The Church Fathers or Fathers the the Church are the early and influential theologians and writers in the Christian Church, an especially those of the very first five centuries. The ax is used for the pundit leaders the the Church, not necessarily saints, and does not incorporate the brand-new Testament authors. It likewise excludes authors condemned together heretics, although several of the Church Fathers, such as Tertullian and also Origen, did periodically express heterodox views.

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Catholic and also Orthodox traditions regarding the Fathers the the Church differ, with better honor paid in the West to such males as Pope Gregory the great and St. Augustine, and more attention given in the east to such authors as Basil the great and john Chrysostom. In addition, Orthodox tradition considers the age of the Church Fathers to it is in open-ended, proceeding up come the present day, when Catholic legacy ends the period much earlier.

Protestant thought emphasizes the rule of "scripture only" as a basis because that Christian doctrine, but in truth relied heavenly top top the legacy of the Church Fathers in the early on stages of the Reformation. Later Protestant believed has challenged this by seeking to make a distinction between the tradition of the Church Fathers and also the teachings of earliest Christian areas led by Jesus and the Apostles. Some have actually pointed out that the heart of the trouble of the tradition of the Church Fathers is its authoritarian theory of hierarchical church. Also so, one can uncover that the Church Fathers created a monument come God-centered thinking during the first several centuries, and that their believed is regularly truly inspiring and worthy of serious study.

Apostolic Fathers

The faster Church Fathers, those the the very first two generations after ~ the <


Ignatius of Antioch, illustrated with lions as result of the technique of his martyrdom.

Clement that Rome

Main article: Clement of Rome

The epistle known as 1 Clement (c. 96) is attributed come this early bishop the Rome. It was widely review in the churches and is taken into consideration the faster Christian epistle outside the brand-new Testament. Tradition identifies Clement together the fourth pope.

Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius that Antioch (c. 35-110) to be the 3rd bishop that Antioch and also a student of the Apostle John. En course to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius composed a series of letters to assorted churches, and these have actually been maintained as an example of the theology the the more quickly Christians. Vital topics handle in these letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the central role the bishops in authorized orthodox teaching.


Polycarp (c. 69-c. 156) to be the bishop of Smyrna (now İzmir in Turkey). In 155, the Smyrnans inquiry Polycarp"s execution together a Christian, and he died a martyr. He to be also crucial figure in the debate over the date on which believer celebrate Easter.


Purporting to it is in the work of much more than one author, the Didache, an interpretation "Teaching," is a short early Christian treatise, traditionally ascribed to the Twelve Apostles. However, the is date by most scholars to the early 2nd century.<1> It offers instructions come Christian communities and also contains passages considered to it is in the first written catechism, and also sections managing rituals such as baptism, eucharist, and church organization.


The Shepherd that Hermas was a well-known second-century work thought about scripture by several of the Church Fathers, such as Irenaeus and also Tertullian. It was composed at Rome through the presbyter Hermas, sometimes established as a brothers of Pope Pius I. The job-related comprises a variety of apocalyptic visions, mandates, and parables, phone call the church come repent the its sins and prepare for the imminent coming of Christ.

Other Apostolic Fathers

Several various other writings are likewise included amongst the Apostolic Fathers: For example the anti-Jewish letter well-known as the Epistle of Barnabas, i beg your pardon was frequently appended come the new Testament; and fragments the the works of Papias. The Epistle the Mathetes and also the discourse the Quadratus of Athens—usually contained in collections of the Apostolic Fathers—are usually counted amongst the apologists rather than the Church Fathers.

Greek Fathers

Those who wrote in Greek are called the Greek (Church) Fathers. Famed Greek Fathers incorporate Irenaeus that Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius the Alexandria, john Chrysostom, and the three Cappadocian Fathers. Others, however, are also studied.

Clement that Alexandria

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-211/216), was a distinguished teacher in the city which ended up being one of early on Christianity"s most essential intellectual centers. He united Greek philosophical traditions with Christian doctrine and also thus emerged what later became known as Christian Platonism.


Origen (c. 185 - c. 254) likewise taught in Alexandria, reviving the catechetical college where Clement had taught. He understood scripture allegorically and further developed the legacy of Christian Platonism. Origen teach a doctrine of universal salvation in which even demons would at some point be rejoined with God. Although few of his views were asserted anathema in the sixth century by the fifth Ecumenical Council,<2> Origen"s assumed exercised significant influence.


