Faith of the Early Fathers on sale - any opinions?

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Jeff | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Mar 24 2016 5:11 PM

I'm wondering if anyone has an opinion on this small 3 volume collection entitled "Faith of the Early Fathers" that is currently on sale: https://www.logos.com/product/31138/faith-of-the-early-fathers . It seems to be a good sampling of the Church Fathers and has received a lot of positive reviews but I'm having trouble distinguishing it from the "Early Church Fathers Special Catholic Edition" (https://www.logos.com/product/7832/early-church-fathers-special-catholic-edition) that I already own in Verbum. It appears that there is a lot of overlap but from what I can tell, it contains a few documents that are not included in the larger collection. Does anyone have experience with this resource and would you think that it's worth having in addition to what a basic Verbum library already contains? Thanks!

Posts 992
Deacon Steve | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 24 2016 6:26 PM

I've had the hardcopy set for many years ... before I first purchased Logos (pre-Verbum).  It was the only affordable work on the Early Church Fathers that was readily available to me.  I still have that set within arms reach of my desk today.  All of the larger sets were cost prohibitive.  Other works long out of print. 

Now we have access many resources in Logos/Verbum - ECF Catholic Edition which you mention, Teachings of the Church Fathers (reprint - Ignatius), Paulist Press' Ancient Christian Writers, CUA's The Fathers of the Church, and the recent, excellent one-volume work by Jimmy Akin - The Fathers Know Best, and some others.

Father Jurgen's Faith of the Early Fathers is an excellent resource - modern translation, selections of common patristic writings, doctrinal index, references accordingly to Migne's PL and PG.

If all you have is Schaff's ECF, this would be a good addition ... IMHO.

Also, please bid on Migne's works.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 24 2016 6:29 PM

It's a work I consider essential - partially because of its topical indexing.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 236
Brian Losabia | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 24 2016 6:59 PM

In addition to the doctrinal index which MJ mentions, I also like the introductory/background information which is provided by Jurgens for many of the authors.

Posts 5302
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 24 2016 10:19 PM

I passed on this earlier... but after reading reviews on it's product page and MJ recommendation I decided to get it.. It may not be exhaustive but it appears extremely useful. Thanks for bringing this up to point out the sale price. And giving me the opportunity to reconsider it.

-Dan

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 25 2016 1:18 AM

Looking at some of the contents, my concern with it would be that the selection is obviously slanted confessionally. I think it is dangerous and harmful, in any confession, to welcome products that present evidence selectively in order to bolster our confessional slant. Even within any given confession, such a biased hermeneutic cannot be good. Topical guides and indexes to the fathers are useful if they help us track down the whole evidence to make sense of it. There are topical indexes in the church fathers volumes themselves.

This is one of the reasons why overall the tradition based packages make me cringe. I know some people think it is wonderful, but it is a sad commentary on the estate of Christendom when so many people seek to buy products that keep reinforcing their biases (militant self-indoctrination). It is no longer an honest or real quest for truth, but wanting to be told by others that yes, I knew it, I am right (a form of sectarianism), for others, an implied variant of Pilate's statement "and what is truth?" (relativism) hidden behind much-nobler sounding rhetoric. Yes, I know, I digressed into christian discourse site territory... Still a comment on the type of product though. I wouldn't buy.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 25 2016 1:32 AM

Francis:
my concern with it would be that the selection is obviously slanted confessionally.

Depends upon what you mean by "confessionally" as it is oriented towards > 80% of Christians (ACELO) which is less biased than some of the Logos tagging. Most Logos products are biased towards a more narrow confessional set. But yes, if you mean "is this a fundamental resource for Catholics", the answer is "yes". But as usual Catholic is also catholic, orthodox, high-church, historical ... If you think that it is confessionally "Roman Catholic", you fail to understand the commonality within the churches that have historically been based in the church fathers (Oriental Christianity, Eastern Christianity, Western Catholic/Anglican/Lutheran Christianity and some of their descendants).

Francis:
but it is a sad commentary on the estate of Christendom when so many people seek to buy products that keep reinforcing their biases (militant self-indoctrination)

But isn't this what you are encouraging?

Francis:
This is one of the reasons why overall the tradition based packages make me cringe

There are foundational ecclesial documents that belong in tradition based packages for the use of leaders within that tradition. I am interested in some Lutheran position papers, but certainly not all of them while I need all recent encyclicals at my fingertips. That is not a matter of "militant self-indoctrination". It is a matter of pragmatics. As for monographs and commentaries, my collection represents a range of traditions. I will admit that there is one major Protestant theologian that I avoid ... but my pastor and mentor taught me "Lutheran publishers for all things Bible, Anglican publishers for all things liturgical, Catholic and Orthodox publishers for all things theological" ....and yes, there are exceptions to that rule but it still works well for picking catalogues to browse.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 25 2016 4:22 AM

MJ. Smith:

Francis:
but it is a sad commentary on the estate of Christendom when so many people seek to buy products that keep reinforcing their biases (militant self-indoctrination)

But isn't this what you are encouraging?

