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When the Church Was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  335 ratings  ·  70 reviews
If the word trinity isn’t in Scripture, why is it such an important part of our faith? And if the Bible can be interpreted in many ways, how do we know what to make of it? And who decided what should be in the Bible anyway?

The Church Fathers provide the answers. These brilliant, embattled, and sometimes eccentric men defined the biblical canon, hammered out the Creed, and
Kindle Edition, 207 pages
Published July 17th 2014 by Franciscan Media (first published May 20th 2014)
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This was an amazing book on the church fathers.
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2014-list
When the Church Was Young is gripping, compelling, and fast-moving. It's hard to believe it's about a bunch of old dead guys, honestly, and D'Ambrosio inspires a love of history, crafts a great story, and plants an appreciation for where we are 2000 years later. I've wanted to learn more in the 300-page adventure with this book than I have since college. D'Ambrosio doesn't just bring the past alive: he makes it relevant and he makes the Church Fathers into the superheroes they deserve to be.

D’Ambrosio brings life and context to the lives of those who led the Church in the years following the deaths of the apostles. This book was a fast read with an engaging style. What struck me most was the ongoing and strong heresy of Arianism (the belief that Jesus was not coequal with God the Father). I also truly appreciated the weight given to the use of terminology and how people can believe that they disagree because of the different terms they’ve come to use in describing something, but ...more
Jeff Miller
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to books on the Early Church Fathers there seems to be an increasing wealth of good books on the subject. One of my favorite books in this area is Rod Bennett’s “Four Witnesses: The Early Church in Her Own Words”. The reason I so loved this book is that Rod Bennett is a natural storyteller along with being a good historical researcher. His writing not only brought these men alive, but the historical era as well.

So I was delighted to find another book on the Church Fathers that was
John Martindale
D'Ambrosio is a good writer, the book moved along at a nice pace. I did quickly discover the book is written from an overtly catholic perspective and was likely intended for a catholic audience. The main emphasis of the book is how concepts like apostolic succession, Transubstantiation, prayer to saints, the emasculate conception, the elevation of Mary to the "Mother of God", paying penance, infant baptism, etc... were taught by the church fathers, and therefore, it should be assumed that they ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is no dry and dusty history book: it’s an examination of the lives, times and personalities of the men who shaped the first seven hundred years of the Church. The Church Fathers kept the Faith going through the era when Christians were in imminent danger of martyrdom, refined teachings on the Trinity and Christ’s human and divine natures, defended the Faith and shaped our traditions of worship.

Dr. D’Ambrosio vividly describes what it was like to live as a Christian in those first seven
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When the Church was Young is a book about the Early Church Fathers and the latest book from Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, also known as Dr. Italy. The book covers more than 500 years; both Eastern and Western Fathers; and men from Asia, Africa, and Europe. Some of the big names in this book are St. Augustine, St. Gregory the Great, St. Jerome, and St. John Chrysostom. However, there are many other names in this book including St. Basil, Terutillian, and St. Cyprian.

Dr. D'Ambrosio begins the book by
Mike Cymbor
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a masterful summary of the words of the early Church Fathers. I have read other books on the early Church and early Church Fathers and they were fine, but this book brings both to life. Each Father has an intriguing and compelling story that is told in a conversationalist manner so as to leap off the page. For example, when threatened with torture and death, Justin Martyr responds (page 57) to the prefect of Rome by saying, “We ask nothing better than to suffer for the name of our ...more
Lisa Hendey
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the same way that I used to lovingly tell my sons bedtime stories about our family of origin to help them proudly appreciate and more fully love their ancestors, Marcellino D'Ambrosio offers us the story of our Fathers, the master builders of the Church instituted by Jesus Christ. With rich historical context that is at once comprehensive and highly readable, When the Church Was Young is the perfect primer for any Christian. Revisit history, place worship into context and better understand ...more
Jillien Minera
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

This book was comprehensive yet free flowing and engaging. I was able to get a good understanding of each father, while also having additional references to explore. Great read.
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is my short review: the best book that I read in 2014.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, non-fiction, 2020
Excellent introduction, but I can tell this is only brushing the surface of the depth of the Church Fathers' writings and early Church history!
Brian Kiczek
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ignorance of Church History is Ignorance of Christ

This book is all about all the major church fathers called the Early Fathers starting with the first Fathers Pope Clement and St. Ignatius of Antioch and leaving us with last in Pope St. Gregory the Great, and in between is so many amazing heros and defenders of the faith. You will learn about them and also learn what it is that they teach us about Christ.

This book is perfect for you to learn more about Christ and His Holy Church than any book
Sandro Gregorat
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Book is a rare combination of entertainment and learning. It is dense of profound concepts but at the same is rich in spiritual emotions. You feel that the author is moved by the examples of faith that he describes.
Often the words talk straight to your heart after reaching your mind. As the title says this book is about the beginnings of the Christian church. It was a time of trials and tribulations for the young church. The Roman persecutions kept coming and when finally the dangers
Adam Shields
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: This is a good introduction to the history and writing of the early church fathers (those just after the apostles until about 600AD). D'Ambrosio does a good job of putting these pastors, bishops and lay people in context. When I have read some other survey history of this era I either got to much history and not enough writing or vice versa (or too much look at topical issues.) But for me this hit a sweet spot for introducing me to more of what the early church taught and ...more
Alex Boshart
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When the Church Was Young does a fantastic job portraying the common inheritance the entire Christian family has and owes to the ‘Fathers of the Church’. Dr. D’Ambrosio candidly depicts the leaders and martyrs of the early Church by capturing their personalities through their vivid and detailed life all the way up until martyrdom or death. With 26 Chapters of short biographies on the great figures that have so richly shaped the Church into maturity, there is bound to be at least one prominent ...more
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Wonderful book for anyone interested in a first look at the Church Fathers or Early Christianity. D'Ambrosio does not seek to give full biographies or full catalog of early documents. Instead this book makes these great men and women real people with families and sins and problems and describes the times they lived in. Some lengthy quotes are included in other places only snippets as the case required to demonstrate the faith and teachings of these people. For example, St Augustine sounds like ...more
Casey Taylor
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
"When the Church was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers" is a fabulous scenic drive through the landscape of early Christian history. Readers meet the movers and shakers of the early church (post-New Testament) like Tertullian, Ignatius, Origen, the Cappadocians and Augustine. These powerhouse intellectuals are known as "the church fathers." D'Ambrosio provides just enough insight into each person's life and thought so as to keep the story moving.

