patristic literature


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patristic literature,

Christian writings of the first few centuries. They are chiefly in Greek and Latin; there is analogous writing in Syriac and in Armenian. The first period of patristic literature (1st–2d cent.) includes the works of St. Clement IClement I, Saint,
or Clement of Rome
, d. A.D. 97?, pope (A.D. 88?–A.D. 97?), martyr; successor of St. Cletus. He may have known the apostles Peter and Paul and was a highly esteemed figure in the church.
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, St. Ignatius of AntiochIgnatius of Antioch, Saint
, d. c.107, bishop of Antioch and Christian martyr, called Theophorus [Gr.,= God-bearer]. He was probably a convert and a disciple of St. John the Evangelist.
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, St. PolycarpPolycarp, Saint
, c.A.D. 70–A.D. 156?, Greek bishop of Smyrna, Father of the Church. He was a disciple of St. John, who appointed him bishop. Thus he linked the apostles and such 2d-century Christian expositors as St. Irenaeus. St. Polycarp was a close friend of St.
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, and PapiasPapias
, fl. A.D. 130, early Christian theologian said to have been bishop of Hieropolis and a friend of St. Polycarp. Papias' five-volume work, Oracles; or, Explanations of the Sayings of the Lord, survives only in fragments quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea and St.
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, the writing known as the Shepherd of Hermas (see Hermas, Shepherd ofHermas, Shepherd of
, Christian apocalyptic work, composed in Rome c.A.D. 139–A.D. 155. It is a collection of revelations given to Hermas, a devout Christian, by an angel (Shepherd) and is divided into three sections: Visions, Mandates, and Similitudes.
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), the DidacheDidache
[Gr.,=teaching], early Christian work written in Greek, called also The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Dates for its composition suggested by scholars have ranged from A.D. 50 to A.D. 150.
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, and the first Christian PseudepigraphaPseudepigrapha
[Gr.,=things falsely ascribed], a collection of early Jewish and some Jewish-Christian writings composed between c.200 B.C. and c.A.D. 200, not found in the Bible or rabbinic writings.
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. The writers of the 3d cent., often called the ante-Nicene Fathers, are principally St. Justin MartyrJustin Martyr, Saint,
c.A.D. 100–c.A.D. 165, Christian apologist, called also Justin the Philosopher. Born in Samaria of pagan parents, he studied philosophy, and after his conversion in Ephesus to Christianity at about the age of 38, he went from place to place trying to
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, Clement of AlexandriaClement of Alexandria
(Titus Flavius Clemens), d. c.215, Greek theologian. Born in Athens, he traveled widely and was converted to Christianity. He studied and taught at the catechetical school in Alexandria until the persecution of 202. Origen was his pupil there.
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, St. IrenaeusIrenaeus, Saint
, c.125–c.202, Greek theologian, bishop of Lyons, and one of the Fathers of the Church. Born in Asia Minor, he was a disciple of St. Polycarp. Irenaeus went to Rome to plead for leniency toward the Montanists (see Montanism) and for those Eastern Christians
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, OrigenOrigen
, 185?–254?, Christian philosopher and scholar. His full name was Origines Adamantius, and he was born in Egypt, probably in Alexandria. When he was quite young, his father was martyred.
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, TertullianTertullian
(Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus) , c.160–c.230, Roman theologian and Christian apologist, b. Carthage. He was the son of a centurion and was well educated, especially in law. Converted to Christianity c.
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, and St. CyprianCyprian, Saint
, 200?–258, Father of the Church, bishop of Carthage (c.248), and perhaps a disciple of Tertullian. Converted in his middle age, he rose quickly to become the most powerful bishop in Africa. His vigorous championing of Pope St.
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. The last two of these are the earliest Fathers to write in Latin. As Christianity established itself, the interest shifted from apologetics to the new theological questions and to sermons and exegesis of Scripture. In the 4th and 5th cent. the number of writers increased greatly. The chief writers in Greek were Eusebius of CaesareaEusebius of Caesarea
or Eusebius Pamphili
, c.263–339?, Greek apologist and church historian, b. Palestine. He was bishop of Caesarea, Palestine (314?–339).
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, St. Gregory NazianzenGregory Nazianzen, Saint
, c.330–390, Cappadocian theologian, Doctor of the Church, one of the Four Fathers of the Greek Church. He is sometimes called Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory Theologus. He studied widely in his youth and was from his student days a friend of St.
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, St. Gregory of NyssaGregory of Nyssa, Saint
, d. 394?, Cappadocian theologian; brother of St. Basil the Great and his successor as champion of orthodoxy. He became bishop of Nyssa in Cappadocia in 371, was removed in 376, and was restored in 378.
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, St. Basil the GreatBasil the Great, Saint
, c.330–379, Greek prelate, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church and one of the Four Fathers of the Greek Church. He was a brother of St. Gregory of Nyssa.
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, St. John ChrysostomJohn Chrysostom, Saint
[Gr.,=golden-mouth], c.347–407, Doctor of the Church, one of the greatest of the Greek Fathers. He was born in Antioch and studied Greek classics there. As a young man he became an anchorite monk (374), a deacon (c.381) and a priest (386).
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, St. Cyril (of Jerusalem), St. CyrilCyril, Saint
(Saint Cyril of Alexandria) , d. A.D. 444, patriarch of Alexandria (412–44), Doctor of the Church, known for his animosity toward heretics and heathens. He drove the Jews from Alexandria, and under his rule Hypatia was killed.
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 (of Alexandria), and St. AthanasiusAthanasius, Saint
, c.297–373, patriarch of Alexandria (328–73), Doctor of the Church, great champion of orthodoxy during the Arian crisis of the 4th cent. (see Arianism).
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. Among the Latin Fathers were St. Hilary of PoitiersHilary of Poitiers, Saint
, c.315–367?, bishop of Poitiers from c.350, Doctor of the Church. A convert from paganism, he distinguished himself as a supporter of Athanasius against Arianism. For his zeal he was exiled (c.356).
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, St. AmbroseAmbrose, Saint
, 340?–397, bishop of Milan, Doctor of the Church, b. Trier, of Christian parents. Educated at Rome, he became (c.372) governor of Liguria and Aemilia—with the capital at Milan.
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, St. AugustineAugustine, Saint
, Lat. Aurelius Augustinus, 354–430, one of the Latin Fathers of the Church and a Doctor of the Church, bishop of Hippo (near present-day Annaba, Algeria), b. Tagaste (c.40 mi/60 km S of Hippo). Life

