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The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God
Yale University Press / 2003 / Paperback
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In this eloquent introduction to early Christian thought, eminient religious historian Robert Louis Wilken examines the tradition of such figures as St. Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and others set in place. Wilken shows how these early thinkers constructed a new intellectual and spiritual world and can still be heard as living voices in the modern world. He describes how giants in Christian antiquity forged their intellectual worldviews and how they can still be living voices in the modern world.
"Copious erudition and an eye for apt quotations make this book as instructive for scholars as it is entertaining to the general public"---Theological Book Review
In this eloquent introduction to early Christian thought, eminent religious historian Robert Louis Wilken examines the tradition that such figures as St. Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and others set in place. These early thinkers constructed a new intellectual and spiritual world, Wilken shows, and they can still be heard as living voices in the modern world.In chapters on topics including early Christian worship, Christian poetry and the spiritual life, the Trinity, Christ, the Bible, and icons, Wilken shows that the energy and vitality of early Christianity arose from within the life of the Church. While early Christian thinkers drew on the philosophical and rhetorical traditions of the ancient world, it was the versatile vocabulary of the Bible that loosened their tongues and minds and allowed them to construct the world anew, intellectually and spiritually. These thinkers were not seeking to invent a world of ideas, Wilken shows, but rather to win the hearts of men and women and to change their lives.
Early Christian thinkers set in place a foundation that has endured. Their writings are an irreplaceable inheritance, and Wilken shows that they can still be heard as living voices within contemporary culture.
Robert Louis Wilken is William R. Kenan Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Virginia. His previous books include The Land Called Holy.
“Magnificently learned [and] deeply felt. . . . An attentive reader of Wilken, whether believer or nonbeliever, will be touched anew by his survey of Christian intellectual life.” —Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
“This is not a book written for the academy but for all readers. . . . [Wilken] provides for a new generation . . . a sense of what is important about those astonishing teachers of the early church who instructed the ages after them.”—Luke Timothy Johnson, America
“Get The Spirit of Early Christian Thought and read it. Read it slowly, letting Wilken take you by the hand. . . . Let [Wilken] show you a more excellent way.”—Richard John Neuhaus, First Things
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