Early Christian Fathers


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After his death or according to some sources, during his life he was given the Greek epithet chrysostomos , meaning "golden mouthed", rendered in English as Chrysostom. Chrysostom is known within Christianity chiefly as a preacher and theologian, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church; he is the patron saint of orators in the Roman Catholic Church. Chrysostom is also noted for eight of his sermons that played a considerable part in the history of Christian antisemitism , diatribes against Judaizers composed while a presbyter in Antioch, which were extensively cited by the Nazis in their ideological campaign against the Jews.

Cyril of Alexandria c. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the late 4th and early 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the First Council of Ephesus in , which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Archbishop of Constantinople. Cyril's reputation within the Christian world has resulted in his titles "Pillar of Faith" and "Seal of all the Fathers". In his early life, he was a civil servant and an aide to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius.

However, he gave up this life in the political sphere to enter into the monastic life. After moving to Carthage , Maximus studied several Neo-Platonist writers and became a prominent author. When one of his friends began espousing the Christological position known as Monothelitism , Maximus was drawn into the controversy, in which he supported the Chalcedonian position that Jesus had both a human and a divine will.


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Maximus is venerated in both Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity. His Christological positions eventually resulted in his torture and exile, soon after which he died. However, his theology was vindicated by the Third Council of Constantinople , and he was venerated as a saint soon after his death. His feast day is celebrated twice during the year: His title of Confessor means that he suffered for the faith, but not to the point of death, and thus is distinguished from a martyr.

His Life of the Virgin is thought to be the earliest complete biography of Mary, the mother of Jesus. John of Damascus c. Born and raised in Damascus , he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem. A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, before being ordained, he served as a chief administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus, wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still in use in Eastern Christian monasteries.

The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption because of his writings on the Assumption of Mary. Those fathers who wrote in Latin are called the Latin Church Fathers. Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus c. Tertullian denounced Christian doctrines he considered heretical, but later in life adopted Montanism , regarded as heretical by the mainstream Church, which prevented his canonization.

He wrote three books in Greek and was the first great writer of Latin Christianity, thus sometimes known as the "Father of the Latin Church". In his Apologeticus , he was the first Latin author who qualified Christianity as the vera religio , and systematically relegated the classical Roman Empire religion and other accepted cults to the position of mere "superstitions".

Later in life, Tertullian joined the Montanists, a heretical sect that appealed to his rigorism. He wrote that human beings are like little fish. He was born in North Africa , probably at the beginning of the 3rd century, perhaps at Carthage, where he received an excellent classical pagan education. After converting to Christianity, he became a bishop and eventually died a martyr at Carthage. He emphasized the necessity of the unity of Christians with their bishops, and also the authority of the Roman See, which he claimed was the source of "priestly unity"'.

Hilary of Poitiers c. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" Latin: His optional memorial in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is 13 January. In the past, when this date was occupied by the Octave Day of the Epiphany, his feast day was moved to 14 January. Ambrose [26] was an archbishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century.

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He is counted as one of the four original doctors of the Church. He offered a new perspective on the theory of atonement. Pope Damasus I — was active in defending the Catholic Church against the threat of schisms. In two Roman synods and he condemned the heresies of Apollinarianism and Macedonianism, and sent legates papal representatives to the First Council of Constantinople that was convoked in to address these heresies. He also wrote in defense of the Roman See's authority, and inaugurated use of Latin in the Mass , instead of the Koine Greek that was still being used throughout the Church in the west in the liturgy.

He also was a Christian apologist. Jerome's edition of the Bible, the Vulgate , is still an important text of Catholicism. Augustine — , Bishop of Hippo, was a philosopher and theologian. Augustine, a Latin Father and Doctor of the Church, is one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. In his early life, Augustine read widely in Greco-Roman rhetoric and philosophy, including the works of Platonists such as Plotinus. When Rome fell and the faith of many Christians was shaken, Augustine wrote The City of God , in which he defended Christianity from pagan critics and developed the concept of the Church as a spiritual City of God , distinct from the material City of Man.

Augustine was born in present-day Algeria to a Christian mother, Monica of Hippo. He was educated in North Africa and resisted his mother's pleas to become Christian. He took a concubine and became a Manichean. He later converted to Christianity, became a bishop, and opposed heresies, such as Pelagianism. His many works—including The Confessions , which is often called the first Western autobiography —have been read continuously since his lifetime.

Augustine is also the patron saint of many institutions and a number have been named after him. Gregory I the Great c. He was the first of the popes from a monastic background. Of all popes, Gregory I had the most influence on the early medieval church. Isidore of Seville c. Indeed, all the later medieval history-writing of Hispania the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugal was based on his histories. At a time of disintegration of classical culture and aristocratic violence and illiteracy, he was involved in the conversion of the royal Visigothic Arians to Catholicism, both assisting his brother Leander of Seville and continuing after his brother's death.

