Top critical review
The Spiritual Life of Early Christianity
Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2019
Spirituality seems to be in vogue these days. These lives of early Christian monastic figures do a good job of showing the essentials of the Christian spiritual life as it has been lived through the millennia. Whether there is any validity to the Christian narrative of world history, it is indisputable that Christian spirituality has resolved the disquiet of soul felt by many men and women.
Essentially, there is the idea that the human person is good but needs prayer, asceticism and good works to reform the soul into a perfect Christian. Those early Christians who were most affected by the need for spiritual growth tended to become monks or nuns.
Thus, we have the biographies of St. Anthony, St. Martin of Tours and St. Benedict along with some others lesser known personages. The miracle stories will grate with many modern readers but, beneath them, the pith of the Christian ladder leading to heaven pervades these sketches.
Not comparable in literary talent to the ancient biographers like Plutarch or Diogenes Laertius this volume is mostly of interest to those with an interest in the history of Christianity and western civilization. If these pique your interest Penguin has done a good job of assembling compelling lives of early Christian monasticism.