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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
"The Early Church" provides the reader with an excellent history of the first six centuries of Christianity. Author Henry Chadwick covers structural and doctrinal development, along with the rise and fall of heresies and introductions to the leading characters of the period.

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.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2004
I found the book excellent for history and getting a sense of the organic development of the modern Eastern and Western rites. I also enjoyed the historical context in which the book was set in terms of the political developments in the Roman empire. It covered well the start of the rift between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.
The only problem that I had with it was that it covered a few cases in a lot of detail, which tends to break up the overall historical progression of the book. During these individual analysis chapters, he jumps around through history instead of analysing the developments in a smooth historical narrative, which I would have preferred.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2008
As one who is an avid reader of Church history, I can say that this is the best volume of early Church history I have read. Henry Chadwick's account of the rise of Christianity, from its roots in Judaism to its decisive break from the mother religion, is weighty, concise and clear.

He explains how the early Christians saw themselves as Jews but that the decisive break came when they (the Christians) accepted Gentiles into the new movement. Thereafter, Chadwick explores the spread of Christianity in the Near East and eventually how it made its way to Rome. This is pretty standard stuff so far.

What I liked about the book was the explanation of the different Christological positions in the controversies surrounding the question of Christ's nature. It is in Chadwick's book that I understood Arius and Arianism, Nicene confessions, Chalcedonian Christianity, Monophysitism and Nestorianism. These controversies, which seem drab and overly punctilious to modern readers, were, as Chadwick points out, one of the reasons for the eventual split of the Church into Latin and Orthodox Christianities.

The book is not just a boring academic tome. He enlivens the book with lively descriptions of the Church Fathers; Ambrose, Tertullian and the key characters (and politics) in the Christological consipiracies. If you are interested in understanding the rise of Christianity in the Ancient World and want a readable account of the abstruse, high-falutin Christological terms that have come to define Christian doctrine then this book is a must-read. It deserves my 5 stars.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2010
I was directed to this book as a readable history of the early church. I have found it well-written, comprehensively historical, with a wealth of detail. However, it is quite heavy going, unless the reader is totally focussed and has a desire to follow the diverse doctrines and discussions that have occupied the Christian Church from earliest times. I would not recommend it as an easy read, but to someone making a study of the Christian religion, I can imagine it is a 'must read'.
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54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2001
Henry Chadwick has produced a masterpiece. I have just finished a course on the Beginnings of the church in the Roman Empire and this book helped me pass with flying colours. Chadwick covers every aspect of the life of the early church. The book is perfect for getting an overall view of the early church without going into too much detail. At the same time the book is not too brief. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in the Early Church.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2005
This is a good overall guide to the early Christian church. It is well written and easily readable, without needing a deep previous understanding. At times I did find the layout slightly confusing, as you seem to approach the same events in numerous 'thematic' chapters, rather than using a "time-line" approach. However, the reader does get a feeling of the way the issues at the time were affecting the church, especially of the conflicts that existed between East and West.
A good starter from people just interested in the subject or a good revision for those already knowledgable in the subject!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2010
Extremely readable. The fact that it's a paperback, printed like a novel, may help to make this so readable. It's detailed enough to inform and yet simple enough to assume little background on the reader's part in Church history. If you aim to learn the content rather than just enjoy the book then it will need a couple of detailed readings. In this respect other introductions such as the Lion Histpry of the Church, are better laid out with side bars, timelines and illustrations. Chadwick's book, however, finds the best combination of detail and style. I used Stuart Hall's collections of primary sources to expand on Chadwick's introduction ('Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church' and 'Creeds, Councils and Conrtoversies') - also great books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2009
I think this series is a good introduction to the history of Christianity. They may not be bang up to date with modern historical and theological scholarship, but they are a good place to start. I was given the whole series as a Christmas present too many years ago than I care to remember and I still have it. I have read each book several times and they are now well-thumbed and worn.

I recommend this volume, and the whole series to people who want an introduction into the history of Chistianity.
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on 23 May 2015
The Penguin Church History is overwhelming.The Church History is traditional,following the main thread from the Early Church up to modern times The Early Church was characteristic of persecution and martyrs;Under Emperor Constantine the Christian Church was recognized. Later the Church was divided in East and West.The story is told through seven volumes
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2005
Can't complain about it at all, it covers everything in just enough detail to familiarize you with the different elements of the period, and leaves you informed as to which areas you'd like to read in more detail.
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