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Early Christian Doctrines by J. N. D. Kelly

Early Christian Doctrines (1960)

by J. N. D. Kelly

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Needed for AHOS, Unit 3, Patristics I, The Fathers of the Church during the First Five Hundred Years
  DeaconJohn | Sep 25, 2013 |
About three-quarters of the way through Early Church Doctrines, the author makes this comment: "The student who seeks to understand [a particular doctrine] ... must be prepared to pick his way through a variety of theories, to all appearance unrelated and even mutually incompatible, existing side by side and sometimes sponsored by the same theologian." Realistically, though, most of the doctrines of the early church (the back of the book calls it "from the close of the apostolic age to the ... fifth century") could fit this statement.

This is not an easy book to wade through; it is not "Early Church Doctrine for Dummies." Some familiarity with the early church fathers is expected. Each two-page spread is almost guaranteed to have either Greek or Latin terms (sometimes both) on it, although most of those terms are briefly summarized. I had hoped for a little more hand-holding, but with so many different doctrines to summarize, there isn't much time for long introductions.

Assuming you are worthy to continue, there's a lot of information compressed into five hundred pages. There are the early debates on the Trinity and what "The Word" really means, and what the sacraments entail. There are the well-known early writers in church history (Tertullian and Clement and Origen and Ambrose and Augustine) and there were some who were new to me (Epiphanius and Theodoret). There are the early charges of heresy for various positions, sometimes to be subtly worked into church doctrine years later. With so many intertwining theories, I felt like I was jumping from rock to rock across a raging river, never quite getting my bearings. That's not the fault of the book, though; it's my own (non-)familiarity with the underlying concepts. It's a very good reference source (there are likely over a thousand footnotes to the original sources) that I hope someday to return to, this time with a stronger background in at least some of the topics.

LT Haiku:

Early church fathers
Developing doctrine for
The next thousand years.
3 vote legallypuzzled | Apr 1, 2012 |
an outstanding book, shockingly bound with the cheapest, nastiest glue I have ever encountered outside of Mills and Boon! C'mon, Harper & Row - this deserved better. ( )
  Michael_Godfrey | Oct 15, 2011 |
This book is a tour de force of early Christian beliefs. J.N.D. Kelly touches every major Father of the Church from the Apostolic Age to the 6th century as well as many relatively minor figures from the early Church. If you want to know what the early Christians believed, I highly recommend this book to you. I caution, though, that in order to get the most out of this book you must have a thorough knowledge of the history of Christianity for the first six centuries at least. This book is already 500 pages long, so there's little time for Kelly to stop along the way to explain historical developments. The book is not even done in chronological order other than perhaps separating the Apostolic Fathers and Apologists from the later Fathers into two different sections of the book; the primary division of the book, though, is thematic. Nonetheless -- read this book if you're interested in knowing what the earliest Christians believed! ( )
2 vote davidpwithun | Sep 16, 2011 |
Great introduction. ( )
  chriszodrow | Feb 9, 2010 |
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The object of this book is to sketch the development of the principal Christian doctrines from the close of the first century to the middle of the fifth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Early church fathers / Developing doctrine for / The next thousand years. (legallypuzzled)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006064334X, Paperback)

This revised edition of the standard history of the first great period in Christian thought has been thoroughly updated in the light of the latest historical findings. Dr. Kelly organizes an ocean of material by outlining the development of each doctrine in its historical context. He lucidly summarizes the genesis of Chrisitian thought from the close of the apostolic age to the Council of Chalcedon in the fifth century--a time teeming with fresh and competing ideas. The doctrines of the Trinity, the authority of the Bible and tradition, the nature of Christ, salvation, original sin and grace, and the sacraments are all extensively treated in these pages.

This revised edition of Early Christian Doctrines includes: Sweepingly updated early chaptersRevised and updated bibliographiesA completely new chapter on Mary and the saints

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:16 -0400)

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