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By Henry Barclay Swete / Longman / 1902
The aim of Patristic Study is to draw the attention of the reader to the vast store of wisdom to be found in the writings of the Fathers of the ancient church. Monuments of Christian thought in the first generations of the Church’s life, the writings of the Fathers are still of perennial interest and importance. As Henry Barclay Swete states, “The Fathers, in the stricter sense of the term, are the great champions of orthodox belief, whose writings became the standard of Catholic truth.”
Patristic Study focuses almost exclusively on the Fathers of the first five Centuries. After reviewing these writers, Dr. Swete proceeds in the closing chapters to suggest methods of employing the work of the Fathers for the particular purposes of those in different lines of religious and theological study. Also included is a useful bibliography of Patristics.
A contemporary assessment of Patristic Study from The Sewanee Review Quarterly had this to say:
“[Patristic Study] is a useful introduction to the study of the Fathers of the Church, and, while intended primarily for the use of clergymen of the Anglican communion, is likely to prove helpful to many others to whom the early Christian literature is a matter of interest.”
Excerpted from Biographical Entries from Evangelical Dictionary of Theology .
Swete, Henry Barclay (1835-1917) Anglican scholar. Theological professor in London (1882–90) and Cambridge (1890–1915), he published works on the OT and NT, and on Christian doctrine. Though he espoused modern critical methods in biblical studies, he respected those who reached different conclusions from his own. He himself was oddly conservative on occasion: on some of the Johannine discourses, for example, and on miracles. He edited various Greek texts, including the LXX, stimulated his students to undertake serious research, and founded the prestigious Journal of Theological Studies (1899). His work in The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church (1912) was long used as a standard textbook. He was the chief architect of the work known popularly as Cambridge Theological Questions (1905), a symposium written by leading scholars of the day. In it Swete commented on what he saw as the most important work of the twentieth century church: to assimilate new truth without sacrificing the primitive message, and “to state in terms adapted to the need of a new century the truths which the ancient Church expressed in those which were appropriate for its own times.” A sequel, Cambridge Biblical Questions, followed in 1909. In it Swete rejected the suggestion that the spread of knowledge would shake the credit of the Bible in the public estimation.
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