(Continuation of 'ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY' from page 3:
THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS:
The earliest of church Apostles were Clement of
Rome, Ignatius, Hermas, Polycarp and Papias;
Including the unknown authors of the Didache,
and the Epistal of Barabas.
They all were concerned mostly with the matters
concerning Christian faith,
Writing letters between churches and with logical
Telling their devotees not to lose faith, -
In the midst of growing religious persecutions!
Some of these early fathers had been taught, -
By the great apostle St Peter and St John!
So these fathers of the church were called –
Because they provided a privileged linkage,
Between those Apostles of Jesus of Nazareth, -
And the next generation of Church Fathers, -
To continue the historic Christian heritage!
From the second half of the 2nd Century AD,
There came forward many Christian Apologists;
To defend Christianity from false accusations,
And to clarify prevailing doubts and misconceptions;
Writing letters to Roman Emperors to stop religious
They like their predecessors developed the doctrines
of the Church,
And gallantly defended the nascent Christian faith, -
From heretical accusations which had begun!
Amongst the many Greek Apologists to mention
Were Justin Martyr, Tatian, Apollinaris, Clement
of Alexanderia and Athenagoras;
While Macus Flix and Tertullian, as Latin Apologists,
were better known and famous!
Let me highlight the works of only a relevant few,
And thereby pay Medieval Philosophy my humble
THE 1st AND 2nd CENTURY FATHERS:
Pope St Clement (born during 1st century)
Clement of Rome, about whom very little is
Said to be the first Apostolic Father of the
Tertullian claims that he was consecrated by
And also became his worthy successor!
His only writing that survives, is his letter to
the Corithian Church,
Telling them to restore the unjustly deposed
This letter dated 95 AD, was the time when
the gospel of St John came to be!
Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (35-107 AD) :
Is known for his letters to the churches and to
Which are widely quoted by the early Church.
For the unity of the Church, he viewed Bishop’s
Office as an important safeguard!
Traveled under escort from Asia Minor for the
world to see,
To be finally martyred in Rome in 107 AD!
Papias Bishop of Hierapolis (60-130 AD) :
Known for his ‘Expositions of the sayings of
Which provides historic information about the
Gospels to us all!
Said to have been a disciple of St John, -
Which makes him even more illustrious;
As mentioned in the writings of Ireneaus.
Polycarp (69-155 AD) :
Was born in Smyrna (Turkey) , known for his
‘Epistle to the Phillipians’;
Defended the faith against the heresies of the
Marcionites and the Valentinians!
Said to have know St John and other disciples
During a pagan festival he was arrested, -
To be burnt to death, for refusing to recant
his Christian faith!
Justin Martyr(100-165) :
Also known as Justin of Caesarea and Justin the
Was brought up as a pagan, had inherited property,
and studied philosophy!
And after long search for truth, finally converted
Is considered the greatest of Apologists!
Sizable portion of his work survives on
He argued that God had provided hints in ancient
Greek philosophy, -
About the final revelation of Christ through
‘logos spermatikos’ = “the seed-bearing word”!
Suffered martyrdom under Marcus Aurelius, -
For refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods!
Ireneus: Bishop of Lyons (178-200) :
Born in Smyra (Turkey) , went to Rome,
and finally settled in France!
Author of “Against Heresies”, a treaties -
against Gnosticism and especially against
Wrote about the Christian doctrine of Salvation,
and holding of the Apostolic tradition, -
Against all false accusations and interpretations!
FIRST LATIN APOLOGIST
Tertullian (160-225) :
Remembered as the first Christian Apologist writer
Was the son of a centurion, born in Carthage;
Converted to Christianity around 197 AD.
Known for his numerous theological and morale
polemical works like; -
‘Apology’, ‘On Penitence’, ‘Against Heretics’,
‘On the Incarnation of Christ’, and many more!
Was rigorous in his insistence on separation of
religious faith from pagan reasoning;
Which made him to make that famous retort, -
“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem? ”,
Implying that reason should remain divorced
from Christian faith!
Known as ‘Father of Latin Christianity’,
Became famous for his coinage of the term –
And also for ‘Three Persons, One Substance’, -
Which is ‘homoousios’ in Greek vocabulary!
Remembered for his gemlike sentences and
He shall always be quoted till our world lasts!
Mentioning a few of his quotes now becomes a
‘‘Nothing that is God’s is obtainable by money’’,
‘‘The blood of the martyr is the seed of the church’’,
‘’The first reaction of truth is hatred’’,
‘‘Discipline is an index of doctrine’’,
‘‘The more you mow us down, the more numerous
we grow, the blood of Christians is seed! ’’
But some of his innovative ideas were rejected by
Later he embraced Montanism, a heretical sect,
But again separated to set up his own faith!
The remnants of the Tertullianists were later
Back into the Christian fold by St Augustine!
CONCLUDING PART - I OF MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY:
In an era when printing was unknown,
And hand-copied scriptures were both expensive
Availability of Patristic writings reveal to us,
How widely the sacred documents were dispersed, -
All across the far-flung ancient world!
For Clement was in Rome, Ireneus in France;
Polocarp in Asia Minor, Ignatus in Syria, Tertullian
in Africa, and Justin Martyr in Ephesus!
Having mentioned about the Apostolic and Apologist
Fathers of the Ancient Church;
I now move on to the greatest of them all,
With whom Patristic Philosophy reaches its culminating
The great St Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo!
His ‘Confessions’, ‘The City of God’, and fifteen
chapters on Trinity,
Even to this day remain as classics in the History
of Philosophy! (To be continued, Part- II next!)
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Dear Friends, Next portion will deal with St Augustine of Hippo,
- with him Medieval Philosophy proper begins! Thank you!
- Raj Nandy, New Delhi
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