About This Book
This is a handbook designed to help you learn about the role of the Church Fathers, the world in which they lived, who they were, and what they taught on various subjects. It is divided into two main parts. Part One provides background on the Fathers, and Part Two provides excerpts from their writings, arranged by topic.
Because it is a handbook, you do not have to read it from beginning to end. If you wish, you can go directly to those subjects that most interest you, then refer to other sections for more information. For example, you might turn immediately to the “Infant Baptism” chapter in Part Two, see what the Fathers had to say about it, and then turn to the “Know Your Fathers” chapter in Part One to read the brief biographies of the Fathers who were quoted on infant baptism. Next, you might want to see where they lived and turn to “The World of the Fathers,” which offers maps showing their locations.
Whatever path you choose to take through this book, it will offer a wealth of information.
Part Two is based on a series of columns that originally appeared in This Rock magazine, published by Catholic Answers. Other employees of Catholic Answers oversaw the column before my time, but for twelve years—from the June 1993 issue to the column’s end in the December 2005 issue—I compiled and edited it by collecting quotations from the early Church Fathers on a variety of topics and writing introductions to them.
Like this book, the column was called “The Fathers Know Best”—a whimsical title based on Father Knows Best, the radio and television comedy starring Robert Young.
“The Fathers Know Best” was popular, and a series of tracts were produced based on it. The new book format allows a richer and more comprehensive look at the Fathers and their world, as well as the addition of more background material in Part One.