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This revised edition of the standard history of the first great period in Christian thought has been thoroughly updated in the light of the latest historical findings. Dr. Kelly organizes an ocean of material by outlining the development of each doctrine in its historical context. He lucidly summarizes the genesis of Chrisitian thought from the close of the apostolic age t This revised edition of the standard history of the first great period in Christian thought has been thoroughly updated in the light of the latest historical findings. Dr. Kelly organizes an ocean of material by outlining the development of each doctrine in its historical context. He lucidly summarizes the genesis of Chrisitian thought from the close of the apostolic age to the Council of Chalcedon in the fifth century--a time teeming with fresh and competing ideas. The doctrines of the Trinity, the authority of the Bible and tradition, the nature of Christ, salvation, original sin and grace, and the sacraments are all extensively treated in these pages.This revised edition of Early Christian Doctrines includes: Sweepingly updated early chapters Revised and updated bibliographies A completely new chapter on Mary and the saints


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This revised edition of the standard history of the first great period in Christian thought has been thoroughly updated in the light of the latest historical findings. Dr. Kelly organizes an ocean of material by outlining the development of each doctrine in its historical context. He lucidly summarizes the genesis of Chrisitian thought from the close of the apostolic age t This revised edition of the standard history of the first great period in Christian thought has been thoroughly updated in the light of the latest historical findings. Dr. Kelly organizes an ocean of material by outlining the development of each doctrine in its historical context. He lucidly summarizes the genesis of Chrisitian thought from the close of the apostolic age to the Council of Chalcedon in the fifth century--a time teeming with fresh and competing ideas. The doctrines of the Trinity, the authority of the Bible and tradition, the nature of Christ, salvation, original sin and grace, and the sacraments are all extensively treated in these pages.This revised edition of Early Christian Doctrines includes: Sweepingly updated early chapters Revised and updated bibliographies A completely new chapter on Mary and the saints

30 review for Early Christian Doctrines

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brent McCulley

    Kelly simply does a fantastic job at surveying the history and evolution of early dogma through the fifth century. He treats each topic as its own, but runs through each one chronologically, and footnotes the Fathers in the primary sources voluminously. We trace the history of the evolution of Theology proper, Christology, The Sacraments, Ecclesiology, Soteriology, Eschatology, and he even completes the book with the evolution of Mariology. Kelly's treatment is well balanced, and fair, and is th Kelly simply does a fantastic job at surveying the history and evolution of early dogma through the fifth century. He treats each topic as its own, but runs through each one chronologically, and footnotes the Fathers in the primary sources voluminously. We trace the history of the evolution of Theology proper, Christology, The Sacraments, Ecclesiology, Soteriology, Eschatology, and he even completes the book with the evolution of Mariology. Kelly's treatment is well balanced, and fair, and is the standard go to for then history of early dogma. While more work and new research has pressed certain prevailing theories out of the way for new ones, especially in the area of Chalcedon theology, Alexandrian "school" vs. Antiochene, the theology of Theodore of Mopseustia, etc., the text as a whole is extremely well presented and has a scholarly precision and terseness that still makes this treatment go to for seminarians and theologians alike.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Zack

    Well-written, well-organized by loci (heads of doctrine), and captivating. Though JND Kelly’s goal in this book is to outline and detail (to some extent) Christian Theology in the first four centuries of the church, he does not lose the feel of a narrative or story. There are times when he harps on “puritanical” religion in an anachronistic way, and some of his “between-the-lines” biases are out of line (pun intended), but overall, this book serves as an excellent introduction to early Christian Well-written, well-organized by loci (heads of doctrine), and captivating. Though JND Kelly’s goal in this book is to outline and detail (to some extent) Christian Theology in the first four centuries of the church, he does not lose the feel of a narrative or story. There are times when he harps on “puritanical” religion in an anachronistic way, and some of his “between-the-lines” biases are out of line (pun intended), but overall, this book serves as an excellent introduction to early Christian doctrine. Reading level is between popular and technical. Works of the Fathers are cited, but the prose is accessible to educated and thoughtful popular audiences.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Goetz

