Timeline of the Early Church Fathers
Table of The Early Church Fathers & Others
This is a table of the documents and church fathers I mention in the podcast, and some other notable worthies. The dates cited are the broadest accepted by scholars who, needless to say, often differ. I also have a nice chart for you.
Person or Event
Apostolic Fathers, those whom tradition says knew the apostles
|1 Clement||65?–100||Anonymous. Clement was held to be a “Bishop” of Rome, and the author of several letters, which assert apostolic succession. A few scholars hold it was written as early as 65.|
|Author of the Didache||80–120||Anonymous. Book of church order, that almost made it into the New Testament.|
|Ignatius||85?–115 or 105-140||“Bishop” of Antioch. Student of the apostle John and friend of Polycarp. Author of seven letters, about which there is much dispute. Advocate of episcopal supremacy. Creates the cult of martyrs, and coins the term “catholic”.|
|Papias||95–120 or 110–140||“Bishop” of Hierapolis. Student of John and companion to Polycarp. Only known by quotations in later Fathers, who held him in low esteem.|
|Author of the Shepherd of Hermas||100–160||Anonymous. Much loved allegory that many thought should be in the New Testament. Hermas was variously associated with Paul, or “bishops” Clement or Pius of Rome.|
|Polycarp||100–155/165||“Bishop” of Smyrna. Student of John and companion to Papias. Reluctant martyr.|
|Cerinthus||100||Early Gnostic. Supposed opponent of the evangelist John.|
|Author of the Epistle of Barnabas||125-135||Anonymous. Attributed to a companion of Paul. Almost made it into the New Testament.|
|Marcion||140–160||First to compile a canon for the NT. Marcion broke from mainstream Christianity when the Roman Jesus club rejected his proposed canon. He constructed his own canon, consisting of an abridged version of Luke, and some of Paul’s letters. His organisation vexed the other Jesus clubs for centuries.|
|Montanus||140?–210||Very uncertain dating. Created a schismatic, ascetic, and prophetic following that flourished in Asia Minor for centuries.|
|Justin Martyr||150–165||Prolific apologist and exegete, the most important thinker between Paul and Origen.|
|Melito||150–180||Bishop of Sardis. First Christian to refer to the Jewish scriptures as the OT.|
|Irenaeus||150–200||Bishop of Lyon. Knew Polycarp as a boy. Author of the massive work Against the Heretics, which provides us with invaluable information about earliest Christianity.|
|Tatian||160–185||Compiler of the Diatessaron, a synthesis of the four gospels.|
|Clement of Alexandria||180–215||First great intellectual and theologian of Christianity. Transitional figure to the more sophisticated authors of later centuries. Founded the first Christian academy at Alexandria. My have known Tatian.|
|Origen||200–250||First Christian Bible scholar. Compiled the Hexapla, a critical edition of the Old Testament. Possibly the most prolific writer of antiquity, writing over 2,000 treatises. Much later condemned as a heretic.|
|Tertullian||200–240||First Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. Later converted to Montanism, which tarnished his legacy in orthodox opinion.|
|Cyprian of Carthage||245–260||Pre-eminent Latin writer of Western Christianity until Jerome and Augustine. Much influenced by Tertullian.|
|Edict of Toleration||313||Christianity legalised.|
|Eusebius||310–340||Bishop of the old Roman capital of Judea, Caesarea Maritima. Important Church historian. His works are often the sole source we have for earlier church fathers.|
|Council of Nicaea||325||Basic creed of Christianity established.|
|Athanasius||330–375||Controversial Patriarch of Alexandria. First to define the canon of New Testament exactly as we have it.|
Bishop of Milan. Major influence on church-state relations through the Middle Ages.
|Edict of Thessalonica||380||Christianity made the state religion.|
|Jerome||380–420||Compiler of the Latin Vulgate, a translation of the Bible into Latin that was used by the western Church for centuries. Correspondent of Augustine.|
|Augustine||390–430||Bishop of Hippo. Most influential theologian of all the Fathers in the West.|
Patriarch of Constantinople. Greatest preacher of the Fathers.
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