Book Review – Irenaeus of Lyon by Simonetta Carr

Book Review – Irenaeus of Lyon by Simonetta Carr

Irenaeus of Lyon is the latest treasure written by Simonetta Carr and illustrated by Matt Abraxas. It is a biography of the early patristic Irenaeus. The book is written for young children and is written in such a way that engages the sense of wonder that so many children need to experience when reading history. I appreciate Carr’s writing style and can’t help but wonder if I would have come to appreciate church history earlier in life if I would have had the opportunity to read this book as a child. The illustrations are spectacular and capture the essence of Irenaeus just as well as the text.

Irenaeus of Lyons has been my favorite church father since studying patristics in college many years ago. He was a clear thinker, but also a man who was deeply committed to the spiritual health of his congregation and had a deep abiding love for truth. Both of these characteristics have influenced me in very profound ways and I have looked to his example over and over again in my own life.

Simonetta Carr has written a book that will be treasured for years to come. It’s a book that children can read on their own as a part of a homeschool history curriculum, or that parents could delight in reading to their children. The artistry and beauty of the illustrations make this a book that demands a special place in your bookshelves with which can be easily seen when surveying a book collection. This is one that you will want to keep for a very long time.

Where to Purchase

Amazon | Reformation Heritage Books

About the Author

Ireneaus of LyonsSimonetta Carr was born in Italy and has lived and worked in different cultures. A former elementary school teacher, she home-schooled her eight children for many years. She has written for newspapers and magazines around the world and has translated the works of several Christian authors into Italian. Presently, she lives in San Diego with her husband, Thomas, and family. She is a member and Sunday school teacher at Christ United Reformed Church, Santee, California.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Heritage Books in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


8 thoughts on “Book Review – Irenaeus of Lyon by Simonetta Carr

  1. Kelly Kloss

    I just came across your site last week and was hoping it was still active. I love how you often recommend a book for homeschooling. I’m not really familiar with Simonetta Carr but have seen the books when searching biographies. They totally stand out from the rest because the covers are so beautiful! I haven’t bought one yet because I just haven’t been able to get my hands on one to view the content. Do you think a 12 year old boy would read this? I know each kid is different but I mean in general.

    • I think it’s perfectly suitable for a 12 year and old.

  2. Matthew L.

    Hey Aaron glad you’re posting again. What age would you recommend for this book? Does she deal with his more Catholic ideas?

    • Hello Matthew. I think that will differ with every child but I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to my 9 or 11 year olds. There may be a few concepts that you might want to help explain but they would enjoy the story and get the basic flavor of his life. I would probably read it to my 6 year old and younger and add some explanatory commentary.

      As far as Catholic teachings, I don’t really see too many in Irenaeus. The two RC doctrines that I can think of that are usually attributed to him in some manner are apostolic succession and less frequently the idea of Mary as co-redeemer of the world. The book doesn’t touch on the Marian doctrine at all but I will just add that Irenaeus did not teach the doctrine. He was very concerned with sticking to scripture as the source of doctrine and truth. He did however argue that Christ received her human nature from Mary and this is used by Catholic theologians as evidence of her playing a redeeming role by birthing the savior. You won’t find that taught in scripture or in Irenaeus’ writings. His assumption that Mary received her human nature from Mary is reasonable since she would be his only human ancestor but since scripture is silent it remains a mystery.

      The other doctrine… apostolic succession is only vaguely alluded to in the book but not as the doctrine of succession. What Carr does address however is exactly what Irenaeus was arguing in the quotes taken by the RC church to support apostolic succession. That is, he argued against the idea that we can have a special knowledge of God apart from scripture. The Valentinians (aka Gnostics) had created a loose body of beliefs that their tradition established and these beliefs were supposedly revealed to them apart from scripture. That is to say that they believed they had a secret knowledge of truth that were not handed down from the apostles in scripture, but through a sort of tradition maintained by the verbal passing on of these secret doctrines. Irenaeus responded by saying that the faithful and true words of Christ were handed down from the apostles and written down in scripture for our benefit so that we must get know what is true. Irenaeus was in effect arguing for the sufficiency of scripture in establishing doctrine because it had been handed down by the apostles. Carr and rightfully alludes to this on page 8 but without all the unnecessary info I just included since children won’t really be bothered to know all that at their age. These statements by Irenaeus about the church having had their doctrines handed down through the apostles is the seed of the RC doctrine of apostolic succession. Irenaeus did not personally argue for a succession of Bishops as the doctrine has come to state, but simply that we know that the teachings of scripture are true because they can be traced back to the apostles.

      Hopefully I answered your questions. If not, let me know.

  3. Matthew L.

    Thanks Aaron. This helps a lot. I’m not very familiar with the apostolic fathers but my catholic sister is always trying to get me to read them like it’s going to make me ditch my Bible in favor of some dead guy’s opinion. My son is 11. I want him to learn church history because I never did but don’t want him getting all cultish on me as a result.

  4. I got the last Simonnetta Carr book you reviewed on Luther and my kiddos LOVE IT!!!

  5. Jen Andreason

    I get excited when I see homeschool mamas writing books! I’m broke so I won’t but it yet but I’m super excited about Her! That’s all lol!

    • I’m with you there Jen!

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