The Early Church (The Pelican History of the Church, #1) [ePub]

by Henry Chadwick

This is the first volume of the penguin history of the church and not the beginning of a history of Christianity.

Implicit in this book is the idea that orthodoxy has always existed.This is a problem and a grave weakness.In the absence of a creed, a canon of agreed genuine holy books there is only tradition which Chadwick believes was unitary.In this Chadwick doesn't escape his professional background, and presumably his faith, as a Church of England Priest.It is accepted that apostolic succession was an actual occurrence and by implication all the apostles were of one mind.The reader may suspect that the reality was considerably more messy.

Early Christianity for Chadwick is not a wide field full of people adapting popular and occasionally written traditions about Jesus, increasingly ignorant of his Jewish background in the context of the religious and philosophical environment of the Mediterranean world but rather the doughty defence of Orthodoxy against the wrong-headed even before Orthodoxy ever existed.

In this Chadwick sets the tone for the entire series which isn't the history of the Church but a history of a Church.If you're a Coptic Christian there's nothing for you here, except finding out that you are not Orthodox.

I read the revised edition, I'm not sure if the 1967 text was revised, the only alteration mentioned is that the suggested reading was updated.

I would have liked more on the emergence of a biblical canon and more of a sense of what texts (and of what quality) different figures and movements in Christian history were drawing from - but again this may well be constrained by the nature of the surviving source material.

09.09.2010

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