When the Church Was Young
- Voices of the Early Fathers
- Narrated by: Marcellino D'Ambrosio
- Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 25-07-14
- Language: English
- Publisher: Servant Books
Regular price: £27.19
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Grantley McDONALD on 27-12-14
Traditional presentation of the early church
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
This book has much to recommend it, but also much that the reader (or listener) must take with caution. It’s a very pleasant and edifying listen. However, it has a number of fundamental problems. D’Ambrosio is constantly at pains to give the impression that the position currently held by the Roman Catholic church on any given issue is identical with that held by the early church fathers. For example, when discussing the Didache, he draws attention to the following passage: «οὐ μαγεύσεις, οὐ φαρμακεύσεις, οὐ φονεύσεις τέκνον ἐν φθορᾷ οὐδὲ γεννηθὲν ἀποκτενεῖς» (“do not engage in sorcery, do not make use of potions, do not abort a foetus or commit infanticide”). The prohibition of abortion and infanticide is repeated in the Epistle of Barnabas (19.5). But D’Ambrosio muddies the water by arguing that «οὐ φαρμακεύσεις» is a prohibition of “abortifacients and contraceptives.” This is not the case. In fact the first two prohibitions in this list refer to two different kinds of magic, the first carried out by incantations or ceremonies, and the second by the use of magical potions, for example to make the recipient fall in love with the operant of the magic. By arguing that the didache prohibits contraception rather than enchanted potions, D’Ambrosio evidently wishes to give the impression that the Roman Catholic church’s current prohibition of contraception has the seal of antiquity. Such distortions of the text undermine the reader’s trust, and lead to the suspicion that the author has an axe to grind.
Another problem with D’Ambrosio’s work is his approach to the question of heresy. Modern scholarship rejects the traditional notion that there was a pure core of belief that remained unchanged from the time of Jesus to the present, which various orthodox fathers merely articulated in increasingly more perfect terms. This view, promulgated by the church historian Eusebius, has now yielded to a more pluralistic view of the early church. Those who came to call themselves “orthodox” and “Catholic” were only one element in a much more complicated drama in which various groups, each believing themselves to hold correct beliefs about Jesus, all jockeyed for dominance. We have always known about these other groups. The orthodox apologists give us detailed, though naturally partisan, presentations of the beliefs of many of them. Modern scholars try to get behind the claims of the orthodox apologists to hear what these other groups were saying, without privileging the claims of any one of these groups. However, D’Ambrosio presents the traditional view, which takes the truth claims of the Catholic/orthodox party at face value. This results in a simple dichotomy between the goodies (Catholics) and baddies (heretics) which just doesn’t get us very far in our understanding of the dynamics of early Christianity.
In summary, the book is ok, but those looking for a more critical view might be better served by the books of Bart Ehrman, also available on Audible.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
By John on 17-05-16
Good intro to early Church
Are you are christian? Learning and getting to now the witness of early Christian has helped me in my relationship with Christ. If you don't know much about the early church - this book will help you get the journey started
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mike C on 22-08-14
Masterful summary of the early Church Fathers
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Absolutely. I have read other books on the early Church and the Church Fathers, but this book brings both to life. Each Father has an intriguing and compelling story that is told in a conversationalist manner so as to leap off the page.
What does Marcellino D'Ambrosio bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Dr. D'Ambrosio is a skilled orator. Hearing a passionate author speak in his own words is a great experience.
Any additional comments?
This book does an outstanding job explaining heresy’s within the early Church such as Gnosticism and Aryanism and shows how each was debunked and defeated and by whom. We present day Christians take difficult topics like the Trinity for granted. This book is a reminder of how it wasn’t always so and how Christian thought solidified through apostolic Tradition.
Perhaps most importantly, this book reminds us that early Christians were willing to die for their faith. How many present day Christians are ready to do the same? In those days it was expected and embraced.
The pithy recap of the apostolic Tradition’s points of convergence in Chapter 26 is brilliant and concise.
The early Church Fathers would be outraged to see the many divisions within present-day Christianity. Their words and, in many ways, this book is a call for unity. Thank you, Dr. D’Ambrosio for writing and compiling it.
25 of 25 people found this review helpful
By John on 06-08-15
One of the best
I had a bias. I had listened to this writer give a past talk that I didn't much care for, and so I didn't think his book would be much better frankly. I was wrong. This is one of the most readable and important books on the subject precisely because it is so accessible. Well researched and a fantastic resource. Fascinating read.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful