Item description for The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction by Hubertus R. Drobner, Siegfried S. Schatzmann & William Harmless...
Overview Good, solid, contemporary introductions to patristic authors and writings are difficult to find in the English-speaking world, and European volumes are expensive. This volume, which is Siegfried Schatzmann's translation of Lehrbuch der Patrologie, offers English-speaking readers easy access to Hubertus R. Drobner's traditional introduction to early Christian thought. Hubertus R. Drobner brings patristics scholarship up-to-date in this traditional introduction. His work is sufficiently broad to be a useful summary of early Christian history and the expansive strokes of doctrinal debate and development and provides a clear presentation of early Christian thought. Drobner introduces new materials throughout this recently updated edition of his handbook. A general map and several timetables add to the clarity of the volume. The Fathers of the Church is valuable in its presentation of contemporary studies and views. Patristics students will benefit from this dependable overview of early Christian texts, and scholars and libraries will appreciate the extensive bibliography, indecies, and other resources.
Promise Angels is dedicated to bringing you great books at great prices. Whether you read for entertainment, to learn, or for literacy - you will find what you want at promiseangels.com!
Reviews - What do customers think about Fathers Of The Church: A Comprehensive Introduction?
Fair but still short of the title Nov 5, 2008
To echo what Dr. Varner said in his review, we would expect more from a book with the rather presumptuous subtitle of Comprehensive Introduction. It is understood that this is the fault of the translators more than the author.
Nevertheless, there is much to praise in this volume. For instance, the background material concerning heresies confronting the early church (and still with us today to be certain) provides the necessary background for the context of the early fathers and their writings. Also of value is the all too brief section on oral tradition. This is not so much a discussion of early church writings as it is a contextual biography of the early church writers. Perhaps the author was ambitious in attempting a single volume work for a mutli-volume subject but, after all, it is an introduction rather than a comprehensive study despite the misleading English subtitle.
Something must be mentioned of the organization of material. The organization provides for quick reference by both period and type of literature. Overall, it is organized into 5 parts generally by era and each part/era is organized by type of literature or language depending on the era.
The translation is clear and reads as if English were the original language for the most part. Very well done overall and a worthy addition to any library of patristic study. But, you will want further study in addition to this introductory material.
I would, however, also recommend with Dr. Varner that the serious student seek more in a work such as Patrology: 4 Vol. Set. And, to remedy the lack of Didache information, one can find none more enjoyable than that by Dr. Varner, The Way of the Didache: The First Christian Handbook.
Hopes Raised and Then Lowered Jan 22, 2008
This is the long awaited publication in English of the author's German volume, Lehrbuch der Patrologie, published in 1994. Perhaps this English version would have been better served by titling it with the translation of its German title, "A Textbook of Patrology." In the English sub-title lies my problem with this book, for the expression "Comprehensive Introduction" is something of an oxymoron. After we learn what the volume attempts to do, we can decide whether or not the title makes any sense and is an adequate description of the book. The book surveys the fathers from the late first century through the seventh century, organizing them by common emphases rather than by a strict chronology. One of the book's great strengths is that this English version includes a twenty four page "Supplementary Bibliography" by William Harmless, S.J., professor at Creighton University. This bibliography consists of mostly English works in Patristics published since 1994, including a few from before that date that were not included in Drobner's German edition. In this reviewer's opinion, the extensive bibliographies found throughout the volume are its greatest strength. In this regard it is a veritable goldmine for the researcher who wants to go beyond what Drobner has told us about each of the "fathers" that he treats. And it is in just that area - the actual description of the Fathers and their writings that the English sub-title is misleading and the volume a bit of a disappointment. How can a work that includes only one to two pages (apart from the bibliography) about the life and work of most of the Fathers be in any sense "comprehensive?" It could be called an "introduction," but it is in no way a "comprehensive" introduction. It is true that for a Father as significant as Augustine, Drobner assigns sixty pages, and Jerome does merit twelve pages. But should we be content with one page for "First Clement" and two pages for the seven letters of Ignatius? And for this reviewer and other writers who have invested so much time in the Didache, how can we be satisfied with two short paragraphs about the little book? Furthermore, there are some omissions that are hard to understand. Where is any discussion of the life and works of the great Didymus of Alexandria, more commonly known as "Didymus the Blind?" Now that the Greek commentaries of Didymus on various OT books discovered at Thoura in 1943 are fully published, his omission by Drobner apart from four scant references is quite perplexing. While Drobner's two pages on the Shepherd of Hermas are quite compact and helpful, I am disappointed that he makes no mention of the new chapter numbering system suggested by Molly Whittaker that is being adopted by many scholars as an improvement over the complex system used for many years. In closing, let me not give the impression that I question Drobner's scholarship or his familiarity with his subject. His enormously detailed bibliographies, supplemented by Harmless, indicate that he is fully informed about this vast and complex area of study. This volume will become THE source to be consulted for "further reading" about the Fathers. But if the reader is looking for an introduction to the thought of the fathers, he can be better served by the old classic, Patrology by Johannes Quasten, or even better by the recent two volume work by Moreschini and Norelli, Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature. Perhaps the problem that I have with this book can be traced to the publisher's assigning of such a misleading sub-title that raised my expectations too high.
Other English-language Options Dec 11, 2007
Along with this competent tome (1st German edition was 1994), one also might want to look at the more doctrinally focused introduction "Way to Nicea" and "The Nicene Faith" by John Behr or the new Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature.