Post-Apostolic Fathers of the Church

Paradosis or handing on or down of Divine Revelation is affirmed in Sacred Scripture. Hence, it must be found in some contiguous historical form from age to age. Catholic Christians believe that the promise of the Spirit of Truth to guide believers in truth is found in the constant faith of the Church as preserved in the writings of the Post-Apostolic Fathers.

The term "Post-Apostolic Fathers" is the name given by the Christian Church to the writers who established Christian doctrine before the 8th century. The writings of the Fathers or Patristic Literature synthesized Christian doctrine as found in the Bible, especially the gospels, the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, ecclesiastical dictums, and decisions of the Church councils.

Justin (Martyr), St.

Philosopher, theologian, early apologist, martyr
Convert to Christianity
Place and dates
(Rome) 100-165
Apologies for the Christians: erudite defense of Christians against charges of atheism and sedition
Dialogue with Trypho the Jew: a record of an actual discussion at Ephesus; valuable information about 2nd century Christian Church

Irenaeus, St.

Heard the preaching of Polycarp the disciple of John the Evangelist
Appointed the bishop of Lyon (177)
Place and dates
(Asia Minor) 140?-202?
Against the Heresies: written against the Gnostics; contributed to the knowledge of Gnosticism

Clement of Alexandria

Greek theologian
Converted from paganism
Ordained a presbyter
A teacher of Origen
Place and dates
(Athens) 150?-215?
Hortatory Address to the Greeks: a defense of the faith
The Tutor: instruction in manners and morals
The Miscellanies: a discussion of various points of doctrinal theology designed to guide the mature Christian to perfect knowledge


Converted to Christianity between 190 and 195
Became a presbyter of the Church (197)
Zealous champion of Christianity
Profoundly influences later Church fathers
Embraced and became a leader of the Montanists (207?) a sect later declared heretical
Place and dates
(Rome) 160?-220?
Apologeticus (c. 197): his most famous work; a defense of Christians against pagan charges
On the Claims of Heretics: argues that the Church alone has the authority to declare what is and is not orthodox Christianity
On Baptism
On Prayer: throws light on contemporary religious practices


A student of Clement
Ordained a presbyter
The most accomplished biblical scholar of the early Church
Father of the allegorical method of scripture interpretation
He developed the idea of Christ as Logos or Incarnate Word
Place and dates
(Alexandria) 185?-254?
Against Celsus: closely reasoned apologetic work refuting the arguments advanced by the Celsus, the first serious critic of Christianity

Cyprian, St.

Convert to Christianity c. 245
Bishop of Carthage, 248
One of the most authoritative Fathers of the Church
Involved in controversy over treatment of those who had left the Church, and those who were baptized by heretics: accepted the teaching of Rome.
Place and dates
(Carthage) 200-258
On Unity of the Catholic Church: exposition of the hierarchical organization of the Church

Athanasius, St.

Played a prominent role in the theological struggle in the Council of Nicea (325)
Opposed Arius (256-336) who maintained that the Son was of a different substance from that of the Father, and was merely a creature
Formulated the "homousian doctrine" that the Son of God is the same essence of substance of the Father
Became bishop of Alexandria (328)
Place and dates
(Alexandria) 293-373
Discourses Against the Arians
History of the Arians
Apology Against the Arians
On the Decrees of the Nicene Synod

Cyril of Jerusalem

Bishop of Jerusalem in 351
Embroiled in controversy over episcopal duties
Place and dates
(Jerusalem) 315?-387?
23 Treatises: addressed to catechumens and newly baptized; some treatises are doctrinal and present the creed of the Church; some are concerned with ritual and present a detailed account of Baptism, Eucharist and chrism

Basil, St.