He was influential in the inner circle of Sisebut, Visigothic king of Hispania. Like Leander, he played a prominent role in the Councils of Toledo and Seville. The Visigothic legislation which resulted from these councils is regarded by modern historians as exercising an important influence on the beginnings of representative government. A few Church Fathers wrote in Syriac ; many of their works were also widely translated into Latin and Greek.

He was born in Persia around , but all his known works, the Demonstrations , come from later on in his life. He was an ascetic and celibate , and was almost definitely a son of the covenant an early Syriac form of communal monasticism. He may have been a bishop , and later Syriac tradition places him at the head of Mar Matti monastery near Mosul , in what is now northern Iraq. He was a near contemporary to the slightly younger Ephrem the Syrian , but the latter lived within the sphere of the Roman Empire. Called the Persian Sage Syriac: Ephrem the Syrian ca. He has been declared a Doctor of the Church in Roman Catholicism.

He is especially beloved in the Syriac Orthodox Church. Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems , and sermons in verse, as well as prose biblical exegesis. These were works of practical theology for the edification of the church in troubled times. So popular were his works, that, for centuries after his death, Christian authors wrote hundreds of pseudepigraphal works in his name. He has been called the most significant of all of the fathers of the Syriac-speaking church tradition. Isaac of Antioch — , one of the stars of Syriac literature , is the reputed author of a large number of metrical homilies The fullest list, by Gustav Bickell , contains which are extant in MSS , many of which are distinguished by an originality and acumen rare among Syriac writers.

Isaac of Nineveh was a 7th-century Assyrian bishop and theologian best remembered for his written work. He is also regarded as a saint in the Church of the East , the Catholic Church , the Eastern Orthodox Church and among the Oriental Orthodox Churches, making him the last saint chronologically to be recognised by every apostolic Church. His feast day falls on January Isaac is remembered for his spiritual homilies on the inner life, which have a human breadth and theological depth that transcends the Nestorian Christianity of the Church to which he belonged.

They survive in Syriac manuscripts and in Greek and Arabic translations. The Desert Fathers were early monastics living in the Egyptian desert; although they did not write as much, their influence was also great. Among them are Anthony the Great and Pachomius. Many of their, usually short, sayings are collected in the Apophthegmata Patrum "Sayings of the Desert Fathers".

In the Roman Catholic Church, John of Damascus , who lived in the 8th century, is generally considered to be a Doctor of the Church and at the same time the first seed of the next period of church writers, scholasticism. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not consider the age of Church Fathers to be over and includes later influential writers up to the present day.

Early Church Fathers

The Orthodox view is that men do not have to agree on every detail, much less be infallible, to be considered Church Fathers. Rather, Orthodox doctrine is determined by the consensus of the Holy Fathers—those points on which they do agree. This consensus guides the church in questions of dogma , the correct interpretation of scripture , and to distinguish the authentic sacred tradition of the Church from false teachings.

The original Lutheran Augsburg Confession of , for example, and the later Formula of Concord of —, each begin with the mention of the doctrine professed by the Fathers of the First Council of Nicea. Though much Protestant religious thought is based on sola scriptura the principle that the Bible itself is the ultimate authority in doctrinal matters , [ citation needed ] the first Protestant reformers, like the Catholic and Orthodox churches, used the theological interpretations of scripture set forth by the early Church Fathers. John Calvin 's French Confession of Faith of states, "And we confess that which has been established by the ancient councils, and we detest all sects and heresies which were rejected by the holy doctors, such as St.

The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England , both the original of and the American version of , explicitly accept the Nicene Creed in article 7. Even when a particular Protestant confessional formula does not mention the Nicene Council or its creed, its doctrine is nonetheless always asserted, as, for example, in the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Historia de la Iglesia cristiana. About the Author Cyril C. Touchstone; Reprint edition December 1, Language: Related Video Shorts 0 Upload your video. The New Catholic Illustrated Bible.

Christianity at the Crossroads: The Lost World of the Flood: Mythology, Theology, and the Deluge Debate. Whose Bible Is It?: A Short History of the Scriptures. Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention church writings historical christians introduction text clement richardson polycarp introductions documents century understanding helpful ignatius faith letters theology christianity kindle. There was a problem filtering reviews right now.

Please try again later. This is not a book for a casual reader; rather it is a compendium of the earliest documents written by the early Christians, other than the New Testament. This is an important resource for anyone interested in the development of the world's largest religion. There are very few original sources for the first two centuries of Christianity, other than those bequeathed to us by the early Christians themselves.

