Henry Chadwick, Cambridge University: Caredon Press & Oxford University Press, 1984, 8x5" softbound, 182 pages.
This enlightening study examines the relationship of the early Christians to the classical tradition. Based on the work of the Christian thinkers, Justine, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, and existing pagan criticism of the Church, the book illustrates how rejection of the classical tradition combined with profound acceptance of its humanism were synthesized by the early Church.
This little gem by Henry Chadwick is a clear and concise introduction to three early Christian thinkers who addressed the question of how Christianity should interact with philosophy: Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. All three were optimistic about the project of stating Christian faith in terms of the philosophy dominant in their culture. Chadwick's knowledge of the period is both wide and deep, but these essays assume little or no prior knowledge on the part of the reader. They are a lucid and informative introduction to a question which continues to trouble many thoughtful people of faith.
Each thinker, although claiming to critique philosophy on the basis of Christianity, has unwittingly allowed philosophy to influence his understanding of the basis. We can perceive the ancient bias because our modern bias is different. Therefore, one of the ways in which we can be better aware of our own biases is to examine our views from the perspective of ancient thought. This will enable us to examine more options and to form conclusions - or defer conclusions - with greater understanding.
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