Review by Choice Review
The distinctive literature of the church fathers (c. 100-450) represents one of the most dynamic periods in Christian history. But in a larger sense, this literature--and its burgeoning religion, Christianity--encompasses a unique oeuvre in the history of religions. Long ably served by preeminent scholars, the secondary literature nonetheless suffered from updating in several key areas--until the appearance of this volume, which serves to correct the parochialisms of an earlier scholarly era. Early Christian literature has traditionally been of greatest interest to Christian theologians and scholars; publication of this new volume in the well-known "Cambridge History" series recognizes secular historians' interest in the church fathers and their work. Most importantly, by opening doors for other scholarly fields, this book acknowledges the interest of newer categories of readers, such as feminists who question traditional patristic assumptions. Also critical, though, is that history's earlier losers, the heretics, are reinvigorated to demonstrate their historical challenge and viability within the early church. Finally, critical new finds such as the Nag Hammadi texts and the Tura papyri find full discussion here. This volume is a welcome addition. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty. G. M. Smith Delaware County Community College
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