    An invaluable work. Kelly judiciously and lucidly explicates doctrinal development and settlement in the Church from the Apostolic Fathers up through the Council of Chalcedon. He breaks the book up into three major parts: Prolegomena, Pre-Nicene Theology, and Nicaea to Chalcedon, with an Epilogue at the end covering eschatology and Mariology. Each part contains chapters on particular loci, so it's not only a great overall snapshot of development in the early Church but also an accessible and pr An invaluable work. Kelly judiciously and lucidly explicates doctrinal development and settlement in the Church from the Apostolic Fathers up through the Council of Chalcedon. He breaks the book up into three major parts: Prolegomena, Pre-Nicene Theology, and Nicaea to Chalcedon, with an Epilogue at the end covering eschatology and Mariology. Each part contains chapters on particular loci, so it's not only a great overall snapshot of development in the early Church but also an accessible and pretty concise reference for anyone looking to explore the early development of any particular doctrine and to get a brief introduction to the major players.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    During my first evening at Union Theological Seminary an older student solicited my attention to certain boxes of books. He was about to graduate and wanted to unload his old coursebooks. One of them was John Norman Davidson Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines in an old edition which he assured me was still in use. I bought it and a host of other tomes. His advice was correct. Looking at it, I find notes in the margins and an almost indecipherable notecard. Reading it was like reading any well wri During my first evening at Union Theological Seminary an older student solicited my attention to certain boxes of books. He was about to graduate and wanted to unload his old coursebooks. One of them was John Norman Davidson Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines in an old edition which he assured me was still in use. I bought it and a host of other tomes. His advice was correct. Looking at it, I find notes in the margins and an almost indecipherable notecard. Reading it was like reading any well written, single-author textbook. It is dry and to the point.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Reese Walling

    An objective and extremely enjoyable examination of the patristic doctrines, J.N.D. Kelly does a great job of examining the key studies of Trinitarian, Christological, and Ecclesiastical from the post-apostolic age to the end of the fifth century. Littered with quotes from all the main church fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyril, Origen, Athanasius, Gregory, Augustine, etc.) and heretics (Pelagius, Donatus, Apollinaris, etc.), Kelly traces the main thoughts and developments of the pillars of the An objective and extremely enjoyable examination of the patristic doctrines, J.N.D. Kelly does a great job of examining the key studies of Trinitarian, Christological, and Ecclesiastical from the post-apostolic age to the end of the fifth century. Littered with quotes from all the main church fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyril, Origen, Athanasius, Gregory, Augustine, etc.) and heretics (Pelagius, Donatus, Apollinaris, etc.), Kelly traces the main thoughts and developments of the pillars of the Christian faith, without adding in hardly any of his own personal beliefs or views on the subject (which, to me, is an incredibly impressive task given the nature of the subjects at hand). Through this book, I was able to catch a glimpse of the early church thought on the Christian's salvation (usually including the concept of deification), the nature of the Godhead in essence and in the economy of salvation, the incarnation of the Son and all it entails for both His person and how it relates to our salvation, and even an enjoying examination on the early church fathers' views on eschatology (end times). This served well as an entry into the early patristic thought. Though lacking in in-depth analysis often, Kelly's goal set out from the beginning was to give a picture of the forest without looking too much at the trees. I couldn't have been more satisfied.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Connor Longaphie

    This is perfect. Not to long, but very thorough. An essential volume to any Christians library.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter Bringe

    This was a valuable read. I would like to read more of the church fathers' own writings, but this was a great overview. While the early church was generally imprecise with its doctrines (although they could get very precise when that was needed, e.g. the Trinity), they often did a good job of grasping the foundations and spirit of Christianity, which is important for us to remember. This book helped me, not only learning what the early church taught, but also the process of development that goes This was a valuable read. I would like to read more of the church fathers' own writings, but this was a great overview. While the early church was generally imprecise with its doctrines (although they could get very precise when that was needed, e.g. the Trinity), they often did a good job of grasping the foundations and spirit of Christianity, which is important for us to remember. This book helped me, not only learning what the early church taught, but also the process of development that goes on with theological understanding. If you want a good understanding of what the early church taught and debated, this is the book to get.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Withun

    -

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    A classic work on early Christian theology. Erudite, balanced, thorough. Age alone is beginning to wear at its usefulness.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jake Pacigena

