Church Fathers

As a Father of the Church (from the Latin pater ecclesiae to Greek πατήρ εκκλησιάστικος Father ekklēsiástikos ) a Christian author of the first eight centuries is called, has contributed significantly to the teaching and self- understanding of Christianity and is its life as saintly.

  • 3.1 Church Fathers of the 2nd century
  • 3.2 Fathers of the 3rd century
  • 3.3 Fathers of the 4th century
  • 3.4 Church Fathers of the fifth century
  • 3.5 Fathers of the 6th century
  • 3.6 Fathers of the 7th century
  • 3.7 Fathers of the 8th century
  • 3.8 later time

The concept

The season of the Church Fathers is commonly defined sliding. Formally, it is a place where authors are not themselves involved in the production of New Testament and early Christian writings, but already begin to comment on these writings. The end of this period coincides with the Late Antiquity - Fathers of the Church are now even to the literary source and authority of theological decision.


From the Orthodox Church are all major Christian authors in their field, even those expected from modern times to the present day to the Church Fathers, with respect to orthodoxy is required no totality. Only a very few of the Church Fathers are recognized as error-free in their traditional teachings. A special role is played here by authors of the Orthodox canon law, which include the most classic Greek Fathers: Dionysius of Alexandria, Gregory of Neocaesarea, Athanasius the Great, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzus, Amphilochius, Timothy of Alexandria, Theophilus of Alexandria, Cyril of Alexandria, Genadius of Constantinople Opel, John IV ( Patriarch ), Tarasius of Constantinople Opel and Nicephorus the Confessor. Even John Chrysostom, the founder of the Chrysostomosliturgie is, next to Saint Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the Three Holy Hierarchs (see also below).

Protestant Theology

The Protestant theology knows a concept of the church father not in the sense that the church fathers come as authorities in addition to the Bible. The church fathers are the fathers and mothers subsumed in faith.

Catholic criteria for the Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church and ecclesiastical writers

  • Antiquitas: to the 8th century, that is, until the death of John of Damascus 754 in the East or in the West Isidore of Seville 636. Partly also Ildefonso of Toledo ( 669 ) and the Venerable Bede ( 735 ) are called fathers.
  • Orthodoxa doctrina: the fathers are regarded as witnesses to the unity of faith and keepers of the revelation because she quotes from a general council or in public, addressed to the church documents of popes or of some of the more well-known church fathers as authority of faith or in the first centuries were read publicly in churches. This does not exclude that there are inaccuracies in the expression, or that they have not yet fully understood theologically certain points of faith, but means that the fathers did not write heretical or schismatic or works with serious substantive deficiencies; that is, not complete inerrancy, but faithful teaching communion with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
  • Sanctitas: canonized or considered sacred in the sense of early Christian veneration of saints
  • Ecclesiae declaratio: from ecclesiastical negotiations and rallies is implied

One of the great church fathers are counted in the Orient Athanasius, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus and John Chrysostom. In the West ( Occident ) Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great are among them.

In contrast, not all teachers of the Church, the feature of antiquitas on, but the other features of the eminens eruditio (outstanding education) and the expressa ecclesiae declaratio. The five criteria for this group are:

  • Orthodoxa doctrina: see above
  • Eminens doctrina: significant doctrinal statements
  • Expressa ecclesiae declaratio: explicitly canonized by the Catholic Church
  • Eminens eruditio: outstanding education

In the West, the above great Fathers and Hilary of Poitiers, Peter Chrysologus, Leo the Great, Isidore of Seville, Athanasius and St. Basil later, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Peter Canisius, Robert Bellarmine were appointed on this basis to teachers of the church, Francis de Sales, Alphonsus Liguori, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena and Therese of Lisieux. On Sunday, October 7, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI. Saint John of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen applicable to teachers of the church.

A third group is referred to by the Catholic Church as an ecclesiastical writers; these are authors who are true antique but not orthodox or sacred. This group includes Origen and Tertullian.

Church Fathers in art

In the Western art in particular, two groups of four are shown (see Doctor of the Church ):

  • The Greek Fathers John Chrysostom, St. Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Athanasius of Alexandria
  • The Latin Church Fathers Gregory the Great, St. Jerome as a cardinal and the bishops Augustine of Hippo and Ambrose of Milan

A rarely represented group of four, which is in a certain relation to the Church Fathers, who are "Four philosophers ".

Known representations especially of the Latin Fathers of the Church can be found on pulpits, such as the Gothic pulpit in Vienna's Stephansdom. On the pulpit are the portraits of the four Fathers of the Church, Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory the Great and St. Jerome, at the same time symbolize the four temperaments and the four ages.

Significant Church Fathers

Church Fathers of the 2nd century

  • The Apostolic Fathers, about 80-150 AD Clement of Rome
  • Papias of Hierapolis
  • Ignatius of Antioch
  • Polycarp of Smyrna
  • Hermas

Fathers of the 3rd century

  • Origen ( problematic )
  • Tertullian ( problematic )
  • Clement of Alexandria
  • Cyprian of Carthage
  • Hippolytus of Rome
  • Minucius Felix

Fathers of the 4th century

  • Eusebius of Caesarea
  • Athanasius of Alexandria
  • Cyril of Jerusalem
  • Basil of Caesarea
  • Gregory of Nazianzus
  • Gregory of Nyssa
  • Ephraem the Syrian
  • Aphraates the way
  • John Chrysostom
  • Hilary of Poitiers
  • Ambrose of Milan
  • Jerome
  • Augustine of Hippo
  • Nemesius of Emesa
  • Arnobius the Elder
  • Lactantius
  • Marius Victorinus
  • Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius
  • Zeno of Verona
  • Julius Maternus Firmicus

Church Fathers of the fifth century

Fathers of the 6th century

  • Gregory the Great

Fathers of the 7th century

  • Maximus the Confessor
  • Isidore of Seville

Fathers of the 8th century

  • John of Damascus

Later time

  • Photius (only Orthodox Church)
  • Simeon the New Theologian
  • Gregory Palamas (only Orthodox Church)
  • Mark of Ephesus (only Orthodox Church)