Ignatius and the Apostolic Fathers

Authored by: Clayton N. Jefford

The Routledge Companion to Early Christian Thought

Print publication date:  December  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415442251
eBook ISBN: 9780203864517
Adobe ISBN: 9781135193430


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The collection of early patristic writings that historians now classify under the title of Apostolic Fathers offers us a unique glimpse into the early church as it came to identify itself as a community of faith after the passing of the apostles.1 These assorted texts represent a variety of Christian voices that spoke throughout the Roman world for almost a hundred years, beginning in the last quarter of the first century. We are fortunate to know some of their authors by name (Papias of Hierapolis, Clement of Rome, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Ignatius of Antioch) and to recognize them in their role as leaders of the earliest post-apostolic church. At the same time, the identity of other authors has been lost, though it is clear from their contributions that they too added prominently to the ecclesiastical deliberations that shaped the evolving framework of the institutional church.

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