    For the person interested in the intricacies of early church theology, this tome is as good as it is purported to be. It's exhaustive and focused and not for the average layman. Kelly's work is on-par with Jaroslav Pelikan's work. Kelly was an Anglican, though this does little to sway his assessment of this crucial period in history; for instance, when considering the question of Roman primacy, Kelly does not shrink away from evidence that could be used to support Rome. One of the greatest stren For the person interested in the intricacies of early church theology, this tome is as good as it is purported to be. It's exhaustive and focused and not for the average layman. Kelly's work is on-par with Jaroslav Pelikan's work. Kelly was an Anglican, though this does little to sway his assessment of this crucial period in history; for instance, when considering the question of Roman primacy, Kelly does not shrink away from evidence that could be used to support Rome. One of the greatest strengths to this tome is its treatment of heresies. In all, this work has taught me much about what heretics such as Arius, Apollinarius, and Nestorius believed. The only work that comes close is McGuckin's with respect to Nestorius. While it's easy to understand at a basic level what heretics believed, Kelly's gift is to see things from their perspective, while consequently showing how the Church responded to them. While Pelikan's work, for instance, focuses on broad trains of thought within the Church at that time, Kelly's is more precise and technical, going into intense detail, citing a wide range of figures. I even became aware of a few lesser known figures that Pelikan and other scholars don't even mention. Pelikan and Kelly obviously differ on the goal of their work, and each serves a particular need with respect to the study of early Christian theology. I can say with confidence that this book will be continually referenced in the years to come.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ben Chidester

    When I started learning about the early church, I should have started with this book. Kelly manages to succinctly summarize the salient features of the main points of doctrine (such as the Trinity, Christology, ecclesiology, the sacraments) and introduce you to the main figures, while remaining fairly objective in his interpretation. It is structured thematically by doctrine, and the history of each doctrine, before Nicea and the century or so afterward, is traced, with comparisons made between When I started learning about the early church, I should have started with this book. Kelly manages to succinctly summarize the salient features of the main points of doctrine (such as the Trinity, Christology, ecclesiology, the sacraments) and introduce you to the main figures, while remaining fairly objective in his interpretation. It is structured thematically by doctrine, and the history of each doctrine, before Nicea and the century or so afterward, is traced, with comparisons made between Eastern and Western developments. For anyone trying to get their bearings on the prominent figures and beliefs of the early church, this is an excellent reference. Primary source references are thoroughly provided, making it a great reference also for further inquiry.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Del Herman

    Magisterial book by the great Early Church scholar, theologian, and Anglican priest J.N.D Kelly, describing the development of doctrine in Early Christianity dating from the influences coming from the Greek and Jewish worlds through the Council of Chalcedon in the mid-5th Century. Incredibly informative and thorough on the main issues pressing up against the pre-Medieval church. Fascinating.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Phillip Howell

    This book was not fun to read but it is an amazing source of information. It is packed with content and depth. It is hard to keep track of all the people he talks about at times. It is likely only useful for serious students of church history. It is dry reading but I personally learned so much that it was worth the effort.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christian Proano

    Great book, just bear in mind that as accurate as he tries to be, you won't get the full picture and force of each Father's argument unless you actually read what they wrote and not just a quotation here and there. So feel free to use this as a to read list of Church Fathers.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard Worden

    A classic study of the development of Christian doctrines. The book has a valuable introduction to Gnosticism.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Austin Mcgrath

    Great primer and outline on early christian doctrine! Will be a useful resource.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    The standard and justifiably a classic. I go back to it regularly.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jason Wilson

    An excellent and accessible narrative of the formation of Christian doctrine through the early centuries. Doctrine has its heroes and villains like any other history and they are all here.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sean McGowan

    Excellent overview of the history of doctrine. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cody Cunningham

    A dense, but necessary resource for anyone interested in the development of dogma in the early church. Kelly’s breadth of knowledge of both the Eastern and Western theological streams is remarkable.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fr. Ted

