No early Christian writer has deserved better of the whole Church than Irenaeus. His refutation of Gnosticism is perhaps te last of his claims upon the attention of the student. Gnosticism would doubtless have met its fate if Irenaeus had never written, and for the modern reader its grotesque speculations have little interest. But the great work of Irenaeus offers us far more than the polemic of a by-gone age. It is a first effort to grapple on a large scale with the problems of the rising faith, and to construct the outlines of a Christian theology. It is a storehouse of materials for the early history of the canon, the creed, and the episcopate. It contains not a few passages of singula r beauty and far-reaching insight, which are hardly surpassed in other Christian writing, ancient or modern.
Dr. Montgomery Hitchcock's book is an attempt to introduce the student to the teaching of Irenaeus. Any real endeavour to recall our age to the treasures hidden in the great writers of the ancient Church may be heartily welcomed, and it is to hope that Dr Hitchcock's work may succeed in leading some who have hitherho overlooked the claims of Irenaeus to study for themselves that great forerunner of the best theology of the later Church.
Cambridge, Easter 1914