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BI 3325

BI 3325. SURVEY OF CHURCH HISTORY. Fathers in God. Apostolic Fathers (2 nd century) Ante-Nicene Fathers (2 nd & 3 rd centuries) Nicene Fathers (4 th century) Post-Nicene Fathers (5 th century). Fathers. Apostolic or Post-Apostolic Fathers (c. 95-150) Apologists (c. 140-200)

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BI 3325

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  2. Fathers in God • Apostolic Fathers (2nd century) • Ante-Nicene Fathers (2nd & 3rd centuries) • Nicene Fathers (4th century) • Post-Nicene Fathers (5th century)

  3. Fathers • Apostolic or Post-Apostolic Fathers (c. 95-150) • Apologists (c. 140-200) • Polemicists (c. 180-225 • Scientific Theologians (c. 225-460)

  4. Fathers • Apostolic Fathers—sought to build up or strengthen believers in the faith • Apologists—defended against attacks on Christianity • Polemicists—attacked heresy within the church • Scientific Theologians—scientific study of theology, applying philosophical modes of thought to theology

  5. The Apostolic FathersPurpose: to exhort and edify the church • Writers or Writings • Clement Papias • Shepherd of Hermas Barnabas • Ignatius Didache • Polycarp

  6. Clement • At time the apostle John was writing Revelation on Isle of Patmos, Clement was a leader in the church at Rome. • Assumed responsibility for answering an appeal from church at Corinth for advice on how to restore harmony. • Sent a letter (c. 95-96) urging demonstrating the Christian graces and obedience to the elders and deacons (some were rebelling).

  7. Clement • Made frequent reference to both OT and NT Scripture, esp. to Paul’s epistles. • Because this is the earliest extrabiblical Christian writing, it has attained a place of prominence among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. • Toward the end of the 2nd c. it attainted almost canonical status in some churches.

  8. Second Clement • This work probably written ca. the same time as the Shepherd of Hermas (i.e., not likely written by Clement of Rome). • Not an epistle but a homily (sermon), probably given in Corinth or Rome—the oldest complete Christian sermon known. • Emphasizes virtuous living, mercy to others, need for repentance, and the Christian life as warfare.

  9. The Shepherd of Hermas • Ca. 50 years later another Roman, Hermas, wrote a work known as the Shepherd of Hermas. • The work appears to be a composite work written in stages between c. 90 & 150. • Hermas a slave (possibly Jewish) freed by his mistress Rhoda in Rome. • Later he married and became wealthy.

  10. The Shepherd of Hermas • During a persecution he lost his property and was denounced by his own children. • Later he & his family did penance. • The work consists of 5 Visions, 12 Mandates, and 10 Similitudes, all of which purport to be revelations. • Revelator in Visions 1-4 was a woman representing the church, & in Vision 5 thru Similitude 10 was the angel of repentance in the guise of a shepherd (hence the name).

  11. The Shepherd of Hermas • The Visions focus especially on the last days and refer to the imminence of the great tribulation several times. • The Mandates and Similitudes provide teaching on Christian behavior and principles respectively and served as a textbook for catechetical instruction in the 2nd & 3rd centuries. • It made a claim to inspiration.

  12. The Shepherd of Hermas • Central theme concerns the possibility of a second repentance for sins. • Repentance and forgiveness of sins associated with baptism. • Apparently some at this time were postponing baptism in order to take care of as many sins as possible; what was to be done with postbaptismal sin (in their view) was problematic.

  13. The Shepherd of Hermas • SofH presents the possibility of a second repentance & forgiveness of sins committed after baptism. • The writing presents an early form of a dogma of penance and a penitential system.

  14. Ignatius • Bishop of Antioch of Syria; the most famous of the Apostolic Fathers. • C. 110 was arrested by Roman authorities for his Christian profession and sent to Rome for judgment and expected martyrdom in the arena. • Along the way he wrote letters to various churches; the letters were designed to promote unity in the churches addressed.

  15. Ignatius • Unity was to be accomplished by: • Rooting out heresies that denied the full divine-human personality of Christ. • By subjection to a local bishop. • Thus Ignatius gave impetus to the power of bishops, but only over local congregations. • Also he did not elevate the position of the bishop of Rome over that of other bishops.

  16. Ignatius • Does seem to be the first to speak of a Catholic (universal) church. • Is no evidence that his view on the ruling bishop was a commonly held view in the church at this time. • He held that the church could not baptize, celebrate the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper), or perform a marriage without the bishop. • Actually, there was no church without the bishop, according to him.