Irenaeus that Lyons

Irenaeus of Lyons

Main article: Irenaeus

Irenaeus, (d. Close to the finish of the 3rd century) to be bishop that Lugdunum in Gaul, i m sorry is currently Lyons, France. A disciple the Polycarp, his best-known book, versus Heresies (c. 180), enumerated heresies and attacked them. Irenaeus composed that the only means for s to retain unity to be to humbly expropriate one doctrinal government of orthodox bishops, with conflicts resolved by episcopal councils. His occupational is a major source for understanding the heterodox activities of the second century and the orthodox churches" perspective in combating them.


St. Athanasius, illustrated with a book, one iconographic symbol of the prominence of his writings.

Athanasius the Alexandria

Main article: Athanasius that Alexandria

Athanasius (c. 293-May 2, 373), likewise known together St. Athanasius the Great, was a theologian who later ended up being the patriarch ("pope") the Alexandria, a leader of immense significance in the theological battles of the fourth century. He is best remembered because that his role in the problem with Arianism, return his influence covers a large array the theological topics.

Cappadocian Fathers

The Cappadocians were three physical brothers who were important in the promo of Christian theology and are highly respected in both Western and Eastern churches together saints: Basil the Great, Gregory the Nyssa, and also Peter of Sebaste. These scholars, in addition to their close friend, Gregory the Nazianzus, proved that Christians could hold their very own in conversations v learned Greek-speaking intellectuals. Castle made major contributions come the definition of the Trinity, finishing at the an initial Council that Constantinople in 381, where the last version of the Nicene Creed was formulated.

John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom (c. 347-c. 407), archbishop that Constantinople, is known for his eloquence in preaching and also public speaking, his denunciation the the abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and also political leaders, the Liturgy that St. Man Chrysostom, his ascetic sensibilities, his violent opposition to paganism, and also his sermons denouncing Judaism. The is an especially honored in the eastern Orthodox Church.

Latin Fathers

Those fathers who wrote in Latin are dubbed the Latin (Church) Fathers. Renowned Latin Fathers include Tertullian, Cyprian that Carthage, Gregory the Great, Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose the Milan, and also Jerome.



Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (c. 160-c. 225) to be a prolific writer the apologetic, theological, anti-heretical, and also ascetic works. He is believed to have actually introduced the Latin hatchet "trinitas" (Trinity) to the Christian vocabulary and also the formula "three persons, one substance"—tres personae, una substantia. Later on in life, Tertullian join the Montanists, a heretical sect, but his works by and big are thought about as a shining instance of orthodoxy.


Cyprian (died September 14, 258) was bishop the Carthage and vital early Christian writer who eventually died a martyr in ~ Carthage. He is specifically important in specifying the Christian church together "Catholic," an interpretation "universal," and his insistence that there deserve to be no salvation external of the Christian church.


Ambrose (c. 338-April 4, 397) was the bishop of Milan who ended up being one that the most significant ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He supported the civil liberties of the church in relation to the imperial state and is count as one of the four original medical professionals of the Church. He was additionally the teacher that Saint Augustine.



Jerome (c. 347-September 30, 420) is best known together the translator of the bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. That was additionally a noted Christian apologist and also a resource of numerous historical facts concerning Christian history. Jerome"s version of the Bible, the Vulgate, is still critical text of the roman Catholic Church.


Augustine (November 13, 354-August 28, 430), the bishop the Hippo, to be both a philosopher and also theologian, and an influential church leader in north Africa. The framed the principle of initial sin and also related teachings on divine grace, cost-free will, and predestination, and also the theory of the just war. His works remain amongst the most prominent in Christian history.

Gregory the Great

Pope Gregory i (c. 540-March 12, 604) reigned as bishop that Rome indigenous September 3, 590, till his death. He was the very first of the popes from a monastic background and did much to solidify the management of the roman inn church. Back he to be active relatively late, he is taken into consideration one the the four great Latin Fathers together with Ambrose, Augustine, and also Jerome.

Other Fathers

The Desert Fathers were beforehand monastics life in the Egyptian desert; back they walk not compose as much, their influence was additionally great. Amongst them room Anthony the good and Pachomius. A good number of your usually brief sayings are built up in the Apophthegmata Patrum ("Sayings that the Desert Fathers").

