This three-volume concise survey of the Early Church Fathers is really an extraordinary work, spanning ca 80 A.D. with Pope St. Clement of Rome's Letter to the Corinthians to ca. 743 A.D.'s Second Homily on the Dormition of Mary by St. John Damascene. Being a survey, you will not find the complete writings, but selected excerpts that convey the essential thoughts of each Father. If you need to read the full work, you can find it free at NewAdvent org under the "Fathers" tab.
As a simple lay Catholic with a desire to learn more about the early Church, it was a bit daunting to look at the amount of writings available. Where do you begin? What are the important works? What are the most relevant pieces of those works? In my opinion, The Faith of the Early Church Fathers was made for someone like me. It has three indices - Scriptural, General, and a very helpful Doctrinal index. It is carefully footnoted, sometimes with clarifications of the Greek translation which I found interesting, but is probably of more use to serious students.
Some of the highlights you'll find right off the bat in the first volume:
Athenagoras of Athens - The Resurrection of the Dead
"no work performed by wisdom is without purpose" ... "nothing that uses reason or judgment has been created or is created for use of another creature."
St. Justin Matyr - Second Apology:
"we worship and love the Word who is from the unbegotten and inexpressible God."
St. Ignatius of Antioch - Letter to the Magnesians:
"For Christianity did not base it's faith on Judaism, but Judaism on Christianity, in which every tongue believing in God is brought together."
The Shepherd of Hermas - Vision 2:
"Who is it then?" say I. And he said, "It is the Church." And I said to him, "Why then is she an old woman?" "Because," said he, "she was created first of all. On this account is she old. And for her sake was the world made."
These are just a few examples that I flipped open to at random - the entire work has these priceless teachings on every page.
Here's another interesting entry from Theophilus of Antioch in To Autolycus: "The three days before the luminaries are created are types of the Trinity; God, His Word, and His Wisdom."
Why is this line, written in 180 A.D., important? It's the first use of the word 'Trinity' in reference to the Godhead. My point here is that the same Magisterium that led to the understanding of the Trinity, which is not in the bible, is also what led us to our understanding of the Immaculate Conception and the veneration of Mary, Theotokos.
Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, and Athanasius make up over 1/4 of the first volume, and the content is illuminating; for instance, you'll find St. Irenaeus in "Against Heresies", 180-199 A.D. using much of the imagery found in the Nicene Creed (that's the Nicene Creed we know today; you'll find in here also that the Creed that came out of the Council of Nicea is somewhat different.) Here's Irenaeus:
"The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one," and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, "every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess" to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send "spiritual wickednesses," and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory."
There is very little "Catholic" interpretation by Jurgens; the Fathers pretty much speak for themselves, and what they have to say is important: there *is* a Church hierarchy of bishops, priests, and deacons; the 'country of the Romans' has the Church of the 'presidency'; the Eucharist is *not* merely a symbol of bread and wine but the real body and blood of Christ; the sacraments are needed, and only those authorized (ordained) can administer them. On and on it goes.
This is not to take a gratuitous shot at our Protestant brethren: many (most?) of them put me to shame in the holiness of their lives and their understanding of scripture. But any Protestant that really reads what the Early Church Fathers have to say about the Tradition and Magisterium of the Catholic Church with an open mind and an open heart, cannot possibly come away without at least some major questions about the doctrinal underpinnings of the Reformers. To my mind, there is no doubt that the Catholic Church is the true body of Christ, and I pray for the day when we can heal our wounds and come together as one against the work of the prince of this world.
One last comment on the physical characteristics of this set: the layout is functional if not pretty; the cover and binding appear solid but are not great - these are in no way 'heirlooms.' They won't look real pretty on your bookshelf, but they are beautiful when you open them in your hands.