A treatment of the evolution of Christian thought from the birth of Christ, to the Apostles, to the early church, to the great flowering of Christianity across the world. The first volume introduces the central figures and debates culminating in the Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon among which the theologies of the early church were hammered out.
Justo L. González
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In this first volume on the development of Christian thought, Gonzalez outlines the main currents of theology and how they progressed during the first ~450 years after Christ. He begins with an interesting look into the religious culture of the Jews and the Graeco-Romans around the time when Jesus Christ came into the world. He moves on to describe the writings of the "Apostolic Fathers," some of the oldest Christian literature written after the New Testament, and then progresses into the main stream of the book. The main course of the book is devoted to discussing the thought of the major theologians in the first 5 centuries, and how various controversies circulated through the church. Gonzalez explains how the church handled these issues, and the resulting theology that came from responding to various heresies. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the development of trinitarian doctrine and the corresponding refutation of Arianism, and then the later Christological...
Justo Gonzoles' comprehensive perspective on the historical development of doctrine can be both inspiring and overwhelming. His attempt to summarize the major movements and developments in the first four centuries of the church in Volume one was more successful than the following synthesis of a thousand years in fewer pages. The early church and ecumenical councils develop in a manner linear enough that are amenable to this sort of treatment. Gonzales' text is readable and could, at times, even be classified as fun (rare for a history of doctrine text). He does a particularly good job with the Apostolic Fathers and the early heresies.
This series of books does an excellent job of laying out the issues that confronted Christianity during the first few hundred years. Gonzalez writes in a very accessible style, and tries to keep the technical language to a minimum. No matter what your exposure to the issues, this book provides an excellent summary and introduction, and is one that I recommend to friends who need a basic grounding in eary Christian thought. Gonzalez presents a generally balanced view, though it seems that the "orthodox" position is generally portrayed in the best light in most cases, though not to such an extent that the book is heavily biased. Overall, an excellent introduction and summary. I strongly recommend it.
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