How so? 

MJ. Smith:
That is not a matter of "militant self-indoctrination". It is a matter of pragmatics.

This may be true of you, but your practice is not widely representative. Most people are more interested in defending beliefs they want to cherish (for all kinds of different reasons) than they are in the continual pursuit of truth. In any case, I am interested in your answer to my question above but otherwise, I think it would be wise to drop this topic since it takes beyond forum guidelines. If you want to have a conversation on this though, we can meet on faithlife.com...

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 25 2016 12:45 PM

Francis:
How so? 

1. Do you accept the Bauer thesis of early multiple "Christianities" upon which Orthodoxy was later imposed? (I do not).

2. Do you have evidence that the bias you see in the selection is not representative of the orthodoxy of the Oriental Church, the Byzantine (Eastern Church) and the Western Church until the rise of humanism?

3. Do you have evidence that the selection does not represent the "consensus" of the early church fathers? Note that it claims not to represent all positions taken by any church father but rather the orthodoxy (consensus) of the early church fathers.

4. Personal question: to what extent does your concern reflect a reaction to the terminology and orgnaization of the content not being the terminology and organization that you are used to?

If you answer yes to question 1, this book rejects the Bauer view. To reject the book on this ground could be "militant self-indoctrination".

If you answer yes to either 2 or 3 you need to present that evidence. Otherwise you are in a position of having to prove you are not reacting from the gut to vocabulary or organization ... the avoidance of  "other" is direct effect of "militant self-indoctrination" e.g. reading only what you agree with infers not reading what you disagree with.

Which leaves question 4 with the implication that unfamilarity with the terminology and organization is the root of your warning - something I would have also inferred from your original use of the term "confessional" which is a term foreign to much of the audience the resource targets. "Creedal" would be the closest equivalent. Granting the meaning of "confessional" in the sense that I believe you mean, the book is "multi-confessional" even "broadly multi-confessional". To discourage the reading of "multi-confessional" books looks suspiciously similar to "militant self-indoctrination".

In short, I stand by my recommendation of the book as a solid condensation of the consensus of the early church fathers as understood by the vast majority of Christians for the vast majority of Christian history. One does not find a singularity of view as one does in dogmatic theologies such as Ott which I would call "confessional" in your sense of the word.

I have a well-bitten tongue from strong recommendations for materials I read and quickly disposed of. But I would never recommend or dis-recommend a book I had not read (or used in the case of dictionaries and encylopedias).. I may have over-reacted to disapproval of a favorite resource but, as you did not provide any concrete evidence, your disapproval came across to me as prejudice not knowledge.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2016 4:06 AM

MJ. Smith:
1. Do you accept the Bauer thesis of early multiple "Christianities" upon which Orthodoxy was later imposed? (I do not).

I don't know the details of Bauer's view, but the idea of "multiple christianities" would be problematic to me on the face of it.

MJ. Smith:
2. Do you have evidence that the bias you see in the selection is not representative of the orthodoxy of the Oriental Church, the Byzantine (Eastern Church) and the Western Church until the rise of humanism?

Neither nor in the sense that it is irrelevant to the basis of my comments (irrespective of whether you think it "should" be).

MJ. Smith:
If you answer yes to either 2 or 3 you need to present that evidence.

I think my answer above should answer that as well. It is beside my point.

MJ. Smith:
Which leaves question 4 with the implication that unfamilarity with the terminology and organization is the root of your warning

That it may play a role, quite possibly. I have NOT read the book. Perhaps you and others will thus conclude that I am not entitled to an opinion or that it is necessarily suspect to have one. I have not read 50 Shades of Grey either (not implying a comparison at all to the book this thread is about, of course), nor intend to ever to, and I definitely have an opinion against it. I am sure there are those who would think I am not entitled to it.

The point, however, is that I don't care about Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Protestantism, or even for that matter the so-called-but-no-longer-really "Evangelicalism". These are all models that have taken a life of their own beyond their initial and still claimed intentions. It may well be that the cumulative evidence of the Fathers is closer to Roman Catholicism than any of the other groups I mentioned above, that's not my concern. My concern is when paedobaptists, for instance, depict the evidence of the Early Church in a selective way intended to defend paedobaptism rather than as a true historical inquiry. Slanted resources tend to lead people down that road: a general index of the Fathers should be valid and useful for genuine inquiry for whoever of whatever stripe, even from non-Christians. 

I hope it makes my point clearer though of course, you are free to disagree and I have an inkling that you will with at least part of it. And as I write this, let this be clear that I do not claim to be neutral nor necessarily to have it "right". Neutral is a theoretical concept that has no sense. When it comes to morality for instance, what would it mean to be neutral as a sort of opposite to the accusation of having a bias/slant? Hopefully one will reach and endorse some values that will then guide perception and evaluation, but just as hopefully, this will not based on an obscurantist indoctrination, but a genuine and ongoing search for truth, wherever it may lead.

