22 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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21 votes
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Did Tertullian forbid Christians from being school teachers?

Prohibition on teaching Tertullian does indeed forbid Christians from pursuing the profession of a school teacher, in De Idololatria, Chapter 10: Undoubtedly Christians are not allowed to be ...
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19 votes
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Is a claim of 50,000,000 Baptist martyrs accurate?

No, there is no reliable historical evidence to support such a claim. Before going into the question significantly, I should point out that the number of Baptists killed by the Catholic Church ...
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  • 18.3k
18 votes
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What is the earliest use of the phrase "God the Son"?

This question is complicated, of course, by the fact that we must work with translations of the original texts in order to find this wording. However, at least three second-century authors use this ...
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17 votes

How did Christians respond to abortion in the early Church?

There were church commandments against it, and from the earliest times. The Didache, i.e. the earliest Christian catechetical document (and contemporaneous with the Gospels, probably earlier than A.D....
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  • 7,327
16 votes

What was the Early Church’s view on socialism?

To what extent was the early church "socialist"? Acts 4:32-37 (NASB95) And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one [of them] claimed that anything ...
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15 votes
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Does Jesus's soul exist before his incarnation?

This is one of the popular misconception of trinity and incarnation. Jesus as Logos (The Word) is divine. He existed in that form for eternity in the Trinity. But the humanity of Christ did NOT exist ...
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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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15 votes

Why is there no archaeological evidence that Christians existed for 200 years after 70 AD?

Douglas Boin addresses the two main reasons given for the lack of archaeological evidence of Christianity during the period in question: Theological: Christians applied a Biblical prohibition on ...
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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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Was Arianism spread using musical jingles?

The source appears to be mostly St. Athanasius, who was a deacon in Alexandria at the time the Arian controversy broke out (and later the bishop of the same see). He writes in his Discourses Against ...
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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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13 votes
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Are there any biblical examples of Early Church disciples praying to deceased saints in order to request their intercessory prayer?

Is there any biblical evidence that [asking dead saints for intercession] was a common practice in the early church? The New Testament contains neither any example of nor any reference to this ...
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12 votes
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What is the earliest extrabiblical teaching of baptism using a trinitarian formula?

Two early church writings can be seen to address this issue: the Didache and Justin Martyr's First Apology. Didache Early evidence for a trinitarian formula in baptism might be found in the Didache, ...
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12 votes
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What does "persecute with cups" refer to in Augustine's first homily on 1 John?

“Calcibus” is the ablative or dative plural of calx, which means “limestone” (from which we get the term “calcium”) or, alternatively, “heel.” I believe the translator mistook “calcibus” for “...
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12 votes
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When was the early Christian apology "Dialogue with Trypho" written?

Justin's Dialogue with Trypho is usually dated toward the end of his life, after AD 155. According to Craig D. Allen, this is largely based on evidence that it was written after his First Apology, ...
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12 votes

Was any early martyr of the Church sawn in two, as mentioned in Hebrews?

Was any martyr of the Church sawn in two, as mentioned in Hebrews? The short answer is yes. The term "death by sawing" indicates the act of sawing a living person in half, either sagitally (...
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12 votes

Are there any biblical examples of Early Church disciples praying to deceased saints in order to request their intercessory prayer?

Are there any biblical examples of Christians in the Early Church communicating with dead saints in order to request their intercessory prayer? The short answer seems to be no. There are no clear ...
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  • 53.3k
12 votes

What was the Early Church’s view on socialism?

Modern-day Socialists would be unlikely to view the first century Christians as Socialists, despite a few similarities. This dictionary definition of socialism states that Socialists believe in a &...
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  • 16.4k
11 votes
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Who are the hypocrites associated with fasting in the Didache?

It is indeed about the Pharisees. Here's what Shmuel Safrai's paper “Religion in Everyday Life" says: Mondays and Thursdays, which were synagogue days, when country-folk came to town and the courts ...
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10 votes

Which NT books were written after the destruction of the temple?

As others have noted, dates of the writing of New Testament books are disputed. Let me use F. F. Bruce's "The New Testament Documents" as my major source here. This page -- http://www.freebeginning....
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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
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Was defining the New Testament originally condemned as heresy?

It is impossible to know for sure without asking the person that said it, but I believe it is most likely, given her description of the individual in question, the historical time frame and the ...
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  • 2,074
10 votes
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Did the early church accept lifelong, faithful concubinage?

Pope Calixtus I, who died around 222, permitted the marriage of high born women to men of a lower class, and even to slaves. This was contrary to Roman law, so the Pope was recognising as validly ...
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  • 7,108
10 votes
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What is the earliest systematic New Testament commentary?

Origen's commentaries do indeed appear to be the earliest surviving line-by-line, self-contained biblical commentaries. This becomes evident when we examine his closest competitors. We'll look first ...
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10 votes
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Why does Justin Martyr say that those who are unworthy of seeing God will become imprisoned in animal bodies?

First, keep in mind that Trypho is (almost certainly) a fictional character. He takes the statement in stride because it suits Justin's purpose. To answer your question, transmigration of the soul ...
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  • 3,538
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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