What "Early Church Fathers' " documents have been forged?


From my surfing of the web, I have come across this claim. In so much that even the CC has admitted to such forgeries. Is this correct and if so to what extend?


Please show us a source for this so that we might answer the charge.



And NOT WIKIPEDIA, please :smiley:


Yeah, I started taking Wikipedia with not just a grain–but a whole pound–of salt after I realized the ease of editing of it immediately after His Holiness Pope Benedict’s election–someone had replaced HH Benedict’s photo on the page about the Holy Father with that of Darth Vader. Wikipedia is a tad lacking in the credibility department because anyone can edit it.

Show us some reputable sources.



Are you talking about a page that looks similar to this:

Topical Selection of …
What did early Christians believe?
(Before 500AD)
Uninspired records of how early Christians worshipped and what doctrine they believed!
Important note: This collection of quotations are from early Christians who wrote prior to 400 AD. These writings are not inspired. They are not part of the Bible. They are absolutely not authoritative in determining doctrine. ONLY THE BIBLE, (sola scriptura) is authoritative and inspired. The Bible is our sole guide. However, these quotes do contain an interesting snapshot of the doctrine early Christians believed after the apostolic age. All quotes are sorted by date. But one final warning. Like the Muslim Hadith, there are forgeries within what Christians commonly call the, “Early Church Fathers”. Some of the forgeries are obvious, but for others, we really cannot be sure what is forgery and what is genuine.

This is a site that I was talking about in an earlier thread. The site is a joke and all of us should have a heart to heart talk with them. If they turn their ears away, we must depart and “kick the dust off of our feet.”

Honestly though, they need help.


I apologize the for large letters in my reply. I tried changing them to smaller size with no success. Very very sorry!


[quote=malachi_a_serva]From my surfing of the web, I have come across this claim. In so much that even the CC has admitted to such forgeries. Is this correct and if so to what extend?

There were certainly plenty of documents which were alleged to be by particular authors, and were not.

It may be that some of what would be modern standards reckoned as forgery - i.e., the deliberate attempt to palm off as anothers what was not his work at all - should be considered as writing what the author ought to have written, or might have written, had he been living in the real writer’s circumstances; for example, the six non-Ignatian letters found in some collections of the letters of St.Ignatius of Antioch, and written perhaps about 400 or so.

The “Decretals” attributed to the Roman Bishops of the first three centuries, may be of this kind; and the “Donation of Constantine”, and the “Pseudo-Isidorian” literature. There are letters which were fathered on St. Augustine and St. Jerome, both of which played a part in the history of ideas about the BVM.

Presumably the “NT Apocrypha” is of this kind, in part at least: The “Acts of Paul” were, it is said, written in his honour.

Many writings were misattributed - the “Summa Theologiae” regularly quotes a work of the less well-known Eusebius of Emesa as a work of Gregory of Nyssa; it also quotes the forged decretals in the discussion of the Mass. At some point a work in support of the Roman claims about the Papacy was passed off as being by Cyril of Alexandria - St. Thomas Aquinas accepted it is genuine, though not without misgivings. But misattribution is not the same as forgery; or rather, forgery is a specific type of misattribution.

The study of the Fathers involves a lot of discussion about who wrote what.

It’s important to avoid imposing modern notions of literary ethics on the past, because ideas about literary ownership and authorship have developed over time. ##


Could it be possible that monks and such updated the works of earlier fathers in order to preserve the writings that could’ve become damaged, brittle, burnt, etc? Maybe these same scribers didn’t have the exact text because of damages? There’s alot to look at when it comes to this subject. But it doesn’t change the fact that the early fathers were very much “catholic” as in being of one universal apolostolic church. They weren’t going all out and thumping their bibles, because there weren’t any. We have epistles from the earliest fathers, the apostles…we have epistles from their successors…we have epistles of the successors sucessors…etc. All in all, in the fulness of the faith, we have various records and writings from 2000 years of contribution from clergy in all ranks of the church. If we were seriously follow the ridiculous “sola scriptura” claim, than EVERY BIT OF WRITING AFTER THE APOSTLES IS GARBAGE, including what you see on this site, fundamentalist books and sites, evangelical writings, orthodox writings, anglican writings, etc. Those who follow Sola Scriptura should not even think about quoting Billy Grahm or even Martin Luther. It’s complete hypocracy to make such a claim, isn’t it!? Our Church, the catholic Church has records of writings for 2000 years, all of which closely reflect one another and explain certain aspects of the faith more clearly through the paraclete, also know as the Holy Spirit. We read such things as the Vatican II document(s) and such because we want to understand our faith more deeply. We read early church fathers to understand how they thought and understood the teachings of Jesus through his apostles and in turn through themselves solidify the single Church founded by Jesus Christ. Do we hold the early writings in high regard? Sure! Do we put them on the same level of the Gospels and Epistles? No. But they do serve their importance and reflect the truths of the Bible in which our very Church brought us. When do we put an end to the writings of Church Fathers, clergy and even laypersons? We don’t! We read and read and read because we are more educated in the modern world. But being more educated doesn’t mean that we’ve become more pious. In a way, I wish I could’ve been a catholic earlier in history. At least I wouldn’t have to cringe and nearly cry everytime I see a “heretical” statement made on TV, in a magazine, in a book, in a newspaper, etc! I feel overwhelmed because I want to make a huge change in the non-catholic and secular minds of this world.

God, please grant us your mercy and peace. I promise to submit myself to your will…only show me your will. Amen.


There are a couple of forged documents that spring to mind. I understand one of them was the lineage of the Popes maybe. The reason its still used, is even though the document itself is a forgery (someone claimed to have compiled it, but it was someone else), the information is accurate, as the Church has several other documents corroborating the lineage.

Another one had to do with the Papacy and its authority in the early centuries, also a forgery. I’m having to scrape off the cobwebs just to get this much information, but I’ll see tomorrow if I can find the sources.

Take Care!



OK, I finally found a site that addressess this, and yes, it was on “Catholic Answers” of course!

The article is interesting.

Here’s part of it:

In short, there is no reason to suspect the papacy to be the forgery factory conjured up in the minds of anti-Catholic apologists. If many, including popes, presumed the veracity of the False Decretals for a time, it was because the documents in many respects corresponded to the already long-accepted reality of the primacy and infallibility of the popes. Furthermore, no doctrinal error may be inferred from the fact that False Decretals were quoted by popes, since papal infallibility applies to definitions on faith and morals, not to judgments about the authenticity of documents. The important point is that none of the forgeries served as the basis for a single doctrine regarding the papacy. The doctrines came first, the forgeries long centuries later.

Take Care!



Forgories huh? It’s pretty bad then if even the NIV of the Bible talks about certain new testament passages that are found in some ancient Greek manuscripts and others they are not. Such passages are: where Jesus saves the woman from public stoning in the Gospel of John, and the ending of the Gospel according to Mark; there is a shorter version and a longer version. The longer version (only about a paragraph) has been the accepted version by both Catholics and Non-Catholic Christians. Just because some ancient texts of the NT have more verses then others does not invalidate NT from being inspired writings based on the tradition of the Apostles (St. Mark was not an Apostle, he wrote his gospel based on the tradition he had recieved.)

In the same sense the Church Fathers are writing about the tradition they recieved. Some of the Early Church Fathers, such as St. Polycarp and St. Igantius of Antioch also recieved instruction from the Apostles, just like St. Mark. The writings of the Church Fathers used by Catholic Answers are also deemed authentic writings by Non-Catholic Christian Scholars.


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