Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine : General Audiences, 7 March 2007-27 February 2008
Following his best selling book, Jesus of Nazareth, and his talks published in Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church, Pope Benedict'sChurch Fathers presents these important figures of early Christianity in all their evangelical vitality, spiritual profundity, and uncompromising love of God. Benedict tells the true story of Christianity's against-all-odds triumph in the face of fierce Roman hostility and persecution. He does this by exploring the lives and the ideas of the early Christian writers, pastors, and martyrs, men so important to the spread of Christianity that history remembers them as "the Fathers of the Church."
This rich and engrossing survey of the early Church includes those churchmen who immediately succeeded the Apostles, the "Apostolic Fathers": Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus of Lyon. Benedict also discusses such great Christian figures as Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian of Carthage, the Cappadocian Fathers, as well as the giants John Chrysostom, Jerome, and Augustine. This book is a wonderful way to get to know the Church Fathers and the tremendous spiritually rich patrimony they have bequeathed to us.
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Christian Church has been blessed with a long and noble history, filled with thoughtful and heroic witness of many courageous and saintly individuals. Unfortunately, many of those figures have not been prominently studied and reflected upon in recent years, and even centuries. This is particularly the case with the early Church fathers - the saints and martyrs who have built the Church and the orthodox Christian faith that we partake in today.
This book is made out of lectures given by the Pope Benedict over the course of several months. Each one of the Church Fathers is represented with one or two lectures, devoted to his life and the most significant theological teachings. We are taken into the world of early Christianity and various challenges and struggles - both physical and theological - that the early Christian community faced. This book is a useful reminder that the orthodox Christian faith has been shaped and elucidated by many thoughtful and courageous individuals who oftentimes faced very serious and harmful persecution. The book ends, unsurprisingly, with five lectures dedicated to St. Augustine. Pope Benedict is well known to be particularly fond of this great saint and theologian, and his own writings are deeply imbued with Augustinian thought and sensibility.
Aside from the obvious historical and theological value, this slender tome is of particular relevance for the Christians in the modern world. We live in the age that is increasingly hostile to the Christian thought and ethics, and it can be tempting to give in to despair or adopt a siege mentality and withdraw from the world entirely. However, it is important to remember that the early Church faced a very similar set of circumstances, and the lesson from that era are incredibly relevant for the situation that we find ourselves in today. For that reason alone this book carries incredible value for all practicing and thoughtful Christians who want to have their voices heard in the contemporary society.