|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
The first chapter explores Irenaeus' background in Asia Minor, as a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna, his activity in Gaul, and his involvement with the Christian communities in Rome. The theological and institutional significance of his interventions is made clear by tracing the coalescence of the initially fractionated communities in Rome into a united body over the first two centuries.
The second chapter provides a full examination of Irenaeus' surviving writings, concentrating especially on the literary and rhetorical structure of his five books Against the Heresies, his 'refutation and overthrowal' of his opponents in the first two books, and his establishing a framework for articulating orthodoxy.
The final chapter explores the theological vision of Irenaeus itself, on its own terms rather than the categories of later dogmatic theology, grounded in an apostolic reading of Scripture and presenting a vibrant and vigorous account of the diachronic and synchronic economy or plan of God, seen through the work of Christ which reveals how the Hands of God have been at work from the beginning, fashioning the creature, made from mud and animated with a breath of life, into his own image and likeness, vivified by the Holy Spirit, to become a 'living human being, the glory of God'.