STORIES OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY — Creative Retellings of Faith and History by van Thanh Nguyen, SVD
(Liguori Publications, 2013, supplied by Pleroma Christian Supplies); $25.50. Reviewed by ANNA-MARIE BARRETT.
Stories of Early Christianity is a great read if you’re looking for some lighter reading over Christmas —
with the added bonus of opportunities for prayer and reflection and the chance to learn more about
the fascinating history of the early Church.
It’s mainly based on the Acts of the Apostles and is an easy-to-read, enjoyable way of getting to know
and understand the oft-forgotten early Church better. It also has some great pointers for reflection and Bible study, using the example of Christ’s first followers to help us deepen our own faith and understanding.
I enjoyed reading it, and will definitely be going back to it again later.
Each chapter focuses on a different member of the early Church, re-imagining them and bringing them to life in a creative retelling of their own part in the Church’s history.
Some of the “contributors” are more well-known, like Mary and Luke, and some are lesser known but equally fascinating, such as Rhoda and Lydia. The book is chronological, beginning with the Ascension and moving
through Pentecost, the Jerusalem Council and Paul’s journeys.
The chapters finish with a reflection and some questions for the reader on her or his own spiritual
life, which I thought was a great way of expanding the book — and these particular discussion questions
are great, bringing up challenging points for myself, encouraging us to strive to be more and more like the early Christians in faith and everyday life.
In the rush and complication of modern life, as Christians we sometimes need a reminder of what really matters, and this book is a perfect way of doing that.
Back in the days of the early Church, while it certainly wasn’t easy for the early Christians, it was perhaps simpler in many ways, and reading through the lives of these holy men and women is an inspiring reminder of what our true goal and mission is here on Earth — to come to know, love and serve Jesus Christ, and to follow the plan of his Father.
Stories of Early Christianity is thankfully also laid out in a clean, easy-to-read way — many a great
book has been sabotaged by a complicated layout!
Each chapter has footnotes for extra background reading along with informative sidebars for those wanting to brush up on their Bible knowledge.
Anna-Marie Barrett is a student from Christchurch who is pursuing a career in journalism.