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Questions tagged [early-church]

Relating to first several centuries of the Christian church; usually considered to end in the 4th century

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How many New Testament Manuscripts do we have from the period between the first century and the fourth century?

How many early New Testament Manuscripts do we have from the first four centuries of the Christian faith? (It does not have to be a complete manuscript of a book to count)
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Do any early Church Fathers record the event of the ceasing of spiritual gifts?

A central belief held by an overwhelming majority of Cessationists is that the "supernatural spiritual gifts" (e.g., tongues, prophecy, healing, miracles, etc.) ceased with the end of the apostolic ...
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Were Christians in the Roman Empire known to rescue abandoned babies?

I've read in a Christian publication that one of the things that distinguished early Christian groups in the Roman empire was that they would rescue babies that had been abandoned by their parents. ...
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Who first associated the fourth beast of Daniel 7 with the Roman Empire?

Daniel's vision of the four beasts in Daniel 7 has long intrigued commentators. Regarding the vision of the fourth beast, the text reads: 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a ...
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What did the fathers of the early church think of Tertullian?

Today, Tertullian (c. AD 155–240) has something of a mixed reputation in many Christian circles. He's recognized as a significant thinker and a major contributor to the doctrine of the Trinity. But ...
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Why were the apostles still going to the temple for prayer and rituals?

In the book of Acts you read how the Apostles attend the temple, offer rituals, prayers etc. So it is clear they are still obeying the Law. How is it that they didn't understand modern day ...
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Who are the hypocrites associated with fasting in the Didache?

The early Christian teaching Didache states that Christians should not fast like the hypocrites: Your fasts must not be identical with those of the hypocrites. They fast on Mondays and Thursdays; ...
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Was St. John Chrysostom Pelagian?

In this answer about Pelagianism (Did Pelagius believe in "faith alone"?) the author makes a sort of apology for Pelagianism and claims that St. John Chrysostom was Pelagian himself. The ...
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Is there any extra-biblical evidence of tongues from the first, or even second, century?

This is not a question whether tongues exist, yesterday or today, but I'm looking for extra-biblical writings on the existence thereof. Is there any documentation outside of the Bible, either from ...
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Why does Justin Martyr say that those who are unworthy of seeing God will become imprisoned in animal bodies?

In Dialogue with Trypho, an early Christian text, Justin Martyr and a Jew named Trypho discuss the nature of the soul and its interaction with God. After talking a bit about if animals could see God ...
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What is a good starting point for a study of the early Church? [closed]

I'm very interested in the Early Church (after Christ's Ascension) and was wondering what Orthodox writings are available? So far, I have found Eusebius, Papias, Irenaeus, James the Martyr and Philo ...
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What is the earliest systematic New Testament commentary?

Were Origen's commentaries the earliest attempt to systematically exegete the New Testament texts, so far as there is any record?
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Why did Theodore of Mopsuestia interpret John 20:28 as an exclamation?

John 20:28 says (KJV)... And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Greek... ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου. According to Meyer's NT Commentary... ...
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What is the earliest manuscript of the Gloria in excelsis Deo (Greater Doxology) hymn?

What is the earliest manuscript of the Gloria in excelsis Deo (Greater Doxology) hymn?
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Did the early church accept lifelong, faithful concubinage?

In Bryan Litfin's book, Getting to Know the Church Fathers, I was surprised to read the following about concubinage in the early church, in the context of Augustine's life before conversion: In ...
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Which pre-Nicene Christians who helped shape the trinity doctrine are now considered heretics?

There were several theologians in the early centuries of Christianity whose knowledge of Platonism and other Greek philosophy helped shape what is now known as the trinity doctrine. For example, ...
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How prominent was “prosperity theology” in the early church?

Prosperity theology, or the "health and wealth gospel," is a recent movement that teaches that God promises material blessings, in this life, to those who have faith in him and who do his will. ...
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Which church father first taught the perpetual virginity of Mary?

Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck, in his Reformed Dogmatics, III, §366, briefly deals with Mary's perpetual virginity, and touches on the doctrine's history: We do not yet find this idea of Mary'...
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What liturgical languages were used in the worldwide church/broad christiandom around 500AD?

I understand that the western church used Latin, the eastern church used Greek, and the far eastern church was using Syriac. Was it only those three languages? Or were other languages in use as well ...
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How did the threefold distinction of Deacon, Priest and Bishop come about?

I was reading in another question, and I've heard it said before, that in the early church (Apostolic era), there was not a clear-cut distinction between Deacon, Priest and Bishop in the sacrament of ...
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Saviour of all people, ESPECIALLY of those who believe

1 Timothy 4:10 reads: That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. [NIV] Is there any ...
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What did the early Christian twice weekly fasts consist of?

Other than what is mentioned in the Didache regarding the days for fasting, what did early Christian "twice weekly fasts" consist of? What I'd like to know more about is what they fasted from. For ...
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Where can I find a complete set of Ante-Nicene Writings?

I am a self-learner and am really interested in the writings of the Christian fathers during the Ante-Nicene period. I found an great e-book for a few dollars titled "The Complete Ante-Nicene Church ...
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What is the basis for saying that the Gospel of Thomas was accepted as scripture by early Christians?

In an answer here, Dick Harfield writes: we know that [the Gospel of Thomas] and (probably) Q were treated as scripture by early Christians. Reading the Wikipedia article on the Gospel of Thomas, ...
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When was the early Christian apology “Dialogue with Trypho” written?

I recently became aware of the Dialogue with Trypho, a Christian apology regarding Jesus being the Messiah, written by Justin Martyr sometime during his lifetime (in the years 100–165). However, ...
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What does “persecute with cups” refer to in Augustine's first homily on 1 John?