The Christian apologists are sometimes designated together the Apologetic Fathers. They composed to justify and also defend Christian doctrine versus its critics rather than as Christians speak to various other Christians. Amongst the best known that these room Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras that Athens, and Hermias.

A small number of Church Fathers created in various other languages: Saint Ephrem, because that example, composed in Syriac, return his functions were widely interpreted into Latin and Greek.

Later Church Fathers

Although over there is no definite rule on the subject, the research of the "early" Church normally ends at the council of Chalcedon in 451. Yet a variety of later writers are additionally often included amongst the "The Fathers." among these, Gregory the good (d. 604) in the West and also John of Damascus (d. Around 754) in the East. West tradition likewise sometimes counts Isidore of Seville (d. 636) and the Venerable Bede (d. 735) amongst the Fathers.

The east Orthodox Church does not consider the period of Church Fathers to be over and also includes later influential writers, even up come the present day. The research of the Church Fathers in the East as such is a significantly more comprehensive one than in the West.

The Church Fathers and Protestantism

Although much Protestant religious thought is based on the principle of Sola Scriptura (scripture only), the beforehand Protestant reversal relied heavily on the theological views set forth by the at an early stage Church Fathers. The initial Lutheran Augsburg Confession of 1531, because that example, begins with the mention of the theory professed by the Fathers the the first Council that Nicea. Man Calvin"s French Confession of belief of 1559 states, "And we confess that which has been developed by the old councils, and also we detest every sects and heresies which to be rejected through the divine doctors, such together St. Hilary, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose and also St. Cyril."<3> The scot Confession of 1560 faces general councils in its twentieth chapter.

Likewise, the Thirty-nine articles of the Church the England, both the original of 1562-1571 and the American variation of 1801, explicitly accept the Nicene Creed in write-up 7. Also when a details Protestant confessional formula go not mention the Nicene council or its creed, this doctrine is nearly always asserted.

Only in the nineteenth century did protestant theologians begin seriously daunting the ideas of the at an early stage Church Fathers by making use of the historical-critical method of biblical analysis to effort to different the teachings of Jesus self from those of the later church tradition. Writers such as Albrecht Ritschl and Adolf Harnack were amongst the prominent pioneers of this movement.


The study of the Church Fathers is recognized as "Patristics." functions of the Church Fathers in at an early stage Christianity before Nicene Christianity were analyzed into English in a nineteenth century collection recognized as Ante-Nicene Fathers.<4> Those that the duration of the very first Council that Nicea (325 C.E.) and continuing v the 2nd Council the Nicea (787) are gathered in Nicene and also Post-Nicene Fathers.<5> Patristics is a major topic of examine in east Orthodox tradition, together it contains not just the old Fathers, but also an ext recent breakthroughs in Orthodox theology and also church history up until the present day.


The works of the Church Fathers stand for some that the most far-ranging intellectual work ever created. Castle also administer important records concerning the background of at an early stage Christianity and its development in the roman inn Empire. The teachings that the Church Fathers have actually deeply influenced the stays of billions of world throughout the world.

At the exact same time, while numerous of the Church Fathers" writings make fascinating and also inspirational reading, they additionally portray bitter arguments with plenty of believers who have actually held views reputed to be unorthodox, leading to excommunications enacted versus them. These divisions within Christianity and also the suppression that heterodoxy in ~ the instigation of countless of the Church Fathers are considered by movie critics as a sad function of Christian history. According to recent "house church" proponents such as Beresford Job, this problem resulted indigenous the authoritarian theory of hierarchical church occurred by the Church Fathers contrary to the heart of the brand-new Testament.<6>

It is true that the prestige of love in the church was lot stressed through Church Fathers such together Augustine, yet it appears that they to be also very busy in trying to come up through dogmatically and also ecclesiastically definitive points in the doctrine of the Trinity, Christology, and other theological subjects. Several of the Church Fathers were likewise strongly antisemitic, top the church to treat the Jews badly. This might be the factor why contemporary Protestantism has developed a tendency to look beyond the heritage of the Church Fathers to uncover the really teachings, if any, of Jesus and also the new Testament. Nevertheless, that is interesting that the perform of the Church Fathers consists of Origen and Tertullian, who periodically expressed heterodox views. So, the theological tradition of the Church Fathers is maybe not together rigid and inflexible as one thinks.

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Given every this, one can still find that the Church Fathers produced a monument to God-centered thinking throughout the an initial several centuries. Their thought is frequently truly inspiring and also worthy of severe study.