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Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation: A Sourcebook of the Ancient Church
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Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation: A Sourcebook of the Ancient Church


Baker Academic 2006

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation introduces the reader to primary sources from the first through sixth centuries with an emphasis on lesser-known, yet nonetheless important, texts.

The selections are grouped thematically and cover various crucial topics, including the rule of faith, baptismal formulations and instruction, creeds, and biblical interpretation. Within each theme, the writings are arranged chronologically, revealing how the Christian tradition on that topic developed over time. Explanatory notes provide historical background and theological context for each reading. Williams introduces the book with a chapter examining the close interplay between Scripture and tradition in the thinking of the early church. This rich resource will be especially useful to students of the early church.

This volume from the Evangelical Ressourcement series is perfect if you’re a student, scholar, pastor, or layperson interested in the most pressing contemporary topics relating to early church history, theology, and spirituality. Scripture passages link directly to your English translations and original language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say about the impact of the early church’s writings, culture, and thought.

Please note that this volume will only contain the explanatory notes.

Key Features

  • Presents historical insight on contemporary challenges facing today’s church
  • Examines tradition in the early church
  • Analyzes the formation of the New Testament canon
  • Studies the early church’s primary sources and influence


  • Introduction: Patristic Background of Scripture and Tradition
  • Origins of Christian Tradition
  • The Interplay of Scripture and Tradition
  • The Rule of Faith
  • Baptismal Formulas and Instruction
  • Local and Conciliar Creeds
  • Interpreting the Bible
  • Allegorical and Spiritual Interpretation
  • Theological Poetry and Hymns
  • Formation of Scripture as Canon

Praise for the Print Edition

Williams . . . provide[s] helpful comments and historical notes with most excerpts, as well as a clearly written, contextual introduction. General readers motivated to digest the many broad-ranging . . . selections will be rewarded with insights into early Christian thinking on literal vs. allegorical interpretation of Scripture, the development of local and conciliar creeds, and the slow, distributed development of the Bible as canon. Recommended . . . for Williams’ cogent introduction and the anthology’s fit into a relatively unpopulated niche in the literature.

Library Journal

[A] helpful volume for understanding the importance of the early Christian church. . . . Williams provides a sampling of early Christian sources in an easily accessible format so that one interested in early church history and Christian origins can read and understand the primary documents. . . . Williams argues convincingly that the canon of the Bible and its interpretation came from the early church. . . . This volume certainly accomplishes the goal of the Evangelical Ressourcement series, which is to help church thinkers and leaders reconsider the ancient understandings of Christian belief and practice. It would be of value in introductory church history classes.

Review of Biblical Literature

The anthology affords the reader the opportunity to encounter the most crucial texts in established resources. . . . The passages Williams assembles in the chapters on the interpretation of the Bible are especially fascinating. . . . Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation would serve well as an introductory college textbook.

Trinity Journal

[The] Evangelical Ressourcement series seeks to show that the early church’s import for Protestants is not less ‘integral’ than ‘it is for Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy.’ With D.H. Williams’ volume Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation the series succeeds admirably. The book is a companion source-volume for Williams’ previous book, Evangelicals and Tradition, but is plenty readable on its own.

Books & Culture

Williams’ work is recommended for both the student and the church leader. The comments following the selections are especially helpful for the novice and Williams includes a brief bibliography at the end of the work to facilitate further study of the early fathers. The book serves as a good introduction to the primary source texts on the topic and the brevity of the work is refreshing since the beginner can easily become overwhelmed at the amount of primary texts available from the period of the early church.

Southwestern Journal of Theology

[Williams] is widely respected for his numerous book-length studies and journal articles on the fathers and their achievements. . . . The present work consists in selected extracts from the most significant writers of the period, together with numerous creedal statements. The texts are arranged according to nine themes or subjects and are prefaced by Williams’ own most illuminating Introduction. The book was conceived as a companion volume to the author’s Evangelicals and Tradition. . . . But the Introduction and the brief commentaries throughout make it a more than worthwhile book in its own right. . . . Its great advantage . . . is the focus which it gives to its chosen themes: Scripture, tradition, and their vital interplay in the minds of the church’s foundational theologians.

Journal of Reformed Theology

Product Details

About D.H. Williams

D.H. Williams is professor of religion in patristics and historical theology at Baylor University. He is the author of Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism and the editor of The Free Church and the Early Church.