The Apostolic Fathers were core Christian theologians among the Church Fathers who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, who are believed to have personally known some of the Twelve Apostles, or to have been significantly influenced by them. [ citation needed ]Their writings, though widely circulated in Early Christianity, were not included in the canon of the New Testament. Many of the writings derive from the same time period and geographical location as other works of early Christian literature which came to be part of the New Testament. Some of the writings found among the Apostolic Fathers appear to have been as highly regarded as some of the writings which became the New Testament.
The label Apostolic Fathers has been applied to these writers only since the 17th century, to indicate that they were thought of as representing the generation that had personal contact with the Twelve Apostles.The earliest known use of the term "Apostolic(al) Fathers" was by William Wake in 1693, when he was chaplain in ordinary to King William and Queen Mary of England. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia , the use of the term Apostolic Fathers can be traced to the title of a 1672 work by Jean-Baptiste Cotelier, SS. Patrum qui temporibus apostolicis floruerunt opera ("Works of the holy fathers who flourished in the apostolic times"), which was abbreviated to Bibliotheca Patrum Apostolicorum (Library of the Apostolic Fathers) by L. J. Ittig in his 1699 edition of the same.
The history of the title for these writers was explained by Joseph Lightfoot, in his 1890 translation of the Apostolic Fathers' works:
...[T]he expression ['Apostolic Fathers'] itself does not occur, so far as I have observed, until comparatively recent times. Its origin, or at least its general currency, should probably be traced to the idea of gathering together the literary remains of those who flourished in the age immediately succeeding the Apostles, and who presumably therefore were their direct personal disciples. This idea first took shape in the edition of Cotelier during the last half of the seventeenth century (A.D. 1672). Indeed such a collection would have been an impossibility a few years earlier. The first half of that century saw in print for the first time the Epistles of Clement (A.D. 1633), and of Barnabas (A.D. 1645), to say nothing of the original Greek of Polycarp's Epistle (A.D. 1633) and the Ignatian Letters in their genuine form (A.D. 1644, 1646). The materials therefore would have been too scanty for such a project at any previous epoch. In his title page however Cotelier does not use the actual expression, though he approximates to it, SS. Patrum qui temporibus Apostolicis floruerunt opera; but the next editor [Thomas] Ittig (1699), adopts as his title Patres Apostolici, and thenceforward it becomes common.
|New Testament apocrypha|
| 1 Clement · 2 Clement |
Epistles of Ignatius
Polycarp to the Philippians
Martyrdom of Polycarp · Didache
Barnabas · Diognetus
The Shepherd of Hermas
|Ebionites · Hebrews · Nazarenes|
|James · Thomas · Syriac · Pseudo-Matthew · History of Joseph the Carpenter|
|Judas · Mary · Philip · Truth · Secret Mark · The Saviour|
|Thomas · Marcion · Nicodemus · Peter · Barnabas|
| Paul |
Pseudo-Methodius · Thomas · Stephen
1 James · 2 James
| Apocryphon of James |
Apocryphon of John
Peter to Philip
Paul and Seneca
| Andrew · Barnabas · John · Mar Mari · The Martyrs |
Peter · Peter and Andrew
Peter and Paul · Peter and the Twelve · Philip
Pilate · Thaddeus · Thomas · Timothy
Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca
| Diatessaron |
Doctrine of Addai
Questions of Bartholomew
Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Prayer of the Apostle Paul
|Bartholomew · Matthias · Cerinthus · Basilides · Mani · Hebrews · Laodiceans|
|Nag Hammadi library|
The following writings are generally grouped together as having been written by the Apostolic Fathers:
All or most of these works were originally written in Greek. Older English translations of these works can be found online in the Ante-Nicene Fathers series on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library website.Published English translations have also been made by various scholars of early Christianity, such as Joseph Lightfoot, Kirsopp Lake, Bart D. Ehrman and Michael W. Holmes. The first English translation of the Apostolic Fathers' works was published in 1693, by William Wake (1657–1737), then rector of Westminster St James, later (1716) Archbishop of Canterbury . It was virtually the only English translation available until the mid-19th century. Since its publication many better manuscripts of the Apostolic Fathers' works have been discovered.