Augustine, in his first homily on 1 John has a phrase that reads: ut passiones martyrum imitetur, non eos calcibus persequamur! Online it is translated: that we should imitate the sufferings of ...
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In Romans 16:7, are Andronicus and Junia apostles? AND… is Junia a woman? How did the Church Fathers interpret this? [closed]

In Romans 16:7, are Andronicus and Junia apostles? AND... is Junia a woman? Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they ...
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What was the difference between Jerusalem's honorary primacy and the primacy of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch?

In Church History in Plain Language, 144, Bruce Shelley writes about the "primacy" that certain bishops enjoyed in the early church: The Council of Nicaea recognized the bishops of Alexandria, ...
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Who is Augustine arguing against in his Confessions, book 12?

In Augustine's Confessions, book XII, chapters xvi–xvii (23–24), he writes about his disagreements with others over the proper interpretation of the Creation account in Genesis 1. Augustine holds that ...
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Is there any historical evidence that Gnosticism disappeared because Gnostics converted to Christianity?

In his article "Mysticism in the Early Church, in The American Journal of Theology, Aurther C McGiffert says, Closely connected with Paul, John, and Ignatius are the Gnosics, the most famous ...
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Were there women leaders in the early church?

We have a lot of documents from early church fathers, who were as far as I'm aware always male, but is there any accounts of females acting in a leadership or authority role similar to that of the ...
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When and how was the doctrine of the one divine will established?

Many (perhaps most) Trinitarian theologians says that the Father, Son, and Spirit each possess the one singular divine will. This is a stronger statement than saying they are "united in will", which ...
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What is the earliest mention of how often the Eucharist was celebrated?

There is no explicit mention of how often the Eucharist was celebrated in the Bible. What are the earliest historical documents that make reference to how often the Eucharist was celebrated?
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Which specific canons of the Second Council of Constantinople do Lutherans and Calvinists reject?

The Wikipedia article on the Second Council of Constantinople (the fifth Ecumenical Council) claims that Lutherans and Calvinists accept only the first four Ecumenical Councils as being canonical. My ...
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Maintaining the number of Disciples [closed]

Acts 1:24-26; And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen, to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside ...
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Does Irenaeus indicate that people were raised from the dead in the 2nd century?

The following words of Irenaeus are recorded in Eusebius's Church History: For some of them drive out demons effectually and truly, so that those who have been cleansed from evil spirits frequently ...
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Do any church fathers directly connect “speaking in tongues” with anything other than existing human languages?

One of the arguments made by those who believe that the gift of speaking in tongues has ceased (cessationists) is that the "tongues" spoken of in both Acts and 1 Corinthians 12–14 are "real" human ...
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Why did Augustine attempt to stop Christians from walking barefoot?

In The Confessions, Augustine relates the story of an ascetic named Alypius who "tamed his body" to such an extent that "he went barefoot on the icy soil of Italy" (IX.vi). Henry Chadwick notes: ...
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What is the difference between the Ebionites and Nazarenes?

The Ebionites and Nazarenes were Jewish–Christian sects during the Second Temple era. We know that the Ebionites believed Yeshu was born of a natural generation between Joseph and Mary; while some ...
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Did any ancient source believe in more than four gospels?

I'm listening to a lecture series by Dale Martin (Professor of Religious Studies, Yale), and he makes the passing claim that during development of the New Testament canon there were some who thought ...
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How were women to serve the church according to the Apostolic Fathers?

Did the Apostolic Church Fathers write about the capacity in which women were to serve in the early church, or expand the capacity in which they served the church? In other words, what were they ...
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Did Pelagius believe in “faith alone”?

The doctrine of "faith alone," or sola fide, teaches that people are justified only by their faith in Christ, not by any works they do. It was emphasized during the Protestant Reformation, where it ...
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Earliest case of pointing to heaven as consolation and hope to loved ones

I know of a few early church writings that can be understood as saying we go to heaven when we die. But that is not what I'm asking. Rather, I'm looking for the first known case (post NT) where, in ...
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Was Arianism spread using musical jingles?

I found an interesting claim in Bruce Shelley's Church History in Plain Language, regarding Arius's methods of promoting his theology, Arianism: [Arius] put ideas into jingles, which set to simple ...
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Did Tertullian forbid Christians from being school teachers?

While reading Bruce Shelley's Church History in Plain Language, I came across the following quote, in the context of how early Christians separated themselves from the world around them for fear of ...
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Historical evidence for a separate Jewish branch of Christianity?

I've met some non-Hebrew people who have come from a Protestant background, become fed up with their faith, changed churches, etc and now call themselves Messianic Jews. This comes with some claims of ...
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Did Justin Martyr and Marcion of Sinope have any contact with one another?

I'm interested to discover if there is any evidence that Justin Martyr and Marcion of Sinope had any direct or indirect contact before Marcion left the Church. I suspect that they may have had ...
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What is the earliest use of the phrase “God the Son”?

Does the phrase "God the Son" appear in manuscripts or early translations (Textus Receptus, Vulgate, etc.) of the New Testament scriptures? If not, when did the phrase enter into the Christian ...
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What is the earliest extrabiblical teaching of baptism using a trinitarian formula?

Oneness Pentecostals and others who hold to "Jesus-name" (or "Jesus-only") baptism maintain that the trinitarian formula used by Nicene Christians and others is based on a misunderstanding of Matthew ...
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Was Augustine opposed to the death penalty?

In Henry Chadwick's translation of the Confessions, I find him making a surprising claim: Like most of the Church Fathers, Augustine was against capital punishment. (page 21) The context is ...