23 votes
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Did anyone understand the Holy Spirit to be a person prior to the Council of Constantinople in AD 381?

Tertullian One early, clear indication of the doctrine of the personhood of the Holy Spirit appears in Tertullian's work, Against Praxeas, dated around AD 215,1 saying: [W]hile the mystery of the ...
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19 votes
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When was the word "trinity" first applied to God in Christianity?

Without question, Theophilus of Antioch (d. 183) is your man. He wrote in Greek: [God's creations on the first three days--light, sky, and vegetation--] are types of the Trinity [Τριάδος], of God, ...
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18 votes

Why is Mark not the first gospel?

It's because the early church fathers thought that Matthew was written first. This is known as the Augustinian Hypothesis, and its namesake, Augustine, writes: Now, those four evangelists whose ...
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16 votes
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Why is Pontius Pilate blamed for killing Jesus in the Apostles' Creed?

Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski in his book, The Apostles's Creed: and its Early Christian Context, argues that Pilate was specifically mentioned primarily in order to argue for and defend the humanity and ...
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15 votes
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What is the earliest mention of how often the Eucharist was celebrated?

The earliest indication may be in the Didache, typically dated at the end of the first century. It describes the celebration of the Lord's Supper in terms of the cup and breaking bread, and then says:...
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14 votes
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What is the origin of the story that the Apostle John taught only "love one another"?

It's from Jerome's Commentary on Galatians, 6:10: The blessed John the Evangelist lived in Ephesus until extreme old age. His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the ...
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14 votes
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Was universalism the majority belief of the early church?

Background Obviously, this topic suffers from dogmatists on both sides. Universalists are desperate to overstate their case, and traditionalists are desperate to prove the early church didn't have ...
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13 votes
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When was “pistis christou” first understood as a statement about Christ’s faith?

Having chased up the account provided in the answer that follows, I now find there is a full-blown and properly specialist study of precisely this question. Gratifyingly, the main contours are the ...
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13 votes
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Did any early Church Fathers record the event of the ceasing of spiritual gifts?

As bradimus has indicated, this is a tricky issue, because projecting the modern debate of cessationism vs. continuationism onto church fathers is anachronistic. That said, some figures in the early ...
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11 votes
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Why did Clement and Eusebius believe that Paul was married?

Clement of Alexander likely was referring to Philippians 4:3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion (σύζυγε), help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with ...
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  • 7,726
11 votes
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Was there a "cessation of church fathers" in Catholicism?

There isn't really a bright line distinction, but John of Damascus (died ~750) is often cited as the last one. For example, Catholic.com: the death of St. John Damascene [cir. A.D. 750] is generally ...
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11 votes

Bible with commentaries of the Church Fathers

The Catena Bible is freely available both at the linked website and as an app for Android and iOS, and provides related patristic commentaries for each verse.
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  • 211
10 votes
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When in the development of trinitarian doctrine was the word "persons" first applied to God?

Tertullian: Earliest extant use of term Tertullian (155 - 240) was, famously, the first Latin writer to use the word "trinity" in his anti-Sabellian treatise Against Praxeas. It also contains the ...
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10 votes
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Did Augustine believe in Purgatory?

It appears that Augustine believed that purgatory was real, but didn't believe the matter was settled. His agnosticism seems clearest in this passage: It is a matter that may be inquired into, and ...
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10 votes

What did the early church believe about the "rapture"?

Thanks to books like Left Behind, the English word rapture often conjures up images of bodies mysteriously disappearing into thin air, followed by several years of severe tribulation, leading up to ...
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10 votes

Why did Clement and Eusebius believe that Paul was married?

What an interesting find! The Biblical text in view is indeed 1 Cor 9. The key to understanding how they derived this interpretation is knowing what Clement and Eusebius meant by the words translated ...
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  • 4,292
10 votes
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Did any of the Apostolic Fathers know Paul?

A case could be made for Clement of Rome, considered by Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.3.3) and Eusebius (Church History V.6) to be the fourth Bishop of Rome (after Peter, Linus, and [Ana]cletus). (...
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10 votes

Is there any extra-biblical evidence of tongues from the first, or even second, century?

Ronald A. N. Kydd in his book Charismatic Gifts in the Early Church mentions several second-century quotes that he argues refer to glossolalia, what we call speaking in tongues. His work clearly ...
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10 votes
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Has the term "born again" always been synonymous with baptism with the Christians of the Early Church?

Some Clarification You question specifically asks if there were any in the Early Church (~2nd to 4th century) who separated "born again" with baptism. Meanwhile, the site you quote claims that this ...
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10 votes
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What is the source of this quote from St. Augustine?

The problem with references to church fathers is that they get paraphrased from time to time. Sometimes you will just have to look in Augustine for similar terminology and see if you can find the ...
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10 votes
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Bible with commentaries of the Church Fathers

The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture is the leading commentary series collecting the church fathers. At 29 volumes would be a big investment to buy, but most theological colleges/seminaries ...
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9 votes

When did the immutability of God become entrenched in Christian literature?

Writings Very early. At least as early as Justin Martyr, in The First Apology (~AD 150): For they proclaim our madness to consist in this, that we give to a crucified man a place second to the ...
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9 votes
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What view of eschatology did the early church believe?

This is a difficult question to answer, because the early church did not approach the question in the same way that many people do today. The earliest fathers expressed their belief in various ...
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9 votes

When was “pistis christou” first understood as a statement about Christ’s faith?

As a supplement to David's answer, and in response to your second bullet in particular, let me offer the following. In "ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ: Witness of the Fathers" (1994), Roy A. Harrisville reports on ...
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9 votes

Do any of the Church Fathers draw a connection between Eve and the Holy Spirit?

Perhaps not surprisingly, in light of Ephesians 5, church fathers widely connect Eve with Christ's Church. This seems to displace other interpretations, like a connection between Eve and the Holy ...
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9 votes

Which church father first taught the perpetual virginity of Mary?

As with many doctrines in the first few hundred years of the church, they tended not to be explicitly defined until heretics arose forcing the church to define doctrine. This is why history is ...
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  • 1,133
9 votes
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What did the fathers of the early church think of Tertullian?

Like today, those in the early church had differing opinions regarding Tertullian. Some were largely critical, some largely complimentary, and some more balanced. The first writings we have ...
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8 votes
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What is an overview of early church opposition to authorities?

To be clear, the Church Fathers were specifically against rebellion. This being said however, some Church Fathers have in fact rather bluntly suggested that the affairs of the state and the power ...
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