What did the early Apostolic Fathers contribute to the church? Questions for Discussion: Lesson 3A – Chapter Two “The Apostolic Fathers Explain the Way” from The Story of Christian Theology by Roger Olson
- What do we know of Paul , James, or John’s influence on the Apostolic Fathers? In particular, how was Polycarp influenced by the Apostles?
- What does the impact of these Apostles on the Apostolic Fathers tell us about the theological activities of the Church leadership at the time of the Fathers?
- What was Clement’s (Clement of Rome that is not Clement of Alexandria who we will study later) contribution to the Church of his period?
- How does Clement line up theologically with Paul?
- The Didache was a widely read work. Why? What might we find strange in it today and what would seem orthodox?
- How did Ignatius combat the Gnostic Christology? How would you summarize his Christology?
- Discussing the Shepherd of Hermas, Olson points out that it “came closest” to being included in the canon of the New Testament? Why do you think this was the case? Why do you think the Shepherd was finally rejected?
- What does the Epistle of Barnabas tell us about the moral theology and the hermeneutics of Old Testament study that shaped its author?
- What were the strengths and weaknesses of the men we identify as the Apostolic Fathers?
See Lesson 3B for Correlated Readings
Selections from The Didache, Polycarp’s Epistle to the Phillipians, and Ignatius’ Epistle to the Ephesians
Bible Verses for Reflection