Why should we care what the writers of those first three centuries say?
I don’t think that what the early church in the first few centuries said and did is the final norm for Christians today. Our decisive norm is biblical revelation. Nevertheless, I think we need to take seriously what the Christians in the first three centuries thought Jesus was saying. They were much closer to him in time than we are, and there is reason to think they would have had a pretty good understanding of what he meant. Therefore, given that every single Christian text we have on killing from the first three centuries, whether war, capital punishment, or abortion, says that Christians don’t do that, and with some frequency they say that’s because of what Jesus said and did, I think Christians today ought to listen to them with some seriousness.
The Christian Century’s “Take & Read” recommendations for New Testament books included Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World, by Warren Carter, A Peaceable Hope, by David Neville, and the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, edited by Marion Ann Taylor and Agnes Choi.