I have finally posted something that has been in the works for quite a while. For the past several years I’ve had a fascination with church history; in particular, the early church. I’ve read countless books that speculate about the early church and what it may or may not have looked like.
Until a couple of years ago, my entire understanding of the early church came from reading history books. I had no idea there was an large library of books for the “Ante-Nicene Fathers” of the church (that is, those who lived and wrote before the Council of Nicene in 325 AD). It seems many historians are attempting to engage the reader in their particular version of history, so they don’t bother to mention these writings as a great source as it may contradict their own narrative.
I am posting these writings from the early church here on my website. Most of them are from the Ante Nicene Fathers series, which is a 10-volume set that can be purchased for about $100 from christianbook.com or can be read online here: http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html
You can skip the rest of my blog and go straight to the landing page for this new series by clicking here.
A few notes about my criteria for posting:
The 10-volume Ante Nicene series is thousands of pages and contains not all, but many writings from the early church. Some heretical and were rejected by that same early church, including the gnostic gospels. However, there are many jewels to be found, and those will be my focus. I also want to include writings that will be helpful to the Orthodox Inquirer. So, unlike CCEL, I’m not attempting to create a database of ancient writings, but rather present a few selected and highly influential authors.
Right now, I have posted the epistles by the three “apostolic fathers,” who were Saints Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Clement of Rome. These men knew the apostles personally; so they had direct first-hand knowledge of the oral tradition that was passed along by the apostles, some of which is mentioned in their letters.
The writings of the early church challenged the heck out of my ideas about how that church looked. There is this image presented by today’s “historians” that the early church could be equated to a group of Christians gathering in someone’s candle-lit living room, being led in worship by a dude with an acoustic guitar, and having no set service or hierarchy, but were led completely by the Spirit in their services.
By reading these letters, I realized that idea was a warm, fuzzy fairy tale.
But I digress. Go to the Ancient Voices page and read the letters for yourself (and even bear in mind that they were translated by Protestants in the 1800’s, so nobody can claim a Roman Catholic or Orthodox bias).