There are several Greek text editions:
Clement of Rome (c. 35-99) was bishop of Rome from 88 to 99 AD. Irenaeus and Tertullian list him as the fourth bishop after Peter, Linus and Anacletus.He was said to have been consecrated by Peter the Apostle, and he is known to have been a leading member of the church in Rome in the late 1st century.
The First Epistle of Clement (c. AD 96) was copied and widely read and is generally considered to be the oldest Christian epistle in existence outside of the New Testament. The letter is extremely lengthy, twice as long as the Epistle to the Hebrews, and it demonstrates the author's familiarity with many books of both the Old Testament and New Testament. The epistle repeatedly refers to the Old Testament as scripture and includes numerous references to the Book of Judith, thereby establishing usage or at least familiarity with Judith in his time. Within the letter, Clement calls on the Christians of Corinth to maintain harmony and order. Tradition identifies the author as Clement, bishop of Rome, and scholarly consensus is overwhelmingly in favor of the letter's authenticity.
The Second Epistle of Clement was traditionally ascribed by some ancient authors to Clement, but it is now generally considered to have been written later, c. AD 140–160, and therefore could not be the work of Clement, who died in AD 99. Doubts about the authorship of the letter had already been expressed in antiquity by Eusebius and Jerome. Whereas 1 Clement was an epistle, 2 Clement appears to be a transcript of an oral homily or sermon, making it the oldest surviving Christian sermon outside of the New Testament.[ citation needed ]
Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus, from the Greek for God-bearer) (c. 35–110) was bishop of Antioch. He may have known the apostle John directly, and his thought is certainly influenced by the tradition associated with this apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of the theology of the earliest Christians. Important topics addressed in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, the role of bishops, and the nature of biblical Sabbath. He clearly identifies the local-church hierarchy composed of bishop, presbyters, and deacons and claims to have spoken in some of the churches through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He is the second after Clement to mention the Pauline epistles.
This section needs additional citations for verification .(June 2016)
Polycarp of Smyrna (c. AD 69 – c. 155) was bishop of Smyrna (now İzmir in Turkey). His student Irenaeus wrote that he "was not only instructed by the apostles, and conversed with many who had seen the Lord, but was also appointed bishop by apostles in Asia and in the church in Smyrna", and that he himself had, as a boy, listened to "the accounts which (Polycarp) gave of his intercourse with John and with the others who had seen the Lord". The options for this John are John the son of Zebedee, traditionally viewed as the author of the Fourth Gospel, or John the Presbyter. Traditional advocates follow Eusebius in insisting that the apostolic connection of Papius was with John the Evangelist, and that this John, the author of the Gospel of John, was the same as the apostle John. Polycarp tried and failed to persuade Anicetus, bishop of Rome, to have the West celebrate Easter on 14 Nisan, as in the East. He rejected the Bishop's suggestion that the East use the Western date. In 155, the Smyrnans demanded Polycarp's execution as a Christian, and he died a martyr. His story has it that the flames built to kill him refused to burn him, and that when he was stabbed to death, so much blood issued from his body that it quenched the flames around him. Polycarp is recognized as a saint in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
Papias of Hierapolis(c. 60 - c. 130) was bishop of Hierapolis (now Pamukkale in Turkey). Irenaeus describes him as "an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp".Eusebius adds that Papias was Bishop of Hierapolis around the time of Ignatius of Antioch. The name Papias (Παπίας) was very common in the region, suggesting that he was probably a native of the area.
Papias's major work was the Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord (Greek: Λογίων Κυριακῶν Ἐξήγησις) in five books; it has been lost and only survives in excerpts from Iraeneus and Eusebius. Other fragments come from the works of Philip of Side and George Hamartolos, but the authenticity of those are dubious.
Quadratus of Athens (died c. 129) was bishop of Athens. Eusebius reports that he was a disciple of the apostles (auditor apostolorum) and that he was appointed as bishop after the martyrdom of his predecessor Publius.