I studied early Christianity in seminary and
Nikki White
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book, I am ready for the next big-budget summer blockbuster... "ATHANASIUS- Part One of the Arianism Chronicles"! Not only does this excellent book read like an action-packed novel, but the snippets of the actual writings of the Church Fathers whets one's appetite for more early Christian literature! An added bonus is how the book gives you a great sense of perspective about the Church, ancient AND modern... as a great history book should! Entertaining, enjoyable, informative ...more
Fr Kelly
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After years living in the Holy Land, the hard reality on the ground greatly helps our understanding of revelation and its written record. It is not easy from far-away to capture the nuances. “When the Church was young” in a way gets you very close up to the hard facts of those first five centuries of Christianity which now seem so distant. Reading D'Ambrosio's "thriller", they come alive and totally relevant to us now
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Studying the writings of the early Church Fathers brings clarity to what the Church believes and why. Dr. Italy reminds us that no Church Father of the first 600 years depicted the Church's Sunday worship as a service of singing and preaching. The Eucharist is understood not as a mere symbolic reminder but as bodily presence and sacrifice, as referenced everywhere in the writings of the Fathers.
Rosemary Gatti
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More than a story, this book is a living, breathing testament to a profound understanding of our church and her early scholars and martyrs. When the Church Was Young breathes life and inspiration into the hearts and minds of those searching for truth in a time of populist culture. This is a book that will reside in my home, within easy reach for those moments when my faith needs a bit of a fire.
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is phenomenal. It makes the story of the Christian faith come alive, and made me feel rooted in my beliefs. It reveals the coherency of the Christian faith, and undercuts the argument that the Church has distorted the beliefs about Christ that we profess today.
Jacob O'connor
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent introductory history of the early church. D’Ambrosio gives great insights into the fathers, and he never goes over his reader’s head.

I’d recommend it for anyone interested in their history.
Patrick Broussard
Great introduction to some of the most important figures in the first 600+ years of the Church. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about their Catholic faith!
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall an enjoyable book. However, there were a few things that bothered me throughout the book. The first was that the author used the term "The Catholic Church" interchangeably to refer to both the pre-schism Church and the post-schism Roman Church. He also used the term "Catholic Christian" to refer to any orthodox pre-schism Christian and any post-schism Roman Christian. This usage tended to imply that the Roman Church did not schism from the rest of the church, and imply that Orthodoxy is ...more
Brett Folkman
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I don't agree with his interpretation of doctrine, I found this book very well done in providing a high level fly by of the life and situation of many of the early christian fathers. I love reading the their teachings and about their lives, many truths they taught have been lost through the many councils and subsequent dogma over the years. For example Origen of Alexandria had it right when he taught we existed before as a spirit before taking upon us flesh in this life - the doctrine of a ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing read. As a lapsed Christian who's now agnostic, I was intrigued to learn more about the earliest days of the faith -- particularly what shaped the Church into what it has become today. Was pleasantly surprised at some of the details uncovered by this volume, particularly with regards to key theological conundrums faced by the early leaders during a time when the world was quite hostile toward this burgeoning new belief system. Especially the concept of Holy Trinity, which had always been ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an informed book with very specific target readers (Roman Catholics) in mind. Its purpose is primarily not to inform about the early church fathers, but rather to show what problems these long dead men had to struggle with and pin down similarities between the state of the church in the first millenium after Christ and that of the present day.
As an unbeliever, I found it annoying at time, laughable at other times. It seems to mix legends and facts with no critical distancing.
This is not
Tony Raissian
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is quite skilled at distilling some of the more impactful acts of the early church leaders and theologians.
My only critique is the overt, subjective nature of his style. Perhaps it’s because I’ve just finished books by more objective historians, the judgement calls the author makes seem unnecessary. For example, calling someone’s interpretation of the Trinity ‘obviously wrong’ could have easily been adjusted to, ‘no longer accepted by the Roman church’.
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Raised in Italian/Irish neighborhood in Providence, RI, Marcellino D’Ambrosio never thought about being anything else but Catholic. But like other Catholic teens, his faith was the last place he looked for fulfillment. Following in the footsteps of his parents, both professional performers in their single years, Marcellino set his sights on stardom, playing bass guitar in several popular rock ...more
“Rome herself was no longer new. She had grown old and decrepit. The republic of Cicero had degenerated into the despotism of Caesar. Tyrant after tyrant had seized power at the price of much bloodshed. Devotion to family, hard work, and frugality had been replaced by an addiction to pleasure and power. A welfare state based on conquest and slave labor bought the loyalty of the mob with free bread and gladiator games. The people were all too ready to trade their liberty for creature comforts.” 0 likes
“Do not hesitate to give and do not give with bad grace; for you will discover who He is that pays you back a reward with a good grace. Do not turn your back on the needy, but share everything with your brother and call nothing your own. For if you have what is eternal in common, how much more should you have what is transient!17” 0 likes
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