Brother of Gregory of Nyssa and a friend of Gregory of Nazianzus
Patriarch of Eastern monasticism
Wrote a rule of the monastic way of life
Founded the Basilian monks (360)
Bishop of Caesarea (370).
Place and dates
(Caesarea Mazaca) 329?-379
Against Eunomius: written against the Arian leader Eunomius
On the Holy Spirit: a doctrinal treatise
Moralia: an anthology of New Testament verses
Liturgy of St. Basil

Gregory of Nazianzus, St.

Bishop of Sasima (371)
Took charge of the Nicene congregation of Constantinople where he delivered five discourses on the Trinity that earned him fame as "The Theologian"
Place and dates
(Nazianzus in Capadocia, now Turkey) 329?-389
Philokalia (Love of the Beautiful): an anthology of the writings of Origen

Gregory of Nyssa, St.

Bishop of Milan (374)
Fame is chiefly as a theologian
Place and dates
(Neocaesarea, now in Turkey) 335?-394
Against Eunomius: a defense of the Nicene Creed
Great Catechetical Discourse: a defense of the Christian faith against Jews and pagans
On Faith: a treatise against the Arians
Ten Syllogisms: directed against the Apollinarists

Ambrose, St.

Bishop of Milan (374)
Defended the churches of Milan against Arianism
Friend of Monica, mother of Augustine, and finally brought Augustine into the Church
Place and dates
(Tier, now in Germany) 340?-397
On Faith: a Christian morals manual
On the Sacraments: an exegetical treatise
On the Holy Spirit: an exegetical treatise
Composed many hymns

Jerome, St.

Biblical scholar
Ordained a priest in 386
Secretary to Pope Damasus I in 382
Confronted many heresies, especially Pelagianism
Place and dates
(Stridon, present day Slovenia) 345?-419
The Vulgate: translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, 383-384, in Rome

John Chrysostom, St.

Ordained a priest in 386
Greatest orator of the early Church
Patriarch of Constantinople in 398
Place and dates
(Antioch, Syria) 349?-407
On the Priesthood
Wrote commentaries, epistles, treatises, and liturgies

Augustine, St.

Son of Monica (332?-387)
Born a pagan
Converted in 387 and baptized by Ambrose
Ordained a priest in 391
Bishop of Hippo (395)
Combated Manichean heresy (conflict of Good and Evil)
Martin Luther and John Calvin were close students of the works of Augustine
Place and dates
(Numidia, now Algeria) 354-430
Confessions (c. 400): his autobiography
The City of God (413-426): great Christian apologia; a theological philosophy of history
Retractions (428): final verdict of earlier works
Epistles (386-429)
On Free Will (388-395)
On Christian Doctrine (397)
On Baptism: Against the Donatists (400)
On the Trinity (400-416)
On Nature and Grace (415)

Cyril of Alexandria, St.

Patriarch of Alexandria in 412
Leader of the Council of Ephesus, 431
Instrumental in condemning Nestorianism
Place and dates
(Alexandria) 376-444
Against Nestorius
Against Julian the Apostate
Prolific writer

Gregory I, St. ("The Great")

Prefect of Rome in 570
Became a monk in 575
Elected pope (r. 590-604)
Enhanced prestige of the papacy
Upheld Rome's traditional claims of church primacy over the patriarch of Constantinople
Introduced liturgical reforms and Gregorian chant
Extensive pastoral activity.
Place and dates
(Rome) 540?-604
Moralia: a commentary on the Book of Job
Pastoral Care: describes the ideal bishop; instruction on the practice and nature of preaching
Dialogues: legends of saints of his own time

John Damascene, St.

Financial officer to Saracen caliph
Resigned in 700
Entered a monastery and ordained a priest
Opposed the Iconoclasts
Place and dates
(Damascus, Syria) 675-749
Source of Knowledge: three part text of dogmatic theology in the early Greek church; contains a complete theological system based on the early Greek fathers and synods of 4th-7th centuries

Previous Chapter Previous Section Next Section Next Chapter

Beginning of Chapter Table of Contents Book Home Page

By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-2004, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Email comments to

Last Updated: July 16, 2004