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  • Writer's pictureThe Other Paul

My First Book Project

For a few months now, I have been toiling away at my first ever book project (the first of many to come, God-willing). I had beforehand jumped to and fro between multiple book project ideas, before I finally settled on one that I believed to be both realistic for me to accomplish in the near future as well as relevant to many fellow Christians. I have already told a small number of people about this, but I figured it was time to make the news public, as I have now discerned a likely launch window. What follows are the basic details I'm willing to make public:

Q1: What is the book about?

It will be my own introductory text for how to read the early Church fathers, with succinct yet densely packed instruction on every step of the process, including issues of first principles like the function of language, logic, and historical method, progressing to practical steps on how to search for patristic sources, properly read them, and draw conclusions from them, all the way to evaluating others' claims about what those early fathers believed. I intend this to be a truly all-in-one starter back for historical study of the early fathers.

Q2: What will the title be?

I won't be revealing the title until the release is around the corner, since it is - to be completely honest - an absolute banger, and I'd rather keep people in suspense for now (and avoid the unlikely yet feasible event of someone stealing it before publication). I can reveal the subtitle, at least as it stands now: An Anglican's Guide to Reading the Church Fathers. This is subject to change.

Q3: How long will the book be?

Given current progress vs what remains to be finished, I am certain that it will exceed 200 pages, and possible reach 300; but that remains to be seen.

Q4: Who is the book intended for?

It is first and foremost intended for lay Christians in the Reformation/post-Reformation traditions who wish to begin studying the early Church fathers and learn how to do so in a safe and principled way, especially if one is being confronted with the historical claims of Rome and the East. As such, there will be light polemics sprinkled in the text against non-Reformation traditions, though only occasionally and purely for the sake of illustrating current points under discussion. Even so, though they are not this book's immediate intention, it will also be useful for the historical studies of non-Reformational Christians.

Q5: What sets this book apart from others of the same subject?

A number of other book-length introductions to patrology exist for laymen {I}. The unique selling points of my book are as follows:

I: It is written explicitly from the perspective of the Anglican tradition, and therefore makes frequent appeals to classical Anglican theologians (and sometimes to authors of other Reformation traditions too). There are many unexploited gems in the Anglican tradition pertaining to the early fathers, and so I hope my book brings them some exposure.

II: It is almost entirely focused on the methodology of finding, interpreting, drawing from, discussing, and debating the writings of the fathers, as opposed to being an introduction to particular fathers, their texts, historical context, and so on. Virtually all other patristics introductions focus on piecemeal summaries of early church writings and provide at most a few pages on methodology for reading and interpreting them, while this book is wholly focused on the principles and practice of reading and research.

III: Whereas all other intro to patristics texts (as far as I know) are at least intended to be neutral and purely for the sake of historical study, this book is explicitly written in the context of inter-traditional debate over the teachings of the fathers. This isn't to say sober historical study is not the primary goal; it certainly is, but the context of inter-traditional debates and the distortions proliferated throughout such are given due recognition. For example, the authority of the early fathers on the formation of our faith is a central area of controversy between the Reformation and Ecclesialist traditions, and as such multiple chapters in the book are devoted to that issue.

Q6: When will the book be released?

My most absolutely optimistic release window is this coming Easter, however it will more likely be a touch later than that, possibly around late April to May.

Q7: Who will the publisher be?

This will be self-published, as I don't want to be beholden to third-party publisher editors' demands, among other reasons (though I am consulting multiple other well-learned men on the book's contents, so there is effective peer review alongside the self-publishing). This book will inaugurate my own publishing company from which I will publish books by myself and other Anglicans. My publishing label, like the book title, is also a banger, and so I will be keeping tight lipped about that until launch is approaching.

Q8: How much will the book cost?

This is an unknown at the moment, and will depend on the quotes I receive from Lulu on paperback and hardback editions. However, I also intend to do something uncommon as a matter of principle and eventually release the whole text digitally for free around two or so months after the release of a physical edition. I will be writing a fuller piece on the site explaining my motivations for releasing a free version (TL;DR I want good teaching to be widely available, and intellectual property is not real).

That's all for now; stay tuned for more in the coming months if this book project is of interest to you.

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I - A select few examples include: Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Bryan Litfin, 2016, 2nd ed.); Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church (Michael Haykin, 2011); The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction (Hubertus R. Drobner, translated by Siegfried S. Schatzmann, 2007); The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers (Mike Aquilina, 2013, 3rd ed.).

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