We use the phrase "The Early Church" all the time around here, which leads me to ask... What exactly is "the early Church"?
The New testament Church is easy to define – the fellowship of believers that existed during New testament times. But I've never come across a definitive date range for the "Early Church" or even a specific event or marker.
For comparison, the "Middle Ages" sounds like it might be a relative term, but the term "Middle Ages" refers to a specific time period – the 5th to the 15th century A.D.
Does "The Early Church" refer to a specific, commonly accepted time period in the history of the Church, or do we just use it to refer to "Sometime early A.D." with the definition of "early" being up to open interpretation?