  17. Polycarp • In Asia Minor (modern Turkey) two Apostolic Fathers were active: Polycarp and Papias. • Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir), is interesting to moderns because he was believed to be a disciple of the apostle John. • Of several of his writings, only his letter to the Philippians remains.

  18. Polycarp • He emphasized in the letter faith in Christ and the necessary outworking of that faith in daily life. • Unlike Ignatius, he does not write about church organization and discipline. • In the letter he quoted from 13 NT books and knew of a collection of Paul’s letters. • Was martyred in Smyrna (c. 155-156). • He claimed to have served Christ 86 years.

  19. Polycarp • A staunch defender of orthodoxy, he devoted much of his energy to combating heretics. • The Martyrdom of Polycarp, written by his church within a year after his death, is the first Christian account of martyrdom.

  20. Papias • Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, wrote c. 125. • His Interpretations of the Saying (Oracles) of the Lord has been lost, but parts survive in the writings of Irenaeus & Eusebius. • The fragments deal with the life and teachings of Christ & attempt to preserve information obtained from those who had known Christ.

  21. Papias • Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, wrote c. 125. • His Interpretations of the Saying (Oracles) of the Lord has been lost, but parts survive in the writings of Irenaeus & Eusebius. • The fragments deal with the life and teachings of Christ & attempt to preserve information obtained from those who had known Christ.

  22. Papias • These are especially interesting for their historical reference, such as the statement that Mark got the information for his gospel from Peter. • His comments on the apostolic age cannot be quickly dismissed because he too was a “hearer of John” the apostle. • He wrote one of the earliest statements on a literal material millennium when the earth will be miraculously fruitful.

  23. Barnabas • Works assigned to the period of the Apostolic Fathers also originated in North Africa. • Barnabas is generally considered to have been written in Alexandria—probably by 130. • Like much of the other literature of Alexandria, this epistle is quite allegorical in nature, engaging in gross typology and numerology.

  24. Barnabas • The basic problem of the epistle concerns the necessity of a Christian’s keeping the law of Moses. • It holds that such was not necessary—the work of Christ was sufficient. • It becomes so anti-Jewish as almost to deny a historical connection between Judaism and Christianity.

  25. Didache • The Didache, or Teachings of the Twelve (Apostles), is also believed to have originated in Alexandria (though some think it came from Syria), probably during the 1st half of the 2nd century. • A church manual, divided into 4 parts, it treats Christian ethics (chaps. 1-6), liturgical matters (baptism, fasting, the Eucharist, chaps. 7-10), the ministry and church government (chaps. 11-15), and the Second Coming and end of the world (chap. 16).

  26. Didache • Baptism is to be performed by immersion if possible, otherwise by threefold affusion. • Believers should live a life of preparedness in view of the return of Christ.

  27. The ApologistsPurpose: to defend the faith Leaders: Justin Martyr Tatian Tertullian

  28. The Apologists • The purpose of the Apologists was entirely different from that of the Apostolic Fathers. • Apologists sought to win legal recognition for Christianity and to defend it against various charges leveled by the pagan populace. • In constructing this defense, they wrote in a more philosophical vein than the Apostolic Fathers.

  29. The Apologists • A generation of Christians from a higher social class and with more extensive education had arisen. • As they wrote their defenses they had at hand two literary forms already in use in the Roman world: the legal speech (apologia) delivered before judicial authorities and later published, and the literary dialogue.

  30. The Apologists • In seeking to win a favorable position for Christianity, the Apologists tried on the one hand to demonstrate the superiority of the Hebrew-Christian tradition over paganism, and on the other to defend Christianity against a variety of charges. • They viewed this superiority as both temporal and spiritual.

  31. The Apologists • To support a temporal or chronological superiority, Justin Martyr claimed that Moses wrote the Pentateuch long before the Trojan War (c. 1250 B.C.), thus antedating Greek history, to say nothing of Roman history. • He and other Apologists made much of fulfillment of prophecy in an attempt to show that Christianity was not something new, but merely a continuation or culmination of the ancient Hebrew faith.

  32. The Apologists • As to the spiritual superiority of Christianity over paganism, the Apologists claimed that noble pagans had obtained their high ideals from God or Moses. • Among the charges against which Apologists defended Christianity were atheism, cannibalism, immorality, and antisocial action. • The first charge (atheism) arose because Christians refused to worship the emperor or the Greco-Roman gods.

