Is it beneficial to read books deemed "The Apostolic Fathers"?

I have been pondering getting a book with these writings, I believe some of them actually were in early manuscripts of the New Testament but didn’t make the final cut? In the end does the Catholic church have anything against us reading these books or does it view them as beneficial yet not equal to the books of the accepted Bible? Thanks.
The books in question are:
*The Epistle to Diognetus
*The First Epistle of Clement
*The Second Epistle of Clement
*The Didache
*The Epistle of Barnabas
*Seven epistles attributed to Ignatius of Antioch
*The Epistle of Polycarp
*The Martyrdom of Polycarp
*The Shepherd of Hermas

I think it is valuable to read the works of the early church fathers because they were closer to the original events of the time of Jesus and the very early church.

They can still teach us a lot about our faith and how Christianity developed in those early times. I think they are extremely interesting.

You have to beware not to be reading the works of the early heretics, so, if you are uncertain, given them a quite check up via the on-line Catholic Encyclopaedia or Wikipedia.

The writings of the Fathers can be an excellent tool in the toolbox for scripture study. Without a need to purchase commentaries, old or new, in addition to your bible, you can learn a lot by using the writings of the Church Fathers, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Church Documents (encyclicals, Vat II, etc.).

Peace and all good!


It has been a wonder as to why I was told, vehemently in fact, that the Didache should not be read at all. Dangerous in fact. :confused:

Told by whom??? That’s very bizarre. The Didache is nearly as old as the New Testament itself and is an excellent source of early Christian belief and practice. Its essentially the oldest catechism we have - probably dating to the late first century.

By a vehemently determined person who, with this info (and “well catechised”), made me determined to stop all talks of this kind.

I’d like to read the Fathers’. Too bad they are in storage. :smiley: Soon, soon…

There is actually some scholars who believe the Didache could be as old as 50 A.D. which would make it just as old if not older than the letters of Paul. This is not a concise agreement, some say 50 A.D., others say it could be 100 A.D, however with The Shepard of Hermas,and 1 Clement, some early manuscripts of the New Testament contained all. I personally believe the Apostolic Fathers should be included as an appendix to our bibles, mainly because they were at one time placed as scripture by early Christians. Even if we have a closed canon, having books as an appendix sort of as a paracanonical status has nothing wrong to it.

They’re very edifying to be read. They are not included in the canon of Scripture because they were not written by the first Apostolic generation (i.e. Apostles, Paul, Evangelists).

Also, to whoever said it is okay to read early heretic - most of the early “heretics” are not properly heretics in that they did not have sufficient knowledge because theology was yet to develop and/or most were not recalcitrant when corrected by legitimate authorities (e.g. Nestorius recanted, the accusations against Origen are baseless).

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