Fathers of the Church

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Related to Church Fathers: Apostolic Fathers

Fathers of the Church,

collective name for the Christian writers of early times whose work is considered generally orthodox. A convenient definition includes all such writers up to and including 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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 (St. Gregory the Great) in the West and 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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 in the East (see patristic literaturepatristic 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 I, St.
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). There are several conventional groupings of the Fathers of the Church. One of these is the Apostolic Fathers, usually considered to include the authors of the Didache, of the Epistles of Clement, of the Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch, and of the Shepherd of Hermas. In an ancient category of honor eight Doctors of the Church are set apart; the Four Doctors of the Greek Church are St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Athanasius; the Four Doctors of the Latin Church are St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory the Great. Since the 16th cent., the title Doctor of the Church has also been given by the Roman Catholic Church to later doctrinal writers, including St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventura, St. Anselm, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. Catherine of Siena.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fathers of the Church


the traditional designation of the most prominent leaders of the Christian church from the second through eighth centuries; they formulated its dogmas and its organization.

In Roman Catholicism the principal church fathers were Ambrose of Milan, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory I the Great. In the Orthodox Church they were Athanasius of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, and John Damascene. The church regards as fathers only those whom it has canonized as saints and whose teachings are acknowledged to be orthodox. Accordingly, such prominent early Christian thinkers as Origen and Tertullian are not included among the fathers of the church.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This chapter is divided into a series of subchapters: Through His Incarnation, the Son of God reveals to us the true value of man; The Cross--the key to the mystery of Christ's love; God loves each of us equally: The multiple revelation of Christ's love for us; God's ultimate goal is man's benefit; The multitude of man's sins does not preponderate God's love for him; Love for God and love for one's neighbour; The Spiritual life is a life of partaking in love, in God; The Church Fathers on the Soteriological significance of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's descent into hell; Christ the Saviour's descent into hell.
Some of Maximos s most philosophical works were written in reply to questions he received about the writings of earlier Church Fathers. His 'Ambigua' were written over a number of years in response to these questions and provide explanations of somewhat unclear wording in the writings of St Gregory the Theologian.
The church fathers treated such topics as the vocabulary of deification or the place of theosis in divine economy with slight differences; the book exposes these details.
Less is made in the volume about the connection of the fathers to humanism, though one of the most interesting contributions deals with this theme, Mark Vessey's "'Vera et Aeterna Monumenta': Jerome's Catalogue of Christian Writers and the Premises of Erasmian Humanism." Vessey seeks to demonstrate that Erasmus's Christian humanism was more Christian, and indebted more directly to his reading of the church fathers, in particular Jerome, than recent work by Lisa Jardine and Istvan Bejczy suggests.
To this end the author collects evidence to uncover Greco-Roman and Jewish attitudes towards sex and marriage in the early centuries of our era and examines documents of the early church fathers pertaining to virginity, marriage, and sexual activity.
I do not recall too many instances where the apostles, the early church fathers and subsequent great Christian thinkers and believers hesitated to make their positions clear, although not necessarily consistent.
The Vatican made no secret of how the Church fathers expected the faithful to vote.
Along with frequent detours to questions of evidence, Varghese's first section, which he calls "Montage," skillfully summarizes early Christian doctrine and devotion to Mary, including quotations from Church fathers and the typological traditions of Mary as a New Eve and the Ark of the Covenant.
Business ethics grew out of attempts to reconcile Biblical precepts, canon law, civil law, the teachings of the Church Fathers, and the writings of early philosophers with the realities of expanding economic activity.
For the ancient Church Fathers, the sixth day of creation and the Day of Pentecost were deeply connected.
Yet the distinction between the two media is an artificial one, and the resulting selection in KV an arbitrary slice of the earliest textual evidence for the Church Fathers. Our earliest witnesses of many texts and authors are in fact parchment fragments, while there exist many other parchment fragments contemporary with their papyrus counterparts.
Nicholls, now a Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia, is encyclopedic in his reach, traversing first-century Judaism and the emergence of Christianity through the early church Fathers. He considers medieval and modern manifestations of Antisemitism, secular and religious, and wrestles with contemporary manifestations of both Antisemitism and anti-Zionism.