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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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When and how did men and women start sitting together in church?

As I understand it, the early church began in homes but then at some point (it's another question) started meeting together in larger meetings. My question is: did men and women sit together from the ...
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Did the Apostles' Creed originate with the Apostles?

The Apostles' Creed is perhaps the oldest statement of faith in the Christian tradition. Is there any evidence that it was used by Jesus' first followers? If not, when did it originate?
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Early church writers opposed to the baptism of infants?

In his book On Baptism, Chapter 18, "Of the Persons to Whom, and the Time When, Baptism is to Be Administered," Tertullian says According to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each ...
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Was tithing 10% required or encouraged by the early church?

I cannot find in the New Testament an obligation on Christians to tithe 10% of their income. Instead I read that it is up the individual to decide: 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV1984) Each man should ...
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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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Is it true that early Christians were baptised naked?

I was told that people were baptised naked in the early Christian church. Is this true? If so, could you provide references please?
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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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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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For how long did the early Christians share all their possessions?

According to Acts 4:32-37, the early Christians pooled all their possessions and had no private ownership. Is there any record of how long this lasted, and why it ended?
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What is the earliest written surviving liturgy?

The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, for example, has been traced to the fourth century, and is purported to be based upon even earlier forms. The Liturgy of St James is even more ancient, and is ...
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What were the early Christians officially persecuted for?

I wonder what the early Christians were officially persecuted for by the high priests? In the book of Acts we see that Saul, before his conversion, received some letters from the high priest that ...
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Did the first Christian believers keep the Sabbath and if so on which day?

According to Colossians, there appears to be some disagreement amongst the first century church on whether to keep the Sabbath: Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what ...
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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 basis for the claim that the entire New Testament can be reconstructed apart from original and copied manuscripts?

Bit of a mouthy title, but I remember reading a few years ago that the entire New Testament (perhaps with the exception of very few verses) and most of the Old Testament could be reconstructed from ...
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Why did Christianity survive at all? [closed]

I was reading about ... hold on, what was I reading about? Nevermind, I was URL surfing. Jumping around from one link to another I somehow got to this - He [Nero] was known for having captured ...
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Into whose name should Christians be baptised? [closed]

Jesus said, "...go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." However, the early church apparently baptised in the name of ...
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Did anyone understand the Holy Spirit to be a person prior to the Council of Constantinople in AD 381?

Do we know of any case of the concept of the Holy Spirit being a person existing among Christians before the Constantinople council of 381 A.D.? The reason I am asking this question is because one ...
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What are the key differences between the Western and Eastern Christianity?

I'm currently reading about Eastern Christianity as a part of my study. Those are the churches that have existed since early times, such as the Nestorians, the Jacobites, the Coptics, and others. But ...
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Why didn't Syriac Christianity keep Aramaic as their liturgical language?

Syriac Christianity (as well as with other oriental orthodoxy denominations) today use Arabic as their liturgical language. It is known that they have been using Arabic since the times of Muslim ...
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Have any ante-Nicene writings been discovered in the past 20 years?

Have any writings or fragments of ante-Nicene Church Fathers previously unknown (that is the actual words were not known, not necessarily that the name of the work was also previously unknown) to ...
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When was the Bible formally declared to be inerrant and/or infallible?

Fundamentally*, an inerrant Bible is one without errors and an infallible Bible is one that cannot have errors, as David Stratton pointed out in his answer. As for the Roman Catholic Church, all of ...
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Which NT books were written after the destruction of the temple?

The temple was destroyed sometime around AD 70. Which New Testament books were written after that catastrophe? Do these books comment at all on the destruction of the temple?
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Why did early Christians in Acts still go to the Jewish temple every day?

In the Acts of the Apostles we find that the early believers were every day visiting the temple and afterwards meeting in each others homes. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple ...
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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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Is a claim of 50,000,000 Baptist martyrs accurate?

In the book The Trail of Blood by James M Carroll, the author makes the claim that 50,000,000 early Baptists were martyred under persecution by the Catholic Church. The author makes the claim ...
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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 Scriptures did Arius use to support teaching that Jesus was created?

Arius probably quoted the following: Revelation 3:14: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. Psalm 8:5–6: thou madest Him ...
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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 ...
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Did St. Thomas come to India?

Did St. Thomas the apostle come to India? Most of the Indian people believe that he came to south India, and spread the good news even before the Roman Catholic Church is formed. However, the church ...
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What explanations have scholars proposed for the rejection of the Didache from the Canon?

The Didache (full text) is an early Christian document giving advice on various "practical matters" such as how to baptize, when to fast, how to celebrate the Lord's Supper, etc. It's hard to date, ...
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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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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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What is an overview of early church opposition to authorities?

What is an overview of early church father expressions of opposition against authorities? I'm looking for things like: Protests against state-/government-sponsored injustice Arguments against the ...
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Did the church fathers or OT talk about the visible and invisible church?

In the Reformation, the doctrine of the distinction between the visible and invisible church was important in the Reformers' claim not to have started a rogue church. I am wondering... Given that it ...
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Did any other early church fathers besides Origen teach the pre-existence of souls?

Origen taught about the pre-existence of our souls, which, among many other of his teachings, was later condemned as heresy. Did any other early church fathers teach this doctrine?
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Besides Paul, were there any other enemies of the early church who converted to Christianity?

As I was listening to a debate between Drs. William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier on the historicity of Jesus' resurrection, something Dr. Carrier said caught my attention. He claimed that "[Paul] is ...
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Was the Assumption of Mary a belief in the early church?

Was the Assumption of Mary a belief in the early church? If so, where's the evidence? The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life is a defined dogma of the ...
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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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Does Jesus's soul exist before his incarnation?

I am referring to clause III in "The Anathematisms of the Emperor Justinian Against Origen": If anyone says or thinks that the soul of the Lord pre-existed and was united with God the Word before ...
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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 support is there in the Patristic writings for Marian Devotion?

Specifically, I want to know if there is evidence in the early Church of Christians venerating Mary. Evidence from the time following Mary's earthly life is preferred, though not required.
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Other than Augustine, which Church Fathers have directly influenced John Calvin's teaching of “double-predestination?”

"By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are ...
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Did Christ know who He was as a youth? [closed]

Did Jesus Christ know as a baby that He was the Son of God? When He worked carpentry with Joseph, His earthly father, did He know then Who or What He was? Did He sense in anyway prior to being a ...
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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 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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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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Was regular weekly fasting a widespread, formal tradition in the early Church?

In The Story of Christianity,* author Justo Gonzalez offers the following: There were indeed times set aside for sorrow for one's sins, in particular during the two weekly days of fasting, which ...
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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 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?