Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book Review: The Fathers of the Church


PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK for a "book about the fathers." For those seeking a first book on the subject, The Fathers of the Church: From Clement of Rome to Augustine of Hippois a nice option.

It consists of 36 short homilies by Benedict XIV* on 26 Fathers, with extra homilies being devoted to such Fathers as Origen, Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine. The author really loves Augustine. On the flip side, covering so many fathers over just 170 pages, the book is by no means exhaustive, nor does it aim to be.

As it is a series of sermons, the book is at once edifying, readable and informative. A series of short biographical sketches as well as a listing of English books on the Fathers are appended at the end. This book is heartily recommended to those interested in an introduction to the Fathers. The reader may then go on to books which treat one or more of these Fathers in greater depth.
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*One small point: As the homilies were delivered by H.H. the Pope of Rome - an author whom I enjoy very much - there are a number of understandable, but perhaps gratuitous, references to the Roman church's belief in its primacy. In contrast, the Orthodox church holds to the collegiality of bishops worldwide.

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