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Author Topic: Records of the Early Church?  (Read 2248 times) Average Rating: 0
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Labosseuse
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« on: April 30, 2007, 01:10:33 PM »

Hi all,
I have been reading "Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Waters" by Matthew Gallatin.  He speaks frequently of the Early Church and their practices in worship and life.  Where can I get my hands on a comprehensive record of the church post-Pentecost? 

Thank you.
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2007, 02:29:04 PM »

There are lots of books on the subject, but one online resource is this one:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

and this for additional writings of early Christians:

http://www.ccel.org/p/pearse/morefathers/home.html
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2007, 02:33:19 PM »

Thank you!  These will be very helpful.
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2007, 03:16:22 PM »

There are lots of books on the subject, but one online resource is this one:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

and this for additional writings of early Christians:

http://www.ccel.org/p/pearse/morefathers/home.html

Since that site is Protestant and somewhat strangely organized, would anyone find it beneficial if we put all the Church Fathers in English on OCnet? It would take some time but would be a worthwhile project. All the texts are public domain.

They were linked on Monachos.net but all the links are messed up now, etc.

Anastasios
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2007, 03:29:23 PM »

Sounds like a worthwhile project.

Thomas
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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2007, 03:36:03 PM »

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Since that site is Protestant and somewhat strangely organized...

Yeah, I was all excited because they were editing the stuff (for years), but trying to find this or that document is a lot more trouble than it used to be!
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« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2007, 04:56:24 PM »

Where can I get my hands on a comprehensive record of the church post-Pentecost? 

A comprehensive record does not exist. Records of any event, practice or institution in the ancient world are very complex and occasionally spotty. (By the way, what do you mean by "record," exactly? Manuscripts? Papyri? Archaeological evidence? Copies of primary texts in their original language? Translations of those texts in relevant ancient languages, e.g. Coptic, Syriac, Armenian? Modern translations? Or are you talking about basic summaries written by modern scholars?)

At any rate, if you are specifically looking for primary texts that describe worship and life, you should look for several major documents from the first few centuries.

1) First/early second century: The Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. This text, which exists in several forms, including a late Greek text, a medieval Georgian version and some ancient -- but tiny -- fragments of Papyri from Oxyrhynchus, is referenced by many of most important ancient liturgically-related sources. Some early Christians considered it essential reading, on par with the Apostolic letters in the New Testament.

2) Third century: The Syriac Didascalia Apostolorum. This is a very early attempt from Roman Syria to create a canonical handbook of sorts. Thus, it describes the proper worship and discipline of the Church, lists the ordained orders and contains some basic prayers, etc.

3) Fourth century: (a) The Greek and Latin versions of the Apostolic Constitutions (which expand upon the Didascalia Apostolorum); (b) the various versions of the Euchologion of Bishop Serapion, which contains a lot of liturgical prayers and descriptions; and (c) the Itinerarium Egeriae (or Peregrinatio Aetheriae), the latter part of which contains detailed descriptions of the worship and liturgical practices in the ancient Church of Jerusalem, especially during Holy Week.

By the way, the Apostolic Constitutions contains the basic "Antiochian" anaphora that we now celebrate in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Most scholars date this anaphora to the 3rd or MAYBE 4th century. At any rate, it pre-dates St. John by a good number of years. It be old.

4) Fifth to seventh centuries: The various archaeological sites and still-functional Churches, especially those in Rome and Asia Minor that offer significant insights into Christian worship at the time. Form and environment necessarily influence ritual. A liturgical action must take place in a liturgical space, and the liturgical space conforms to the liturgical action. Also, in this period there are various references to Christian liturgical rites in the sermons of the Church Fathers, e.g. St. John Chrysostom.

5) Eighth Century: The Barberini Euchologion, a famous Greek manuscript which is the most complete late antique record of the Church's divine worship.

Otherwise, more general resources would include the records and canons of the various Oecumenical Councils, as well as the writings of the Church Fathers. The best editions and translations of these can be found in two series: Sources Chrétiennes and Corpus Christianorum.

