Item description for Irenaeus of Lyons (The Early Church Fathers) by Robert McQueen Grant & M. Grant Robert...
During the second century the Christian world was shaken by the Gnostics. Irenaeus came from Asia Minor via Rome to become bishop of Lyons, clarify Christian doctrines and fight the Gnostics with a major, five-volume work. He was a living part of his contemporary culture and his approach filled early Christian thought with new life. The writings of Irenaeus exist as a whole only in Latin and Armenian. This study offers translations of significant parts of his work, critically based on a complete reconstruction of the original Greek in the French series Souorces Chretiennes . It should be of use to students of the early church, both as an introduction to Irenaeus' thought, and as a collection of sources.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.44" Width: 5.4" Height: 0.65" Weight: 0.7 lbs.
Release Date Dec 16, 1996
ISBN 0415118387 ISBN13 9780415118385
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Reviews - What do customers think about Irenaeus of Lyons (The Early Church Fathers)?
An incomplete edition Jan 10, 2007
The introduction to Irenaeus's methodology is brief, but very useful. The text of Against Heresies, however, is only an incomplete reproduction of an earlier translation. If you are looking for the whole text of Against Heresies, this book does not contain it.
Good Collection of Irenaeus's works Jun 7, 2006
This work attempts to introduce the reader to the important Church Father Irenaeus, who presided as a Bishop in Lyons in around the 2nd century AD.
Irenaeus is remembered today for his long anti-Gnostic polemic called the 'Detection and Overthrow of Gnosis, so Falsely called.' Irenaeus was strongly concerned to differentiate what he saw as Orthodox, correct Christianity as handed on by the Apostles and confirmed by scripture, with the bizarre and chaotic mythology of the diverse Gnostic sects, who seemed to constantly churn out endless works claiming to be divinely inspired scripture which talked about various strange motifs and ideas, many of which seemed to totally reverse accepted ideas.
Irenaeus saw the most dangerous heretic in the form of the brilliantly gifted Gnostic Valentinus, who grafted Gnostic teachings into Orthodox Christian theology. Irenaeus saw this as extremely dangerous to the Church and to Christianity itself, which he felt had a definite and exact continuity as well as very clear doctrines which were totally opposed to what the Gnostics believed. Hence much of Irenaeus's work is devoted to exposing and refuting Valentinian 'Gnosis' by showing its blasphemous contempt for God's goodness and the goodness of the created world, its incoherent and chaotic mythology, and its bizarre symbolism and interpretation of the Bible.
Unfortunately looking back now, it can't be said Irenaeus was as calm and objective as he should have been, and his demonisation of Gnostics as agents of the devil and heretics set a very dangerous precendent within Christianity itself for the later brutal persecution of pagans, Jews and Muslims, and alleged 'heretics' within Christianity itself. His obsession with correct doctrine, while saving Christianity from many of the more absurd ideas of Gnosticism, also laid the dark seeds for persecution, and probably helped make it much harder for Western Christianity to develop a genuine interior search for God and absolute reality, which was after all what the Gnostics said they were seeking. We must remember that while a brilliant man, brilliant men also often made mistakes and their ideas often had negative as well as positive consequences for Christianity as a whole.
Nevertheless, Irenaeus is to be admired as a brilliant and original theologian whose unwavering faith in the goodness of God and the created universe, helped set a strong precedent in later Christian theology to see God's beauty and glory mirrored in the created world and within ourselves, and later formed an integral and deeply positive spiritual doctrine which is to this day an excellent antidote to any Gnostic-style pessimism about this world and our life within it.
Great Work - Important Pieces Missing Feb 26, 2006
Overall, a great little book. The introductory sections by Grant are really helpful. My only real complaint is that it does not have every chapter or paragraph. Nowhere was this mentioned; neither in the preface, nor introductory chapters. So buyers need to know that this is an abridged addition. I was really disappointed when I realized, for example, that Book III chapter 2 was missing. I think this is a significant chapter in the book. There are lots of other chapters, & whole paragraphs missing. I assume the editor left out what he felt was redundant. So to find out what you missed, you'll have to hit the Early Christian Writings web site & take a glance to see if there are chapters & paragraphs missing that you might want to read.
Concise Introduction to the World of Irenaeus Oct 14, 2004
I found Dr. Grant's work to be well-written and lucid. If there are those who are willing to criticize his work for not revealing every little detail about the life of St. Irenaeus, it's because we actually don't know much about him above what he wrote and the later comments of other writers - most of them incidental to other conversations. Grant has collected the essential information about the Bishop of Lyons and has, in my opinion, covered the most interesting parts of "Against Heresies" in his translation.
Recommended for those who are students of early Christian history and heresies. Irenaeus writes cleanly and it's not too difficult to discover the trajectory of the gnostic threat from his arguments. In fact, Irenaeus, as noted by Pelikan, is the father of the traditional Catholic/Orthodox/Anglican three-fold authority (Scripture, Tradition and apostolic authority).
Use any other book. Mar 1, 2004
I was looking for an impartial, scholarly assessment of what little we know about Irenaeus of Lyons, his role in the history of the Roman Catholic church, and a nice translation of "Against Heresies." This book offers none of that.
First, the prose is bloated and overblown. Mr. Grant likens Irenaeus' contribution to Christian history as being like a gothic column; this simile is inappropriate in so many ways, I don't know where to begin. He is obviously enamored of his subject, but his enthusiasm doesn't carry over to the presentation. This book contains nothing more than can be found for free on the Internet.
The translations themselves are nothing short of disappointing. Not that there's anything wrong with the translation itself, I'm in no position to judge that, but the abridgement is nothing more than a paragraph here, paragraph there approach. Only passages that mirror his unilluminating commentary are included. The books back cover claim that "significant parts" of his work have been newly translated should be read "parts significant to this bland commentary."
This book does nothing new for early Church scholarship, is a poor introduction to Irenaeus of Lyons, and is dull to boot.