Early Church Fathers

For close to 2000 years, the wisdom of these leaders of the ancient christian church, has been inaccessible to ordinary christians. Indeed, it has been unavailable to most clergy. In the latter part of the 19th century, scholars undertook the enormous task of translating most surviving texts written up to approx 600AD from Latin into English. These were published in 38 volumes by Eerdmans, but were still difficult to use. The resources below now make them available to the wider christian community.

You may ask "Why do we need these references? Doesn't the bible contain all we need?" The best answer I can give is that you should test them for yourself. Select some of your favourite scripture verses, and also select a few "difficult" ones. Then read for yourself how the leaders of the early church understood them. It will be a revelation!

Resources

Early Church Fathers (CD); Logos Research Systems. A must for the serious enquirer. 600 years of teaching on one CD! The software features powerful boolean searching that locate just about anything. In searching for scripture quotations, the trick is to remember that the translators sought consistency within the bible used at the time. So look up your verse in the KJV, pick out a seach string of four or five words, and you will locate most of the references.

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Thomas C. Oden (general editor); Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois USA. A full verse-by-verse commentary series based on selections from the above writings. The scriptures covered so far are Mark, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians.

Some Interesting Texts

The Lord's Day: - A compilation of selected texts by Pastor Denis Rupert of the New Life Community Church. These extracts show that christian worship on Sunday, the day of Christ's resurrection, can be traced back to the earliest times (Barnabas 74AD). You may also find interesting my essay on Paul's Teaching on the Sabbath, where I argue there is clear evidence of Sunday worship in the Acts of the Apostles.

Cyrian: Commentary on the Lord's Prayer - Let's give the prayer of Jabez a rest, and get back to the prayer of Jesus!

Jerome: Letter to Oceanus - Today's western culture is similar in many ways to ancient Rome, and people come to Christ carrying a lot of baggage. In this letter, Jerome argues powerfully that when a new christian is baptised, his past can no longer bind him.

Clement: On Marriage - Dating from around 200AD, this text is enlightening and quite balanced, avoiding the austerity of some later writers. Clement understands marriage to be a committed sexual union. By Augustine's time, marriage seems to be understood more in terms of Roman law.

Note: The above texts, which were first digitised on the Early Church Fathers CD from Logos Research Systems, come originally from the 38 volume set first published by Eerdmans.


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