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INTRODUCTION m40RLD WAR II was hardly over before the movement of . Christian intellectual reconversion was far on its way. One of the first signs of this new life was the effort of Dr. Ludwig Schopp to interest American scholars in a new translation of the classics of early Christian literature. His general policy and preliminary plans had, in fact, been already formulated before the outbreak of the war. Dr. Schopp's dream was of a collaborative effort-both American and Catholic-in which the best available scholarship in theology, patristics, history and classical philology could combine to produce an accurate, readable, moderately priced and thoroughly modern rendering of the precious literature of the first seven centuries of the Christian era. The present volume, The Apostolic Fathers,! is the first of a projected series of seventy-two. It contains but a samplethough a notable one-of the treasury of wisdom, culture, heroism and holiness revealed in early Christianity. The volume should make an appeal to every Christian mind and heart-and, not least, to those who, by the vicissitudes of later history, have become separated from the center of Catholic unity. The Apostolic Fathers wrote at a time when heresy and schism had, indeed, begun their perennial work of religious corrosion, but long before the great constitutional revolts of Constantinople and Canterbury from Rome had wrought their seemingly irreparable damage to the seamless robe. In these primitive writings, as in a mirror, all Christians whose minds and wills and souls are wholly set on the Truth 1 The Apostolic Fathers is a collective name, in use since the 17th century. for a group of Christian writers who either were or were believed to be disciples of the Apostles. Cf. Bihlmeyer, Die apostolischen Viiter (Tubingen 1924) VIIf. ix INTRODUCTION and Way and Life of Jesus Christ will find a dogmatic creed, a moral code, an ecclesiastical constitution and, above all, an inward character of devotional, supernatural, sacramental life that are self-authenticating. In the presence of martyrs, saints, scholars and simple souls like Pope Clement of Rome or Bishop Ignatius of Antioch or Polycarp of Smyrna or the author of the Didache or the Shepherd or the Letter to Diognetus no one will feel inclined to apply such labels as 'Romilnism' or 'Byzantinism,' or 'Protestantism.' And, on the other hand, there is no Christian who will not feel that he has the right-and still more the duty-to ask himself whether his heart burns, as these early Christian hearts burned, with love for Jesus Christ, our Lord; whether his mind is as clear as these minds were clear in regard to the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of inward communion with the Holy Spirit and of outward communion with the government of one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; whether his soul is nourished, as these souls were nourished, with the sacraments-and, especially, the Eucharistic sacrament-of which there is here such unmistakable witness. As subsequent volumes of this series are published, it should become clearer not only to Christians but to others as well that, during the first seven centuries that followed the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, men of towering genius and of heroic mold, born in many lands and in different ages, men of diverse character, education, racial origin and political background, men inclined to defend their owp brilliant and original opinions and the cherished customs of their own locality sought and found a common life, a common bond of love, a common source of spiritual strength that leveled frontiers and made them members of a single family. x INTROD UCTION Men who do not admit the full claims of Christianitv will read these documents with some interest. Even those' who take pride in the 'modern mind' and the 'contemporary mood' will feel little sense of intellectual superiority when they meet the minds of men like Athanasius, Basil or Augustine. It will be still harder to entertain any feeling of moral superiority in the presence of men like Ignatius of Antioch, Cyprian of Carthage or Chrysostom of Constantinople. Those who imagine that Christianity involves some kind of passive conformism will be startled by the aggressive tenacity of men like Irenaeus, Hippolytus or Jerome. And those who insist that convictions should emerge from genuine debate will learn something from the subtle and vigorous polemics with heretics as skillful as Novatian, Sabellius, Donatus, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinaris, Pelagius and Nestorius. There was...


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