Jimmy Akin’s new book The Fathers Know Best
is more than just a collection of quotes from the Church Fathers. The first major section contains a lot of information on the Church Fathers and related subjects. Ably and fully answered is the definition of what the definition is of a Church Father in the first place compared to who would come under the column of an ecclesial writer. A list of the Church Fathers along with short biographies and the time frame is provided along with other useful lists concerning the various councils and heresies from this period. Some of the stories included in the biographies are quite interesting and it is obvious care was taken to provide just information that could be historically verified.
The majority of the book is broken up into major topics and then sections within those topics. These sections such as the Trinity, Primacy of Peter, Women’s Ordination contain an introduction followed by multiple quotes which are sorted by earlier to later Church Fathers. Where applicable along with these quotes are also listed any canons from Church Councils pertaining to the subject. The introductions are very good and give a good summary of the subject from scripture, tradition, and magisterial teaching.
For the most part the quotes are taken from a publicly available Protestant translation of the Church Fathers. So this is perfect for apologetics work and this makes it easy for others to see the full context of the original writings. In some cases fair use quotes of Catholic translations are used because they were left out of the aforementioned Protestant translation.
This is really one of the best references concerning the Church Fathers in that it is very easy to find information on the topic you want and their are multiple indexes in the back to make this easier. It is quite fascinating just to read through what the Church Fathers had said especially where you can see the development of doctrine or to see just how early and in-depth a doctrine had been fleshed out. Some things that I though had become more developed in the age of the Scholastics I was very surprised to see thought out in much detail very early in the Church.
As a one volume reference this is a worthy entry in the field of Patristics and I recommend it fully.
This book also has a companion blog that contains posts related to the book and video’s on related book content.
There will also be a Kindle version of this book coming up.