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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
A select library of Nicene and post-Nicene fathers of the Christian church (1886–1900) 2 series, 28 vols, Buffalo. (Repr. Grant Rapids, Michigan, 1952–1956)
Migne Jacques-Paul (1844–1866) Patrologiae cursus completus (PG = Patrologia Graeca; PL = Patrologia Latina), 382 vols, Paris
The Ante-Nicene Fathers (1884–1887) 10 vols. American reprint of Edinburgh ed., Buffalo
Brown SF (2003) The patristic background. In: Gracia JE, Noone TB (eds) A companion to philosophy in the Middle Ages, Blackwell, Oxford, pp 23–34
Di Berardino A, Studer B (eds) (1997) History of theology I: the patristic period. Liturgical Press, Collegeville
Kelly JND (1960) Early Christian doctrine, 2nd edn. Harper, New York
Wace H, Piercy WC (1994) A dictionary of Christian biography. Hendrickson Publishing, Peabody
Wolfson HA (1967) The philosophy of the Church fathers, 2nd edn. Harvard University Press, Cambridge
Editors and Affiliations
© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
About this entry
Cite this entry
Brown, S.F. (2011). Church Fathers. In: Lagerlund, H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_125
Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht
Print ISBN: 978-1-4020-9728-7
Online ISBN: 978-1-4020-9729-4
eBook Packages: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law