How wonderful, and fun, to make new friends. I think you will be pleased to make their aquaintance, to become personal friends with the greatest Bible teachers that God has given the Church. These friends, some of whom knew the Apostles personally, and some who lived through the early persecutions, and others that fought heretics and defined the Holy Orthodox Faith during the time of the "Seven Great Ecumenical Councils"(325 - 787 A.D.). These friends were martyred for the Faith, defeated the heretics, wrote the Nicene Creed, and determined the Canon of New Testament Scripture. Here, I now introduce you to the great Bible teachers of the Ancient Church.
These influential Theologians lived during the first eight centuries of the Church following after the authors of the New Testament. The Church Fathers of the period of time from the Apostles of Christ(95 A.D. approx.) until 325 A.D., the year of the First Great Ecumenical Council in Nicea, are known as the Ante-Nicene Fathers. The earliest Fathers of this period, early second century, who had direct links with the Apostles or who were disciples of those who knew the Apostles are called "the Apostolic Fathers". These include Irenaeus of Lyons, Polycarp of Smyrna, Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome. The Church Fathers teaching after 325 A.D. until the "Seventh Ecumenical Council" in 787 A.D. are known as "the Post-Nicene Fathers". Note also that all the Church Fathers are divided into two groups based on which language they wrote in, ie. "The Latin Fathers" which include: Tertullian, Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome; And "The Greek Fathers" which include Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of
Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa. Another grouping of Fathers is known as "The Desert Fathers" which were the "monastics"(monks and hermits) living in the Egyptian desert starting in the 4th century. Though they didn't write as much as the Church Fathers their influence was also very great. Their short writings are recorded in the "Paradise of the Desert Fathers". The most famous of the Desert Fathers are Anthony the Great, Pachomius the Great, Pambo, Evagrius of Pontus, Macarius of Egypt, and Macarius of Alexandria.
The Orthodox Church does not consider "the Age of the Church Fathers" to be over at all, and it includes later influential writers in the term, Church Fathers. Let me introduce you to a few: Cyril and Methodius, brother missionaries to the Slavic peoples(9th c.); In the 10th c. St Simeon Metaphrates codified the Church's "Lives of the Saints"; St Athanasius of Mount Athos founded the Great Lavra Monastery which was the beginning of what would become the Holy Mountain of Athos, and St Simeon the New Theologian wrote his "Spiritual Writings". The 11th c. saw St Theodosius found Russian monasticism. In the 13th c. St Sava was the founder and father of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The 14th c. brings us
St Gregory Palamas and his teachings on the Divine Light, St Sergius of Radonezh, and St Stephen of Perm whose missionary work would pave the way for Siberia, Japan, and Alaska to be reached in the future with the Gospel; St Mark of Ephesus defended Orthodoxy against heresy(15 c.); In the 16th c. Met. Makarii of Moscow wrote his 12 volumes of "Monthly Readings"; St Dimitri of Rostov(17th c.); St Seraphim of Sarov(18th c.); The 19th c. spiritual writer St Ignati Brianchianinov penned "The Arena"; St Nektarios of Aegina, St John of San Francisco, and St Silouan the Athonite crossed over the 19th c. and into the 20th c.
It should be noted that not all the Fathers are considered to be saints, and certainly none of them are regarded as infallible, most especially those who fell into heresy, such as Tertullian and Origen. The Orthodox Church looks rather to the "concensus patrum" -- that is, the "concensus of the Fathers" --for its understanding of the Patristic Orthodox Faith.(orthodoxwiki.org/Church_Fathers)
EXAMPLES OF TEACHING BY THE CHURCH FATHERS FROM THE POPULAR PATRISTICS SERIES PUBLISHED BY St. Vladimir's Seminary Press - www.svspress.com
St Irenaeus of Lyons - "On the Apostolic Preaching"
St Isaac of Ninevah - "On Ascetical Life"
St Cyril of Jerusalem - "On the Christian Sacraments"
St Basil the Great - "On the Holy Spirit"; "On the Human Condition"; "On Fasting and Feasts"
St Athanasius - "On the Incarnation"
St John Chrysostom - "On Marriage and Family Life"; "On Wealth and Poverty"; "On the Priesthood"
St Gregory of Nyssa - "On the Soul and Resurrection"
St Symeon the New Theologian - "On the Mystical Life"
St Gregory the Great - "The Book of Pastoral Rule"
St Maximus the Confessor - "On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ"
St Ephrem the Syrian - "Hymns On Paradise"
St Gregory Nazianzus "The Theologian" - "On God and Christ"
Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen - "On the Lord's Prayer"
St Melito of Sardis - "On Pascha" (Easter)
Hippolytus - "On the Apostolic Tradition"
St Germanus of Constantinople - "On the Divine Liturgy"
You Can Read Online The Church Fathers At:
www.NewAdvent.org/fathers/ Be prepared to read the writings of your new friends!!!
Gather Facts Here:
www.OrthodoxWiki.org I use OrthodoxWiki to do research.
Recommended Book On "The Apostolic Fathers":
"The Apostolic Fathers" edited by Jack N. Sparks