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on 12 June 2010
Being one of those "profane readers" the first reviewer wrote of, I will try to give my opinion of this dictionary.

I found it very helpful. I bought this book before I bought the 10 volume set from Hendrickson Publishers, and of course you can't just live off those quotes. If you're serious about finding out what the faith once delivered was you must get the writings of the early church for yourself. The Ante-Nicene Fathers is cheap and quite extensive. Sure there are many more MMS around today, but the 10 volume set is a good starting point.

I understand that Bercot put this book together for the "profane reader", not the scholar. He said somewhere that the purpose of the book was to be a kind of "10th volume" to replace the "ineffective" index and glossary currently there. Another reason was that Bercot said himself that although he had read the early church himself when a lot of people would ask him questions about this or that writer or subject he could not find it very quickly. This is related to his frustration with the 10th volume of the set, and so he set out to edit his own dictionary. I understand this dictionary was just as much for Bercot as it is for others.

I have been able to use this dictionary, and put it to good use in speaking or emailing with others. Sure you could download a free PDF version of the 10 volumes, but sometimes you just don't know where to look or what word to use. This is where the dictionary come in so handy.

I give this dictionary a hearty 5 stars.
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on 14 January 2016
Love this! Very handy if you are studying Church History or even if, like me, you like to study the history of your faith in your free time. Very challenging to see how the early Christians lived and behaved and also what they believed, contrasted with the modern Church. How much we've lost or forgotten.
www.thatancientfaith.uk
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on 12 October 2015
This book will appeal to those coming from an evangelical background. A good resource, much appreciated, but not an unbiased approach to the Christianities present among the early Body of Christ.
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on 23 April 1999
Bercot says in the very fist paragraph that this book "functions as an index to the writings of the ante-Nicene writers, specifically as collected in the ten-volume work the Ante-Nicene Fathers" (ed. by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Hendrickson Publishers). On page xi of his Preface he states that this is not the only translation available, but he chose it because " 1) the translations...are usually more literal than more recent translations, 2) other sets...contain only a small portion of the pre-Nicene writings, and 3) this translation is the only set of pre-Nicene writings affordable to the average person." These are all good reasons, but the most significant is that the Ante-Nicene translation published by Hendrickson is affordable, and thus one can assume has found a prominent place in the homes of many persons interested in these sorts of things. From this introductory material it is evident who the intended audience of this book is and it is an excellent resource for those who desire to look up the writings of the early Church Fathers on a particular topic and peruse the entire writings for themselves. In summary, the book is an excellent index for those who use it as intended - a companion to the Ante-Nicene Fathers translation . I would recommend it to anyone who owns a set of this translation.
BJM
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on 29 January 1999
This is a complement to my preceeding review, something I forgot to say. First there is a fatal failure in the whole concept of the book. Bercot avoids citing any writings from "heretics" (gnostics, etc.) but only writings from the "early church", even when speaking about heresies and heretics. But Bercot relies heavily on Tertullian and cites him very abundantly, especially all the writings he produced after joining the montanist heresy! I understand the reason here: Bercot said in his other book "Will the Real Heretics please stand up" that he himself considered montanism to be no heresy. Fine, but then Bercot in this present book is absolutely not representing the views of the early church, but his own!! This confirms what I said about his lack of neutrality and scholarship. After Tertullian left the early church and joined for a while the montanists (and then creating his own cult, the "Tertullianists", who refrained from all social activities, being in this respect even more cultic than the Montanists, although not charismatic), after this he was excommunicated by the early church and was ignored during the century after by the church fathers, or when they spoke of him it was very negatively, as of a dangerous heretic. It took more than a century for church fathers to admit being inspired by things he wrote before leaving the early church. Coming back to Bercot's book, he should either have cited Tertullian and all other heretics (gnostics, etc.) or none or them, but he should never have failed to respect the early church councils in what they declared was heretic or not.
A second flaw is that the texts used are taken from a problematic 19th century book (Antenicenes Fathers , ed. by A. Robert, 10 volumes). Since then, more documents (including unknown books and epigrapha) have been found, and excellent critical apparatus have been developped (as in the invaluable French serie "Sources Chretiennes"), so it seems rather a failure for a reference work to ignore all this progress and use a poor text such as Robert's.
A third major problem with the book is that all texts have no references to the original books and verses , but only to the pages in Robert's Antenicenes Fathers from the same publisher (10 volumes!) So if one does not buy those 10 volumes, one cannot find back the context or book from which the passage comes (unless what he is very familiar with the topic, but then one has no need for Bercot's book.) And as these 10 volumes contain quite outdated versions of the writings of the church fathers and as these big books are terribly cumbersome, Bercot's book turns out to be of very little use, unfortunately.
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on 29 January 1999
Bercot is a lawyer and also an Anglican priest. His present book is written very easily (for a wide audience). Bercott,'s laudable intent is to provide a reference work with a neutral selection of what the Church Fathers thought on many topics, so one can discover what the church fathers used to think. Each entry has a few lines of explanation and then some short texts excerpts from early church fathers, taken from the "Ante-Nicene Fathers" by A. Robert (1885 and reprinted by Hendrikson.)
However there are major problems with this book. First many entries are not provided, for example on apologists such as Militiades, Hippolytus, Apollinaris, etc. Second, the selection of texts often fails to represent the textual information we have. Bercot said he tried to be neutral, and I think he did, but the problem is that he does not have the scholarship required for the difficult task he tried to achieve. Take for example the entry "montanism": he fails to cite the major texts (Eusebius, Epiphanius, the montanist oracles), and above all the charismatic/shamanic nature of the heresy (glossolalia/tongues, fallible prophecy, trances/convulsions) which was the reason why the montanists were excommunicated at the church councils of Hierapolis and Anchialus). What a blatant omission! And then he cites many texts of Tertullian as if they were typical of montanism, apparently ignoring that Tertullian eventually rejected the charismatic aspect of montanism after he left the early church , and instead focussed primarily on the ascetic aspect of the movement, having no communion with the montanists but creating his own group (the Tertullianists). Bercot apparently ignores such things and many others. And among the many citations of Tertullian in the book, there is no information about when they were made (before or after his conversion), so the profane reader is given some texts of Tertullian saying that prophecy ceased with the apostolic times in the entry "prophecy" and the opposite in the entry on "montanism". So another problem is that one cannot make much with all these citations taken out of their context. Profane readers are being mislead if they think that they learn much with such a book, they will rather grossly misinterpret the citations and build erroneous views. In conclusion, this book does provides a "neutral", representative view of Early Christian thought, and is sometimes very inaccurate. Those interested in finding quickly some texts may find some help with this book, they should however no rely on it as a research, authoritative guide. They may be better better helped by the Church fathers CD-Rom from Wheaton College (can be ordered through the internet), which is no more expensive than this book, or they may just download the texts of the Church Fathers for free from many sites. But anyway they would better first read some serious texts about the Early Church, so as to avoid gross misinterpretations. For example I can recommend Henry Chadwick's "The Early Church". And for those who want more, there are the 4 volumes of Johannes Quasten's "Patrology", etc.
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on 16 June 2014
Unfortunately this book did not deal with the early Christian beliefs, which is what I was after. I am not sure I will ever use it.
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