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Book Review: Hans Lietzmann
A History of the Early Church, by Hans Lietzmann
I had the great fortune of receiving this four volume set of early church history as a gift from a friend while working on my Ph.D. at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Honestly, I did not realize at the time what a valuable gift I had been given.
"In the year A.D. 177 a similar persecution broke out in Lyons and Vienne owing to popular passion, and these churches also wrote a letter about it to Asia Minor. The vivid descriptions in this letter arouse the deepest emotions in every new generation of readers. In this case, the Christians were genuinely hunted out: we can see the alarmed confusion in the churches; the first instances of torture spread terror abroad, a few recanted, the majority kept themselves timidly in the background, pagan slaves said what was required of them. Then the passion of the populace broke loose, the prison was filled with those who confessed themselves Christians, and all the torments of a brutal, murderous blood-lust broke upon the heads of the unfortunates. Then those who had at first recanted were once more arrested, and gained new courage when brought face to face with death. Pictures painted in blood glower dreadfully before our eyes. Bishop Potheinos at ninety years of age lay in prison, beaten by the fists and trampled by the feet of the mob, until death mercifully released him after two days. The slave girl, Blandina, hung on a cross, her body mangled and her bones broken, as food for wild beasts: to no purpose, for the beasts did not touch her, and so she ended her life on the funeral pyre. In the middle of the arena stood a chair glowing red hot holding the Christians in its Moloch-like arms: the smoke of the burning bodies rose to the sky, and unceasingly from all the places where the martyrs stood, the death cry sounded: I am a Christian, I am a Christian. In the prison, they lay in rows fixed helplessly in stocks, and died a silent death: their bodies provided useful food for the dogs. The executioner piled the pitiable remains into a heap, crowned by the heads of the decapitated Roman citizens: finally, the flames flared up and reduced everything to ashes, and these were thrown into the Rhone with scoffing laughter in order that the Christian hope of resurrection, too, might be destroyed.
In all these bloody terrors, however, the reflection of another world gleamed with light. Heaven opened for the Christians in their agony, Christ descended from His throne at the right hand of God where Stephen had seen Him at the moment of his own death, and spoke encouragement to them; all earthly torments paled before the blessedness of the vision of God. No more pain touched the souls of the blessed: their enraptured faces reflected the glory of the Lord as they left their human condition behind, and became like the angels. Hitherto they had bravely confessed their faith, but their entry into the other world conferred on them the dignity of "martyrs", "witnesses of God", who had warranted the truth of their testimony with their lives---just as had been done by Christ, the "genuine and true witness", and their example. The Church of the earliest period insisted on reserving the title of martyr entirely for those who had suffered death for Christ: only by suffering thus was their witness made perfect." Volume II, pp.161-62
I want to end my review by stating that although Lietzmann followed the more liberal views of his tutor Harnack, the more conservative reader should not be afraid of this volume. You will be presented with historical data that any serious student of early Christianity MUST wrestle with - ALL data is good and must be faced. I would urge any serious student of early Christianity to purchase this volume. You will use Lietzmann for the remainder of your life - this work will stand the test of time.
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Origen and Universalism
Water Baptism - Early Church
Church Fathers and NT Revelation
Church Fathers Santification, Holiness
Sabbath and Christian Worship
Baptism Early Church Scholars
Constantine Christianity Sunday Worship
Paul Apollos Hebrews Philo
Jesus Paganism and Early Christianity
Constantine vs Donatists
Constantine Worship of Sol Invictus
Tertullian Paul and Marcion
Early Church Fathers Book of Revelation
Early Church Fathers Military and War
Palestine in the Ancient World
Christian use of Candles in Worship
Christians and Pagan Influences
Sabbath Day Worship
Baptismal Practices in the Early Church
Constantine - Sol Invictus
Who Wrote Hebrews in the Bible?
Emperor Constantine Donatus
Constantine and the Sunday Law
Tertullian Paul as False Apostle
Apostolic Succession-Early Church
Athanasius the Black Dwarf?
Apocalypse Revelation Interpretations
New Testament, Faith, and the Resurrection
New Testament and Tithing
Pagan Influences on Christianity
Hellenized Jews and Pagan Influences
Sabbath Day and Sunday Worship
Baptism in the Early Church
Emperor Constantine - Christianity
Constantine Led an Army?
Did Paul or Apollos Write Hebrews?
Constantine Council of Nicea 325AD
Jesus Words Only - Del Tondo
First Century Apostolic Succession
Was Saint Athanasius Black?
Bart Ehrman New Testament
David Bercot and Heretics
Hannah Whitall Smith
David Bercot and Church History
Keeping the Sabbath
Baptismal Practice - Early Church
Emperor Constantine the Great
Who Wrote Hebrews? Paul or Apollos
The Real Story of Constantine vs Donatists
Role of Constantine in Development Christianity
Douglas Del Tondo and David Bercot
Gonzalez and Athanasius