preacherman89 - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Its a decent book overall. My biggest problem is you can see a lot of the Author's opinion which I would question throughout the book. But the facts he gives, and some of the view points are worth a look by those strong evangelicals who know the scriptures well.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just what I ordered 12 Sep 2009
By Jennifer Phillips - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have now finished reading this book which arrived in time and in the good condition I expected. Thanks.
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