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2016 10:42 AM

Francis:
Looking at some of the contents, my concern with it would be that the selection is obviously slanted confessionally.

Taking the above in mind...

Francis:
Slanted resources tend to lead people down that road: a general index of the Fathers should be valid and useful for genuine inquiry for whoever of whatever stripe, even from non-Christians. 

What evidence do you have that the resource in question in this thread is not "valid and useful for genuine inquiry for whoever of whatever stripe, even from non-Christians"?

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2016 11:39 AM

I have said enough to help those that can be helped, that is, who genuinely want to be helped. Moving on.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2016 1:22 PM

Francis:
I have said enough to help those that can be helped, that is, who genuinely want to be helped

No, you have accused a book of being slanted in a negative way without offering any evidence of that slant and, in fact, claimed to be above having to provide evidence to justify your statements by claiming questions 2 and 3 are outside your responsibility. By this logic, I should add a warning to every thread in Logos that recommends a book. If you have any interest in persuasion - preaching or writing, I seriously suggest that you read Douglas Walton's Burden of Proof, Presumption and Argumentation. Walton is an informal logician specially interested in medical ethics and legal reasoning (On Defining Death: An Analytic Study of the Concept of Death in Philosophy and Medical Ethics; Ethics of Withdrawal of Life-Support Systems: Case Studies in Decision Making in Intensive Care; The Power of God: Readings on Omnipotence and Evil ...)

.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2016 1:28 PM

Francis:
Hopefully one will reach and endorse some values that will then guide perception and evaluation, but just as hopefully, this will not based on an obscurantist indoctrination, but a genuine and ongoing search for truth, wherever it may lead.

If this is genuinely your interest, may I suggest you might enjoy Paul Williams' The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism? Dr. Williams has taught at the University of Bristol's Centre for Buddhist Studies for many years.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2016 2:39 PM

Wow. 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Mar 26 2016 2:46 PM

Big Smile

                                                                             Geeked

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 274
Average Joe | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 29 2016 7:12 AM

Augustine:

I'm wondering if anyone has an opinion on this small 3 volume collection entitled "Faith of the Early Fathers" that is currently on sale: https://www.logos.com/product/31138/faith-of-the-early-fathers . It seems to be a good sampling of the Church Fathers and has received a lot of positive reviews but I'm having trouble distinguishing it from the "Early Church Fathers Special Catholic Edition" (https://www.logos.com/product/7832/early-church-fathers-special-catholic-edition) that I already own in Verbum. It appears that there is a lot of overlap but from what I can tell, it contains a few documents that are not included in the larger collection. Does anyone have experience with this resource and would you think that it's worth having in addition to what a basic Verbum library already contains? Thanks!

I have had the print version of Jurgens for year and utilized this month's sale to finally get it in Logos/Verbum. I am glad that I did.

As far as writings from the Early Church Fathers, this is like a "highlight reel" of the 37 volume ECF set. You're only getting paragraph-size chunks of material.

However, this set complements the ECF set very well with the introductions to each Church Father—and introductions to the individual works cited. These introductions are brief, but very helpful.

Where it really shines for me, though, is in the doctrinal index. It goes through teachings about each Person of the Trinity, the Sacraments, Eschatology, Mary, and more. Whereas in the print version, I would have to flip back and forth between all three volumes, in Verbum, I just click and I'm there (all three volumes download as one resource). Then, if I want to read the fuller context of the quote, I can click on the heading of each passage and be taken to where it appears in the 37 volume set. The Jurgens' set and the ECF set work together very well.

Francis brought up some concerns, but I think those concerns are much less relevant with this Logos/Verbum version than with the print version. The context of each quotation is just a click away (if you have the ECF set, which anyone with a base package has). So if you are worried that Jurgens may have plucked a given passage out of context, you can immediately go see for yourself. Very handy.

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Veli Voipio | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 29 2016 8:00 AM

Dan Francis:
I passed on this earlier... but after reading reviews on it's product page and MJ recommendation I decided to get it.

Same here. I think I should know more about this subject.

(Some years ago I was pondering the diversity of the nature: so many different species of plants and animals, and all individuals different. That makes the ecological system adaptive into new situations sort of dynamics in the nature. Also in the human society the diversity exists, and in the global church. I think that confessionalism etc. is necessary and at the same time diversity in the global Christianity. Hmm)

Gold package, and original language material and ancient text material, SIL and UBS books, discourse Hebrew OT and Greek NT. PC with Windows 8.1

Posts 201
Stephen Terlizzi | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 29 2016 9:02 AM

I find that this resource combined with ECF Catholic Edition, Jimmy Akin's The Fathers Know Best, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church make an excellent set of resources to understand the teachings of the Early Church Fathers. I would add Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma as another resource - if Logos could ever negotiate to bring it back!

Highly recommended.

Agape,

Steve

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