Church Fathers

The Romans uncharacteristically failed to analyze and record the history of the new faith slowly spreading through their Empire, a faith which would ultimately transform and replace the traditional structures upon which the Empire rested. The Introduction is a masterpiece and succeeds in orienting the reader to the problems and issues that create difficulties in understanding the historical evolution of the early Church.

Clement's first letter is a powerful document that is one of our earliest and most reliable sources outside of the NT, while the letter of Ignatius gives a clue to powerful emotions that this strange new faith could inspire. Two pieces by Polycarp, who was martyred round CE under Emperor Trajan, illuminate the Anatolian congregations as they had developed under the influence of John, who had such a prominent impact on the new religion.

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They also give us insight into the "heresies" or different interpretations of the nature and meaning of Jesus' mission that flourished at this time. This aspect of the book is also fortified by the inclusion of material by Irenaeus, that dedicated hunter of heresy.

Steve Ray: The Church Fathers

An excellent cross-section of the available sources regarding the rise of the Church in the early days of the Roman Empire. I originally purchased this for a college course. As usual, I expected it to be only informative. This was much more. This book is a compilation of classical works written by the early Christian fathers.

Each work is given a preface that is exciting for people interested in translation, date of authorship, historical background, etc. The real meat is the works written by the different authors. The writings date from late first century through the late second century. I highly recommend this read for both personal enrichment and historical enlightenment.

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This is a well-known classic containing descriptions, historical context and text of many of the writings of the patristics during the first three centuries of the Church's history. The enhanced Kindle version is relatively convenient to use, and it is easy to refer back to the notes and return to the text. My one quibble is that, while most Biblical references provide the Bible text when clicked on, apparently the Christian Classics Ethereal Library uses the Protestant Bible, rather than the Catholic Bible. As a result, the references to Old Testament books not in the Protestant Bible do not appear when clicked on.

This is a shame and this version would be so much more useful if all of the references would display. Primarily for that reason, I suggest for this, and many other non-fiction reference-type books, a hard copy is better than the Kindle version. Who could rightly be called an 'Early Church Father'? Keep in mind that a 'Father of the Church' is not an ecclesiastically conferred distinction for which the Eastern Orthodox or the Roman Catholics have an undisputed list, as is the case of its teachers 'Doctor of the Church. Their qualification would seem to fit the apostles, along with early Christians of the New Testament like Timothy, who is never referred to as Early Church Father.

On the other hand, there are some of those regarded as "Fathers of the Church," whose generally orthodox teaching was marred by some doctrinal controversy e. Origen , or whose lives were far from being exemplary e. The Writings of those early Christian writers produced in the first and second centuries, were referred to as the Apostolic Fathers. The authors of these writings were considered to be the next generation of Apostles and as a result were named The Apostolic Fathers.

Perceived by many scholars to be the most important collection of post-New Testament writings, a number of these texts were in fact considered for the Canon of the New Testament but dropped later. A good example was Dydimus the blind, eminent dean of Alexandrine Didascalia, reverence for 'The Shepherd of Hermas' considering as one of the most inspired of all writings, and it is included in the Sinaiticus Codex. This is one of the best books on the "Early Church Fathers" of the second century, essential for understanding the thought and exegetical writings of the Church Fathers, who lived and wrote during the founding time of the early church.

This first volume of The Library of Christian Classics, long acclaimed for its quality translations, contains most of the basic Christian writings of the first two centuries of the Christian Church, with the exception of the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Shepherd of Hermas. These patristic guides are very helpful, providing introductions, explanatory notes, and indices. The series ensures that modern English translations of some of the most significant Christian works are available for scholars and students, allowing searching readers to better understand the early Christian church.

Describing this representative work as introductory overlooks the fact that, for the reader to appreciate the writings, he should have a knowledge of Early Church History, as narrated by H. Chadwick, or even some exposure to the Fathers thought in Historical Theology, as exposed by J. Those novice readers who want to read selections from the fathers writings, in order to determine the turning points in Church doctrine are thus advised to explore H.

Bettenson's The early Christian fathers Clement of Rome to Athanasius since the latter was the first of the fathers who dramatically influenced Christian thought beyond Nicea. I own five books on the Church Fathers and their writing and this is easily one of the best. Richardson, to my knowledge, is a Protestant but there is no scholarly disagreement to the means in which he portrays the included Fathers. The historical setting, quick biography, and major themes are discusses in detail but also i brevity.

Early Christian Fathers Early Christian Fathers
Early Christian Fathers Early Christian Fathers
Early Christian Fathers Early Christian Fathers
Early Christian Fathers Early Christian Fathers
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