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The Faith of the Early Fathers (3 Volume Set) [Paperback]

William A. Jurgens
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1240 pages
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press (Aug 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814610250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814610251
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 16.8 x 6.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,131,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Reference Tool 4 July 2011
I bought these books as a further tool for quick reference to the Church Fathers. The only problem is that they are arranged chronologically rather than topically. There is a theological index in the back but it is, in my opinion, sorely lacking. The first topic I wanted to look up wasn't listed (I don't remember now what it was).

That said this is still an important work for those interested in the Church Fathers or early Christianity. Another resource I would recommend, though not without it's own biases, is David Bercot's Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs. It is arranged topically, but only deals with the Ante Nicene period. It does unfortunately leave out a few key verses on topics the author does not agree with (intercession of the saints).

Ultimately no one resource will meet all the needs of the reader, and the best thing yet is to read the writings of the Church Fathers for yourself. Though labour intensive it is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book For All Times 9 Sep 2012
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For years I have been using DVD's plus a variety of books while trying to establish what the Early Fathers taught on specific topics. It was a 'hit and miss' process that more often resulted in misses even after many laborious hours of research. Now, with this 3 volume guide to the 'Faith of the Early Fathers' the answers to such queries are at hand, thanks to the impressive, systematic analyses carried out by the author, William A. Jurgens.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indespensible source 3 Aug 2008
By James H. Dobbins - Published on Amazon.com
I teach adult education at our parish and this set of books is a "must have" for my research. I never walk away saying I could not find what I needed. Any Christian who wants to understand the Church from the beginning needs this set. You cannot walk away from these books and still hold to erroneous notions like "the Eucharist was a 12th century invention", or "Jesus did not become God until after the Resurrection", or "it doesn't matter which Church you go to." All of the doctrine and sacraments of the Catholic Church are found in the historical Church from the beginning, and Jurgens has compiled a marvelous compendium of the teachings, from the words of the Early Fathers themselves, to confirm this. This had to be a labor of love for Jurgens because it is done with such care and scholarship. He clearly had the intended audience in mind by the way he cross-referenced and indexed everything. The ease with which one can use this set is a marvel. No Christian, and certainly no Catholic, home should be without it. If you are trying to decide on which books you should have in your library, do not hesitate over this set. Just get it. You will not be dissapointed. And if you are a seminarian, or thinking of becoming a priest or professed religious, you need this set.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful resource 17 Dec 2002
By Marcel LeJeune - Published on Amazon.com
Probably the most widely-used and popular resource of the Early Church Fathers in print today. Jurgens organizes the writings of the Fathers into 3 different volumes, but for what you get the price is more than just reasonable. This work makes the Patristics accessible to the layperson in a non-confusing way and when you see the wonderful referencing that has been done, it makes using the work as a research tool even much easier. If we are to understand the Church we must understand the origin of her belief's and these three books provide a wonderful tool to do just that.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catholic Church is the church founded by Jesus Christ 13 Jan 2007
By Murray R. Mazza - Published on Amazon.com
The writings of the early church fathers leave no doubt that they are linked directly to the 12 apostles and that their beliefs in dogma which go back 1500 -2000 years ago are consistent with the teachings of the catholic church to-day.The catechism of the catholic church which sets forth what catholics are required to believe to-day is consistent with the teachings of the early fathers.Is would be impossible for this consistency to last 2000 year if the catholic church were not the church founded by Jesus Christ.This volume of books proves this beyond any doubt.Excellent reading for any Christian!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WARNING! Only Read This in a Bathing Suit! 25 Dec 2012
By EricTheFish - Published on Amazon.com
What a resource! I am not a scholar and will not pretend to know how well the translations were done, but as a Lay Catholic who has an Honorary Doctorate in Armchair Theology, I must say that I find this to be a mind blowing resource. My favourite part is Ignatius of Antiochs Letter to the Smyrnaens around AD 110. It is the earliest known use of the term Catholic Church and I get chills when I read it. The Fathers are truly an invaluable treasure that has brought many Christians closer to the Catholic Church, and many Catholics to a deeper understanding of the historicity of their beliefs.

I love Protestants and think they are wonderful faithful people. I challenge any Protestant brave enough to read these books and take a serious prayerful evaluation of how closely their beliefs correlate to the testimony of these early Christians, some of whom were taught by the very Apostle themselves! Just make sure you are wearing your bathing suit as you may feel the urge to cross the Tiber by the time you're finished!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Work Performed by Wisdom is Without Purpose 6 Oct 2010
By john - Published on Amazon.com
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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.
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