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Church Fathers

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The Church Fathers are the early Christian authors who were considered the authentic witnesses of Christian life and belief. The first of these writers were the Apostolic Fathers, those closest to the time of the Apostles, and thus the earliest noncanonical witnesses to the Church’s understanding of the Christian Scriptures. As the Church grew in numbers and became more noticed, it also became the target of criticism and needed to be defended against charges that were opposed to it. This work was done by the next generation of Church Fathers, the Christian Apologists. When the Church grew and spread even more, it gathered into its flock people of different cultural levels. This demanded that the Church develop schools and also sound teachers. These teachers, both in the East and the West, manifested the strength of Christian truth and the power of Christian life in their writings that marked this period as the Golden Age of the Fathers. The end of the Patristic era is generally marked in the West with the death of St. Isidore of Seville (d. c. 636) and in the East with the death of St. John of Damascus (d. c. 750). The writings of the Fathers have been given great respect both in their role of establishing the Christian tradition of beliefs and patterns of living and also as works that provide a deeper grasp of the meaning of Christian truths or provoke questions that lead Christians to a deeper understanding of their beliefs.

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Primary Sources

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© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Brown, S.F. (2011). Church Fathers. In: Lagerlund, H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy. Springer, Dordrecht.

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