Church History

I’ve seen many quotes attributed to early church fathers in the 3rd century. Are there any writings from early church fathers in the 2nd century and earlier (post-NT)?

1 Clement, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (against heresies) are worth a read. Also Polycarp.

Whoops! Forgot Ignatius.

Go wild:

Oh boy, if you’re asking this question - you’re in for a treat!

I’ve started reading these early Church writings - such a wonderful treasure for us.

dronald pointed to Clement - that’s around 80AD - when the Apostle St. John was still alive.

Justin Martyr’s writing was something like 130AD, I believe. He is explaining what we call the Mass to civil authorities.


Don’t forget the Didache, possibly written before some parts of the NT.

Could anyone even begin to fathom why I would be yelled at for even mentioning the Didache, much less reading it?
I am very serious. I was admonished for wanting to learn more of it.

Who yelled at you about this, and in what circumstances? :S

Who were you yelled at by? I can think of a few reasons, depending on who did the yelling. BTW, you should read it.

Others have pointed out some. Don’t forget why there are fewer writings from the early days. The Romans spent their times burning the writings and the Christians or feeding them to the lions.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library is superb!!

No idea, unless they were non Catholic sola scriptura believers. But otherwise, doesnt the Catechism cite the Didache in places??

“Against Heresies”-Irenaeus of Lyon

Go to, in the Church Fathers section.

One good book is The teaching of the Catholic Fathers by John R. Willis SJ it has a lot of 2nd century writings you might be interested in.


I got that one!! Great for quick referencing because the passages are cited according to subjects not so much according to chronology. So if you were wanting some passages about the primacy of the Papacy you will get excerpts from several different ECF’s on that subject.

Highly recommend it.

Fairly sure it does. And no, not a non Catholic. Imagine my confusion.

Anther great resource is “The Faith of the Early Fathers” by William A. Jurgens. This is a 3-volume work. What I think makes it great is the Doctrinal Index – it lists writings by specific topic - Eucharist, Penance, Mary, Sacraments, etc.


That is an easy read too!


read it, in fact. :thumbsup:

First, Books which were once considered for NT but never made it in the end
1 Clement - oldest Christian letter outside NT
Shepherd of Hermas
Letter of Barnabas
Letter to Diognetus

Secondly, other writings of the Apostolic Fathers
2 Clement - unlikely to be by Clement but still the oldest sermon outside of NT
Ignatius - seven letters
Polycarp - one letter plus one martyrdom

Thirdly, Eight Fathers of the Church
Ambrose - a few sermons plus lots of commentaries
Augustine - start with Confessions, move on to his commentaries, then City of God
Jerome - commentaries
Gregory - sermons plus an excellent Rule for Pastors
John Chrystostom - lots of wonderful sermons
Gregory of Nazianen, Basil & Anathasius - Eastern fathers whom I haven’t yet have the pleasure of reading

Fourthly, Other church Fathers
Irenaeus - Against Heresies
Justin - Apology
Origen & Tertulian - some interesting works but died not in communion with the Church
Leo - his Tome that intervened at Council of Ephesus.

The full list of Church Fathers is far longer than these. These are only the more accessible works (ie., more easily found and commonly referenced by other writings)

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