Quadratus's major work is the Apology, which was apparently read to Emperor Hadrian to convince him to improve imperial policy toward Christians. It has been lost and only survives in an excerpt from Eusebius.
The Didache (Greek : Διδαχή,, translit. Didakhé, lit. "Teaching") is a brief early Christian treatise, dated anywhere from as early as AD 50 to the end of the 1st Century. It contains instructions for Christian communities. The text, parts of which may have constituted the first written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian lessons, rituals such as baptism and the Eucharist, and church organization. It was considered by some of the Church Fathers as part of the New Testament, but rejected as spurious (non-canonical) by others. Scholars knew of the Didache through references in other texts, but the text itself had been lost; it was rediscovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia, in the Codex Hierosolymitanus.
The 2nd-century Shepherd of Hermas was popular in the early church, and was even considered scriptural by some of the Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus and Tertullian. It was written in Rome in Koine Greek. The Shepherd had great authority in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The work comprises five visions, 12 mandates, and 10 parables. It relies on allegory and pays special attention to the Church, calling the faithful to repent of the sins that have harmed it.
Ignatius of Antioch, also known as Ignatius Theophorus, was an early Christian writer and Patriarch of Antioch. While en route to Rome, where he met his martyrdom, Ignatius wrote a series of letters. This correspondence now forms a central part of a later collection of works known to be authored by the Apostolic Fathers. He is considered to be one of the three most important of these, together with Clement of Rome and Polycarp. His letters also serve as an example of early Christian theology. Important topics they address include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops.
Pope Linus was the second bishop of Rome. His pontificate lasted from c. AD 67 to his death. As with all the early popes, he was later canonized.
Polycarp was a Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp, he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to consume his body. Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches.
Pope Clement I, also known as Saint Clement of Rome, is listed by Irenaeus and Tertullian as the fourth bishop of Rome, holding office from 88 AD to his death in 99 AD. He is considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church, one of the three chief ones together with Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch.
The Epistle of Barnabas is a Greek epistle written between AD 70 and 132. The complete text is preserved in the 4th-century Codex Sinaiticus, where it appears immediately after the New Testament and before the Shepherd of Hermas. For several centuries it was one of the "antilegomena" writings that some Christians looked on as sacred scripture, while others excluded them. Eusebius of Caesarea classified it as such. It is mentioned in a perhaps third-century list in the sixth-century Codex Claromontanus and in the later Stichometry of Nicephorus appended to the ninth-century Chronography of Nikephoros I of Constantinople. Some early Fathers of the Church ascribed it to the Barnabas who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, but it is now generally attributed to an otherwise unknown early Christian teacher, perhaps of the same name. It is distinct from the Gospel of Barnabas.
The Didache, also known as The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations, is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise written in Koine Greek, dated by modern scholars to the first or second century AD. The first line of this treatise is "The teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the twelve apostles". The text, parts of which constitute the oldest extant written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Christian ethics, rituals such as baptism and Eucharist, and Church organization. The opening chapters describe the virtuous Way of Life and the wicked Way of Death. The Lord's Prayer is included in full. Baptism is by immersion, or by affusion if immersion is not practical. Fasting is ordered for Wednesdays and Fridays. Two primitive Eucharistic prayers are given. Church organization was at an early stage of development. Itinerant apostles and prophets are important, serving as "chief priests" and possibly celebrating the Eucharist. Meanwhile, local bishops and deacons also have authority and seem to be taking the place of the itinerant ministry.
The New Testament apocrypha are a number of writings by early Christians that give accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. Some of these writings have been cited as scripture by early Christians, but since the fifth century a widespread consensus has emerged limiting the New Testament to the 27 books of the modern canon. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant churches generally do not view these New Testament apocrypha as part of the Bible.
The authorship of the Johannine works—the Gospel According to St. John, the three Epistles of John, and the Revelation of St. John the Divine—has been debated by scholars since at least the 2nd century AD. The debate focuses mainly on the identity of the author(s), as well as the date and location of authorship of these writings.