    A really good history of the development of doctrines in the first 5 Centuries of Christianity, comparing and contrasting the Western and Eastern writers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    In this book, J.N.D. Kelly outlines in satisfying detail the development of Christian theological orthodoxy through the first five centuries CE. This entails discussions of the most fundamental, frequently vexed, questions of Christian theology, including the structure of the Trinity, the relation of Christ's human and divine natures, the human condition and free will, and the means by which salvation is effected. The reader is introduced to the major contributors to debate on each issue, the ph In this book, J.N.D. Kelly outlines in satisfying detail the development of Christian theological orthodoxy through the first five centuries CE. This entails discussions of the most fundamental, frequently vexed, questions of Christian theology, including the structure of the Trinity, the relation of Christ's human and divine natures, the human condition and free will, and the means by which salvation is effected. The reader is introduced to the major contributors to debate on each issue, the philosophical and Scriptural underpinnings of their arguments, and the spectrum of fates to which history assigned their thought, from Catholic orthodoxy to heretical footnote. Kelly self-consciously constrains the discussion, as much as is possible, strictly to the theological matters at hand, touching only briefly upon their broader social, political, and ecclesiastical contexts, or the biographies of their exponents, when directly bearing upon ideological developments. An Anglican priest, Kelly does not obfuscate the fact that he is writing from the perspective of one who believes the essential truths of the faith he is describing, but at no point does this interfere with his balanced, objective exposition of the conflicting viewpoints espoused in the first centuries of that faith's interpretation and codification.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fr. Daniel Carr

    This book does a great job of summarizing the thinkers of the early Church in an organized way. It seemed to be presented in a very Catholic way, but was not unfair to the thinkers themselves, even not those supporting ideas later deemed heresy. The organization itself was by subject - it was helpful to have all of the thoughts regarding Christ, the Trinity, the Church, and the Sacraments (just as examples) put together in one place. It makes this a wonderful reference book. I believe that this in This book does a great job of summarizing the thinkers of the early Church in an organized way. It seemed to be presented in a very Catholic way, but was not unfair to the thinkers themselves, even not those supporting ideas later deemed heresy. The organization itself was by subject - it was helpful to have all of the thoughts regarding Christ, the Trinity, the Church, and the Sacraments (just as examples) put together in one place. It makes this a wonderful reference book. I believe that this information should be more well known, because there seems to be a great deal of confusion and suspicion about the early Church and how it came about. A reader of this text can see just how naturally the church grew and developed amid its struggles. I greatly enjoyed this book and even though I didn't finish the last handful of chapters, I will certainly use it as a reference book in years to come.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

    A strong account of Early Christian Theology and thought from the second to fifth/sixth centuries. Kelly's focus and speciality is on theology of the 3rd-4th centuries, particularly the Christological controversies, Trinitarianism, and formation of creeds and councils. This revised version includes more work on the earlier centuries but it still is lacking (one can imagine the previous edition was even more disparate). EC Doctrines, however, will provide most useful for those interested in the f A strong account of Early Christian Theology and thought from the second to fifth/sixth centuries. Kelly's focus and speciality is on theology of the 3rd-4th centuries, particularly the Christological controversies, Trinitarianism, and formation of creeds and councils. This revised version includes more work on the earlier centuries but it still is lacking (one can imagine the previous edition was even more disparate). EC Doctrines, however, will provide most useful for those interested in the formation of Roman Catholicism and the buildup to the East/West split. Kelly fairly treats these theological issues but is realistic about the development of Catholic dogma and does not presume it's early existence.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bernard

    This is a classic, and despite using it as a reference for ages I'm ashamed that I've only read it through recently. Kelly's work is not new, with the latest (5th edition) being dated 1977, but it has aged exceptionally well. Kelly writes with moderation and a good grasp of the 'big picture' providing a solid synthesis which serves equally well as an introduction to the history of theology and as a reference work for the serious student of theology.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Comprehensive resource on the early churches' variations in beliefs, but boring as a straight read. This book is clearly meant to be a reference! For a more readable account of the early church's thought, see Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley or A Concise History of Christian Thought by Tony Lane. When you need exhaustive detail, however, this is the book to have.

  27. 5 out of 5

    D.N.

    A standard text hallowed by theological students for decades, this is an excellent reference and overview of the history of early Christian belief and doctrinal development. Dryly-written, restrained, and erudite, Kelly is a reliable scholar of the early Fathers and has earned the trust of generations of the faithful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Thomas

    Kelly walks seamlessly through the first five centuries of Christian history, chiseling out the progress of doctrinal development. The way in which Kelly discusses the various issues reveals the importance of interpreting the Fathers within the context of their own time, and their own doctrinal struggles. Brilliant read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ronnie Curfman

    This work is essential for anyone who wants to understand theology better. The doctrines which are often taken for granted today were hashed out in the early church. This is a heavy read but worth the work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dware

    Very good book that traces the philosphical roots of and various internal and external impacts on the Trinity and other early (first through fourth century) Christian doctrines.

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