The life and times of the early church were every bit as exciting as our own. But the living pulse of early Christian life, worship and controversy is too often submerged beneath the text of standard introductions to early Christian history.
Here from Laurie Guy is an introduction to Christianity of the first four centuries that is readable but not lightweight, interesting but not superficial, informative but not technical. It is a welcome supplement to chronological histories of the early church, a vantage point from which readers may sit aloft and view the broad patterns in the historical terrain.
From the apostolic fathers to the great ecumenical councils, we see the church undergoing persecution and martyrdom and then rising to favor under Constantine, shaping its ministry and order while worshiping and developing its understanding of doctrine. Baptism and Eucharist, asceticism and monasticism, and the developing roles of women unfold in this thematic account of the rise of Great Tradition Christianity.
Richly illustrated and filled out with maps, charts and close-up windows on related topics, Introducing Early Christianity will inform the curious and enliven courses in early church history.
"Presenting an accessible, well-organized and crisply written summary of life and thought in the early patristic period, Laurie Guy's Introducing Early Christianity has done what should have been done a long time ago. The discussion is easy to understand without being simplistic, scholarly without being obscure. If there's a book to put into the hands of those entering this fascinating era for the first time, this is the one."
"Laurie Guy has written an informative, accessible and interesting introduction to the world of the early Christian community. The blossoming evangelical hunger for deeper grounding in the history, beliefs, traditions and practices of the ancient church will find much needed nourishment here."
Introducing Early Christianity has been helpful in my mental effort to sort out the various names, writings, and events that took place in the times of the church fathers. I find his writing eminently readable. I'd call this a good introduction to early church history for students of high school age and up.
1. If Paul Could See Us Now: Four Centuries of Dramatic Change
2. Second-Generation Christianity: The Churches of the Apostolic Fathers
3. Suffering and Dying for God: Persecution and Martyrdom
4. Getting Organized: Ministry and Structure
5. Getting Recognized: Emperor Constantine's Revolution
6. Radical Discipleship: Asceticism and Monasticism
7. Women in the Early Church: Liberated or Confined?
8. The Emerging Shape of Worship: Eucharist and Liturgy
9. Getting In and Staying In: Baptism and Penance
10. Exploring the Paths: The Development of Early Christian Doctrine
11. Mapping the Mind of the Church: Orthodoxy Defined
Table of Key People and Anonymous Writings
Map of Early Christian Sites
Modern Author Index