John the Presbyter was an obscure figure of the early Church who is either distinguished from or identified with the Apostle John and/or John of Patmos. He appears in fragments from the church father Papias of Hierapolis as one of the author's sources and is first unequivocally distinguished from the Apostle by Eusebius of Caesarea. He is frequently proposed by some as an alternative author of some or all of the Johannine books in the New Testament.
The Patrologia Graeca is an edited collection of writings by the Christian Church Fathers and various secular writers, in the Greek language. It consists of 161 volumes produced in 1857–1866 by J. P. Migne's Imprimerie Catholique, Paris.
The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians is an epistle attributed to Polycarp, an early bishop of Smyrna, and addressed to the early Christian church in Philippi. It is widely believed to be a composite of material written at two different times, in the first half of the second century. The epistle is described by Irenaeus as follows:
The Augustinian hypothesis is a solution to the synoptic problem, which concerns the origin of the Gospels of the New Testament. The hypothesis holds that Matthew was written first, by Matthew the Evangelist. Mark the Evangelist wrote the Gospel of Mark second and used Matthew and the preaching of Peter as sources. Luke the Evangelist wrote the Gospel of Luke and was aware of the two Gospels that preceded him. Unlike some competing hypotheses, this hypothesis does not rely on, nor does it argue for, the existence of any document that is not explicitly mentioned in historical testimony. Instead, the hypothesis draws primarily upon historical testimony, rather than textual criticism, as the central line of evidence. The foundation of evidence for the hypothesis is the writings of the Church Fathers: historical sources dating back to as early as the first half of the 2nd century, which have been held as authoritative by most Christians for nearly two millennia. Adherents to the Augustinian hypothesis view it as a simple, coherent solution to the synoptic problem.
The First Epistle of Clement is a letter addressed to the Christians in the city of Corinth. Based on internal evidence some scholars say the letter was composed some time before AD 70, but the common time given for the epistle's composition is at the end of the reign of Domitian and AD 140, most likely around 96. It ranks with Didache as one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of extant Christian documents outside the traditional New Testament canon. As the name suggests, a Second Epistle of Clement is known, but this is a later work by a different author. Part of the Apostolic Fathers collection, 1 and 2 Clement are not usually considered to be part of the canonical New Testament.
Against Heresies, sometimes referred to by its Latin title Adversus Haereses, is a work of Christian theology written in Greek about the year 180 by Irenaeus, the bishop of Lugdunum.
Christianity in the ante-Nicene period was the time in Christian history up to the First Council of Nicaea. This article covers the period following the Apostolic Age of the first century, c.100 AD, to Nicaea in 325 AD.
Historiography of early Christianity is the study of historical writings about early Christianity, which is the period before the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Historians have used a variety of sources and methods in exploring and describing Christianity during this time.
The canon of the New Testament is the set of books many modern Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the New Testament of the Christian Bible. For historical Christians, canonization was based on the whether the material was from authors socially approximate to the apostles and not based solely on divine inspiration – however, many modern scholars recognize that the New Testament texts were not written by apostles. For most, it is an agreed-upon list of twenty-seven books that includes the canonical Gospels, Acts, letters attributed to various apostles, and Revelation, though there are many textual variations. The books of the canon of the New Testament were written before 120 AD. In early Christian history, there was much inconsistency among the content of various historical canons, and it was not until hundreds of years later between the third and sixth centuries during which canonical consistency became apparent, possibly influenced by the invention of the codex.
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers who established the intellectual and doctrinal foundations of Christianity. The historical period in which they worked became known as the Patristic Era and spans approximately from the late 1st to mid 8th centuries, flourishing in particular during the 4th and 5th centuries, when Christianity was in the process of establishing itself as the state church of the Roman Empire.
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans is an epistle attributed to Ignatius of Antioch, a second-century bishop of Antioch. It was written during his transport from Antioch to his execution in Rome. To the Romans contains Ignatius’ most detailed explanation of his views on martyrdom.
|volume=has extra text (help)