Augustine's mother, St.
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, St. JeromeJerome, Saint
, c.347–420?, Christian scholar, Father of the Church, Doctor of the Church. He was born in Stridon on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia of Christian parents (although he was not baptized until 366); his Roman name was Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus.
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 (who set a standard for later Latin in the Vulgate), CassianCassian, John
(Johannes Cassianus), 360–435, an Eastern Christian monk and theologian who brought Eastern spirituality to the West. Cassian toured the ascetic monastic settlements of Egypt before he was driven from the East during the controversy over the theology of
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, SalvianSalvian
, fl. 5th cent., Christian writer of Gaul. His Latin name was Salvianus. He was a monk and priest of Lérins (from c.424) and became a renowned preacher and teacher of rhetoric. Of his several works two treatises and nine letters are extant.
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, St. Hilary of ArlesHilary of Arles, Saint
, d. 449, Gallo-Roman churchman. Forsaking riches, he entered the monastery at Lérins. He was made archbishop of Arles (c.429) against his wishes. As head of the church in Gaul, Hilary hastily deposed two bishops.
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, St. Caesarius of Arles, and St. Gregory of ToursGregory of Tours, Saint,
538–94, French historian, bishop of Tours (from 573), b. Clermont-Ferrand, of a prominent family. He had a distinguished and successful career as bishop.
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. The list in the West is closed conventionally with St. Gregory IGregory I, Saint
(Saint Gregory the Great), c.540–604, pope (590–604), a Roman; successor of Pelagius II. A Doctor of the Church, he was distinguished for his spiritual and temporal leadership. His feast is celebrated on Mar. 12.
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, although St. Bernard of Clairvaux is often called the last of the Fathers. The canon of Greek Fathers is closed with St. John of DamascusJohn of Damascus, Saint,
or Saint John Damascene
, c.675–c.749, Syrian theologian, Father of the Church and Doctor of the Church. He was brought up at the court of the caliph in Damascus, where his father was an official, and he was educated by a Sicilian monk.
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. There is a monumental collection of the Fathers (to Innocent III in the West and to the fall of Constantinople in the East) by Jacques Paul MigneMigne, Jacques Paul
, 1800–1875, French publisher of theological works, a Roman Catholic priest (ordained 1824). He set up a printing press in Paris and printed many religious and theological works.
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; the Greek texts are accompanied by Latin translations. There are several collections of the Fathers in English, including new editions recently undertaken, and innumerable individual translations.
References in periodicals archive ?
53) In so doing, his judgment of patristic literature and the ecumenical councils (which I discuss later) was more negative than that of most Anabaptists.
I have already mentioned the Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars whose dedication to the study of the Eastern Fathers has greatly contributed to a renewal of interest in patristic literature in the West.
While my work is not focused on patristic literature, for I study the earliest Christian literary manuscripts--their physical features as well as their textual traditions--and how the practices of copyists shaped the reproduction of early Christian texts, there is much to be learned from Clark's analysis.
Henn then surveys the patristic literature to expose a variety of thought among the Fathers about the importance and meaning of "unity of faith.
18) In contrast, the breve held by Iustitia was modeled on a widely-used definition of Justice that also harks back to Roman legal traditions but was fully integrated into a Christian context in patristic literature and as such frequently cited throughout the Middle Ages.
23) This survey of Hubmaier's use of patristic literature provides a foundation for ascertaining his general attitude toward the fathers and his appraisal of their worth.
Subsequent essays produce a mass of specific, useful information on Greek and Latin patristic literature (Skarsaune), on church orders and liturgical texts (Anders Ekenberg), and on rabbinic literature (Philip Alexander).
Looking into the social makeup of Christian congregations has developed a much more interesting set of questions than had been raised consistently through previous paradigms about either the New Testament or early patristic literature.
d) Scholarly research: Both were responsible for important advances in the fields of patristic literature, Armenian art and the history of the Armenian church and nation.
I warmed to her statements, in passing, about the need for more geographically focussed study (women in particular city settings, for example, though this was not the approach to be taken) and for increased crossing of `self-imposed subject boundaries' where study of the New Testament and of early Patristic literature are concerned.
The mirror metaphor recurs frequently in patristic literature, as Bradley has shown.
While striving for balance among the centuries, there is detectable a strong emphasis on patristic literature and some understandable partiality to German theologians.