Finally, I would recommend two more synthetic resources. First, the famous History of the Church written by Eusebius in the early fourth century. It's not perfect or comprehensive, but it's the earliest general history we have. Second, an excellent little book by one of the most learned and balanced modern historians of the early Church, i.e. Robert Louis Wilken's The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God, which is the fruit of many decades of considerable research in the original documents.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2007, 05:15:02 PM by pensateomnia » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2007, 10:22:25 PM »

You should start with any good primer on Greek thought and philosophy to understand the framework the church was formed in.  Then I would read Origen and Pseudo-Dionysius.
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2007, 07:46:12 PM »

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You should start with any good primer on Greek thought and philosophy to understand the framework the church was formed in.  Then I would read Origen and Pseudo-Dionysius.

I'd really enjoy if a suggested reading list of pre-Christian philosophers was put together to introduce patristic thought (weren't a great many of the great fathers fully trained in rhetoric and philosophy?). 

And a real treat for all would be a comparison of a more traditional view of the fathers (the general position of most of the HCHC crew or Anastasios) vs. GiC (I'm not really sure of a label for his position).   
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2007, 09:21:44 AM »

Is the book: "Early Christian Writings" published by Penguin considered a good translation to read? Notwithstanding, it has to be considered an excellent collection since it has the epistles of St. Ignatius, the 1st letter of St. Clement of Rome, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabus, etc.Our church has it in its library and our priest said it is good but better translations of these works were done by a scholar named Lightfoot. Interestingly St. Ignatius' salutation to the Theotokos seems to have been matched by the hymnographer in part of the Akathist to the Theotokos (in Ignatius epistle to the Ephesians). This book should be easily found in any Barnes & Noble or Borders etc. Another and obscure work is a collection of hymns called the Odes of Solomon which can be easily accessed with a general online search; many scholars believe these may be from about 100 AD.  God Bless.
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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2007, 10:17:37 AM »

Is the book: "Early Christian Writings" published by Penguin considered a good translation to read?

Quite good, at least if you have the revised edition edited by Fr. Andrew Louth, who is one of the world's most preeminent Orthodox scholars. I don't know if I would buy "Early Christian Writings," since one can read all of the same texts online for free. It's also hard to say if the Penguin version is superior to the old standard published by Baker. On the one hand, I have always had a soft-spot for Lightfoot, since his was the first translation I read, and his edition includes a couple of texts that the Penguin version omits (the Shepherd of Hermas and the fragments of Papias). On the other hand, Louth's notes are much more up to date.

Personally, I would read the free translation online and save my money for the Loeb editions edited by Bart D. Ehrman. The translation is at least as good, as are the notes...and you can't beat having a reasonable version of the original!
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« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2007, 11:59:22 AM »

yes, the edition is with the additions of Fr Luth. Personally I do not have internet at home & only use my allotted break time to post at work. I have another collection called the Lost Books of the Bible and Lost Books of Eden which contains The Shepard Of Hermas, Protoevangelion, Epistles of St. Ignatius etc. but also has some unreliable works (although all interesting for history). This edition is not agenda driven (as in "banned" books from the Bible) it is a just a scholarly compilation and I have seen it on the bargain rack at B & N books. Nonetheless if someone is new to Orthodoxy and buys it please ask your priest for a few minutes to separate Orthodox from non writings (yes you can read them all just the context I suggest). Once again, I hope this is helpful and thank everyone on this thread for their insights. God Bless.
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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2007, 09:17:49 PM »

Thank you all so much for your advice.  I appreciate all the resources shared.

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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2007, 06:01:02 AM »

Labosseuse, ask your local (Christian) bookstore for a copy of the Ante-Nicene Fathers series.

There are several but I know Harper Collins publishes one which is almost identical to the one the church of England composed some centuries ago and it is well written and translated in most places although the footnotes can be a little spurious.

Harper Collins also extends the series in two other sections. Can't recall exactly what they are but the first series is red and the other two are blue and green. Mostly use the red myself though. St. John Chrysostom is definately in the green section though.

Origin is only covered in part by their series due to his many works.
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