Early Christian Writers 40-200

The table below is patterned after a figure in Svigel: 2006 and puts a graphic perspective the fact that the teachings of the church were handed down in an organized fashion. We read in II Timothy 2.2: "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." The pastoral epistles which are some of the later writings in the New Testament, generally present a notion that the faith must be handed down and in a careful fashion.

There were, no doubt, more people involved in the early church than are shown in the figure. There were certainly more writings than those that have survived for us. From what has come down to us we can show a continuous succession of writers defending Christianity. Critics complain that this material was preserved by the Church which is doubtless true. Monasteries were the center for learning and scholarship for many years and the scholars there also preserved much of classic Greek literature that we have today. That this fact should condemn the Christian writings as not historical or biased is overstated at best as the example of the Greek classics would indicate. Some today claim that the early church destroyed the writings of the alternative 'Christianities.' But we do have some Gnostic writings that are dated by some between 125-225. While it is true that there were purges of heretical literature it seems more likely that in the main the church just failed to preserve the writings of opposing groups.  (The preservation of that  material would actually be the job of the opposing group. The Christian Church today does not strive to preserve the Hindu scriptures.) A quick read through the material on tehse writers will be enough to demonstrate that even much of the early orthodox writings were not preserved. Copying books by hand was the only way to preserve them and is quite a laborious process. It should be noted that the folks that were engaged in this copying were skilled professionals and did a much better job than you or I would. Add to that political instability and wars and it is rather amazing that we have the material that we do.

Primary Region

Church leaders
with approximate dates of birth and death
Syria   Ignatius of Antioch ( c. 35-110)   Theophilus of Antioch (c. 115-190)    
                                            Tatian (died c. 185)      
Asia Minor The Apostle John (died c. 95)                                            
            Polycarp of Smyrna (c 65-155)                    
                                    Polycrates of Ephesus (c. 130-196)      
                Papias of Hierapolis (c. 70-155)                    
                                Melito of Sardis (c. 110-190)    
Greece                     Aristides of Athens (c. 80-140)                        
                                    Athenagoras of Athens (c. 120-190)    
Rome   Clement of Rome (c. 35-100)     Justin Martyr (c. 110-165)                  
Gaul                                     Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 120-200)
Egypt                                                   Clement of Alexandria (d 211-216)
Unknown                                 Hegesippus ( c. 110-180)        
Multiple Regions The Apostle Peter 
(died c. 67)
The Apostle Paul
(died c. 67)
Year (AD) 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200