What writings would you recommend that are not in the canonized Bible? It seems like there are a lot of good commentaries on the scriptures from our 1st and 2nd century brothers, e.g. "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.'' -- Larry Head
I would recommend anything written from the late 00s till the early 300s. Even after that time it is useful to study the documents to see how church history developed in novel directions. I would encourage any Christian who has been following the Lord for a few years and who has read the Bible completely a few times to explore the world of the Patristic literature.
Of course, we must read the Bible first and foremost. But, by all means, become acquainted with the "early Christian writings." But with these caveats:
1. None of them is inspired.
2. The farther away you go from the source (Jesus Christ), the more human inventions, corruptions, and accretions you will find.
3. Do not attempt to understand these documents without a knowledge of what is going on at the time in church and secular history. So much of the discussions are reactions and overreactions, unintelligible (really) without a feel for context.
4. Even the earliest documents (1 Clement, the letters of Ignatius, etc) are still several generations after Jesus and a good generation or more after the apostles left the scene.
5. Focus on the Bible itself. The word of man will never be on a level with the word of God!
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