St. Irenaeus Criticism - Essay

J. Rendel Harris (essay date 1907)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Irenaeus on the Apostolical Preaching,” in Expositor, Vol. 3, 1907, pp. 246-58.

[In the essay that follows, Harris analyzes Irenaeus's On the Apostolic Teaching and observes that the treatise is in many ways conventional, marred by historical inaccuracies, and unexpectedly focused on spiritual enlightenment.]

We have now before us the text of the newly-found treatise of Irenaeus On the Apostolical Preaching, which forms the first part of the thirty-first volume of Harnack's Texte und Untersuchungen. More exactly we should have put, instead of Harnack, the joint names of Harnack and Schmidt, and that collocation would have at once...

(The entire section is 4052 words.)

Gustaf Wingren (essay date 1947)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Creation,” in Man and the Incarnation: A Study in the Biblical Theology of Irenaeus, translated by Ross Mackenzie, Muhlenberg Press, 1947, pp. 3-38.

[In the following essay, Wingren studies the significance of God's absolute power as Creator and of the relationship between Christ and man in Irenaeus's theology.]


Our best starting-point for a full understanding of the concept of God in Irenaeus is the sovereignty of God—the absolute power of the Creator. The Gnostics' pessimism in regard to the world forced them into assuming a God who had nothing to do with the world, and they kept large parts of reality separate...

(The entire section is 16205 words.)

John Lawson (essay date 1948)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “On the Exegesis of the Bible,” in The Biblical Theology of Saint Irenaeus, The Epworth Press, 1948, pp. 55-86.

[In the following essay, Lawson contends that in Irenaeus's writings on both the Old and the New Testament, exegesis is subjective and allegorical. Superscript numbers next to biblical references throughout this essay refer to verse numbers.]

The manner in which S. Irenaeus expounded the Bible and the justice he did to it are studies of the most far-reaching consequence for the understanding of a Christian Father who was so largely a Biblical theologian. It is unfortunate, therefore, that this aspect of his work has been so commonly...

(The entire section is 12013 words.)

Joseph P. Smith (essay date 1952)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to St. Irenaeus: Proof of the Apostolic Teaching, translated by Joseph P. Smith, The Newman Press, 1952, pp. 3–44.

[In the essay below, Smith examines the history, form, style, and structure of Irenaeus's Proof of the Apostolic Preaching. Smith states that Irenaeus's motivation for writing the treatise was to prove that what the apostles preached was true, and that his intention was not to provide an exposition on apostolic preaching.]



St. Irenaeus (end of second century) comes in the history of patrology after the...

(The entire section is 19650 words.)

H. B. Timothy (essay date 1973)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Irenaeus of Lyons,” in The Early Christian Apologists and Greek Philosophy, Van Gorcum & Comp., B.V., 1973, pp. 23-39.

[In the essay below, Timothy examines the content and structure of Irenaeus's Adversus haereses,demonstrating Irenaeus's skill in refuting the arguments of the Gnostics.]

In the manner of a surgeon performing a major operation, though not quite so methodically, Irenaeus, in the first book of the Adversus haereses, begins to lay bare the nerves and sinews and so take us to the very heart of the Gnostic heresy which he knew from all too close acquaintance with it in the valley of the Rhone and had, it seems probable,...

(The entire section is 6609 words.)

Dominic J. Unger (essay date 1992)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to St. Irenaeus of Lyons: Against the Heresies, Paulist Press, 1992, Vol. I, pp. 1-18.

[In the following essay, Unger provides an overview of Irenaeus's Adversus haereses and argues that with the composition of this treatise, Irenaeus earned the right to be called the founder of Christian theology.]

1. An earlier volume in this series presented a translation of the Proof of the Apostolic Preaching,1 one of the two works of Irenaeus which have survived in their entirety. With this volume the series begins publication of Irenaeus's principal work, his Exposé and Overthrow of What Is Falsely Called Knowledge. It is...

(The entire section is 11566 words.)

Terrance L. Tiessen (essay date 1993)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Conclusion,” in Irenaeus on the Salvation of the Unevangelized, ATLA Monograph Series, No. 31, The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1993, pp. 250-82.

[In the essay below, Tiessen investigates Irenaeus's doctrine of divine revelation as it pertains to the “non-Christian” and compares this doctrine with the modern notion of “anonymous Christianity.”]

It is possible now to draw together the results of the investigation that has been made of the salvation of the unevangelized, in the theology of Irenaeus. The question of the state of the non-Christian, particularly of the individual who has not had opportunity to learn of God as revealed in Christ, is of great...

(The entire section is 9560 words.)