IVP Academics was kind enough to allow me an advanced copy of the book Early Christian Thinkers: The lives and Legacies of Twelve Key Figures. I was not required to write a positive review--only a fair one.
Normally, I have found church history books that focus on the individual lives of different Christian thinkers to be rather hit-or-miss. However, I believe that IVP Academic has really published an outstanding set of essays that outline several major thinkers.
Early Christian Thinkers is really a set of individual essays, written by different authors, that were previously published. As with any compilation some essays are better than others. Nevertheless, the majority are quite good. The chapter devoted to Tertullian by Everett Ferguson and Tatian by Paul Foster stand out as particularly noteworthy within this collection. Also, it was nice to see Perpetua included as her legacy, as one of the only women by whom we have anything written, is quite important. Some weaker chapters include the chapter devoted to Gregory Thaumaturgos, which seemed disjointed and muddled. However, as a whole the compilation is excellent.
In conclusion, Early Christian Thinkers is an academically rigorous book that seeks to accomplish much and largely succeeds. While some who are looking for just a general introduction might be better served looking elsewhere, anyone who is serious in engaging in the recent debates surrounding various textual issues with the Early Fathers is well served starting here. Overall, this book should become standard reading in any early church history class.