  33. The Apologists • The charge of cannibalism arose from a misunderstanding of the Lord’s Supper. • The charge of immorality was a result of assemblies conducted in secret or after dark and because Christians displayed great love for each other. • The antisocial charge related to Christians finding it necessary to retire from much of public life because most aspects of public life were in some way connected with worship of the gods.

  34. The Apologists • E.g., one who held public office had to participate in and even lead the populace in sacrifices to the ruler or the goddess Roma, the personification of the state. • Normally those who attended an athletic festival or a drama found themselves acquiescing in a sacrifice to a god before the event began.

  35. The Apologists • In an effort to win recognition for their faith, the Apologists generally took a philosophical approach. • Was natural they should do so, because on the one hand they were trying to reason out the case for Christianity with their opponents, and because on the other hand they often wrote to men who were themselves greatly interested in philosophy, e.g., Marcus Aurelius a Stoic philosopher.

  36. The Apologists • Because of the philosophical orientation, the Apologists have been accused of undue surrender to the world view of heathenism. • For e.g., their teachings about Jesus Christ appear in the form of the Logos doctrine. • To philosophers the Logos was an impersonal controlling and developing principle of the universe.

  37. The Apologists • But John used Logos to describe Christ, without any sacrifice of His deity or the value of His atoning work. • On most points the Apologists seem to have upheld the NT concept of Jesus Christ, though Justin Martyr, for instance, sometimes described Christ as being of inferior rank to the Father.

  38. The Apologists • The fact that the Apologists placed such great stress on the Logos demonstrates that their theology was Christ-centered. • Though their practice may involve dangers, it is not innately wrong to make one’s message intelligible to one’s time.

  39. Apologists—Justin Martyr • Probably the most dramatic and best known. • Born c. 100 A.D. in a small town in Samaria (though apparently a Gentile), J. early became well acquainted with the various philosophical systems. • But his knowledge of the systems also led to a realization of their inadequacies. • C. 132, at point of disillusionment and searching, an old Christian showed him the way of faith in Christ.

  40. Apologists—Justin Martyr • J. became a Christian philosopher, presenting the Christian message in philosophical terms. • J. wrote apologies to the emperor Antoninus Pius and his adopted son, Marcus Aurelius, and a dialogue with Trypho the Jew. • He sought to defend C. against the charges of atheism and immorality, and to demonstrate that Christians were loyal citizens.

  41. Apologists—Justin Martyr • Christ’s kingdom was not of this world so Rome had no reason to fear insurrection. • He also sought to prove that the truth was taught by Christianity alone. • In the dialogue with Trypho, J. tried to show that Jesus was the Messiah. • During his second stay in Rome, he engaged in a public debate with Crescens the philosopher.

  42. Apologists—Justin Martyr • Shortly after (c. 163), he was martyred by Marcus Aurelius, perhaps at the instigation of several philosophers close to the emperor. • The later chapters of his first apology are interesting because of comments on belief and practice regarding the Lord’s Supper and baptism. • He was one of the foremost interpreters of Christianity between the late 1st & early 3rd centuries.

  43. Apologists—Justin Martyr • Though he is commonly presented as a Christian philosopher, his focus was Christ and his final authority the Scripture, the Word of God. • He was not afraid to sit in judgment on philosophy.

  44. Apologists—Tatian • Was one of Justin Martyr’s converts in Rome. • A native of Assyria, T. was a writer skilled in argumentation. • His Address to the Greeks ridiculed almost every pagan practice. • In last part of the work he argued that since Christianity was superior to Greek religion and thought, it deserved to be tolerated.

  45. Apologists—Tatian • After Justin Martyr’s martyrdom, T. went to Syria where he founded a group later called the Encratites—known for their extreme ascetic practices. • T. is probably best known for his Diatessaron (“through the four”), the earliest harmony of the gospels, composed about 150-160 A.D.

  46. Apologists—Tertullian • A polemicist, T. was sometimes classified among the Apologists. • Born in Carthage, North Africa, c. 160, he seems to have been a lawyer and was won to Christianity late in the century. • He wrote a long list of apologetic and theological works in Latin and Greek. • His Apologeticus (c. 197), addressed to the Roman governor of Carthage, refuted the common charges leveled against Christians.

  47. Apologists—Tertullian • The Apologeticus also demonstrated the loyalty of Christians to the empire, and showed that persecution of Christians was foolish anyway, because they multiplied whenever persecuted. • C. 200, T. was caught up in Montanism. • Justin, Tatian and Tertuallian were significant among the Apologists, but fragmentary or fairly complete writings of at least a half dozen others do exist.

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