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Guide to The Early Church History Documents

Guide to The Early Church History Documents

Guide to The Early Church History Documents

Guide to Early Church Documents

This hypertext document contains pointers to Internet-accessible files relating to the early church, including canonical documents, creeds, the writings of the Apostolic Fathers and other historical texts relevant to church history.The latest version of this document is located at: https://christian.net/pub/resources/christian-history.html. Additional resources or corrections should be directed to the document maintainers at njb@iclnet.org. Include CHISTORY as the subject.

Contents

1. New Testament Canonical Information

2. The Apostolic Fathers

  • 1st Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians [ca 96]: A formal letter written on behalf of the Roman Christian community urging Christians who had been rebelling against church authority to be submissive and obedient. Tradition attributes it to Clement, allegedly one of the first bishops of Rome.
  • 2nd Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians [ca 150]: Sermon thought not to be the writing of Clement himself. Advocates sound view of Christ, the resurrection, and holiness unto God. Enter into battle against the ways of this world, work out salvation through strength in Christ.
  • The Epistle of Barnabas [ca 130]: This letter, probably not authored by the NT Barnabas, repudiates the claims of Jewish Christians at the time who advocated adhering to observance of the Mosiac Law. Argued that Christ provided salvation and man is no longer bound by the Law. Compares holy life to unrighteousness.
  • Didache (Teaching of the Lord through the Apostles): Eleventh century MS discovered by Philotheus Bryennios. The Didache consists of various parts, starting with the “Two Ways” ethical instruction (see Barn 18-21) and including community rules for liturgical practices and leadership conduct, before ending with a short apocalyptic section. While some of the material might go back before the year 100, the current form of the document is probably mid-second century at earliest.
  • The Shepherd of Hermas [ca. 150]: Written by Hermas, who is believed to be brother of Pius, the Bishop of Rome. The Shepherd of Hermas is an apocalyptic document (in the sense that it claims to be revealed), modelled after the Book of Revelation. It deals with practical matters of church purity and discipline in second century Rome.
  • The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians [ca 130?]: Polycarp was a church leader (bishop) in Smyrna, Asia Minor. Exhorted the Philippians to holy living, good works, steadfast faith. Interested in ministry and practical aspects of daily life of Christians.
  • The Martyrdom of Polycarp: The earliest preserved Christian martyrology, probably from the latter part of the second century (not too long after the event). Records the tradition of the trial and execution (burned at the stake) of Polycarp.
  • The Writings of Ignatius: Bishop of Antioch in Syria [ca 1-2 century] martyred in Rome by beasts (ca 105-116). On his way to Rome, he visits and then writes to various churches, warning and exhorting them. He also writes ahead to Rome, and writes to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. Warned the church against heresies that threatened peace and unity, opposed Gnosticism and Docetism. In the Epistle to Smyrna, insisted Christ came in the flesh not just in spirit.

3. Patristic Texts

4. Creeds And Canons

5. Later Text

  • The Summa Theologica [1265/1266-1273] (translated by Fathers of the English Dominican): Aquinas’ classical exposition of the theology of the Roman Catholic Church. Aquinas is known for his development of a systematic theology based on reason and faith.
  • (Gregory of Nyssa) [ca 330-395] One of the Cappadocian Fathers. Deposed by Arian bishops in 376 because he supported the Nicene faith, but he regained his position win 378. His style was devotional and he tended toward spiritualizing.

6. Related Documents

 

    • Chronology Files from Paul Harvey

7. Miscellaneous Documents

 

8. Relevant Internet Sites

  • The Church Fathers page, Wesley Center for Applied Theology, Northwest Nazarene College.
  • The Christian History Institute provides an ample archive of Church History documents for all periods of history in its Glimpses archive. Particularly germaine are two sections on Early Church History that include: Foundations of Our Faith, Whatever Happened to the Twelve Apostles?, The Spread of the Early Church, Accusation, The Canon, and biographical information on Polycarp, Constantine, Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Blandina, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Jerome.

 

This document copyright © 1994-1999 by John Brubaker and Gary Bogart. Reproduction and/or distribution for non-commercial purposes is permissible providing that the guide is left fully intact. Please do not modify this document in any way without prior written consent. Send additions or corrections to the compilers at the address noted in the introduction. The authors wish to express their thanks to Professor James O’Donnell at the University of Pennsylvania for graciously proofreading the original edition of this document, and for offering invaluable information by his critique.

Revised dc/18-Feb.-2016

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