Just the other day I was asked why I thought the Bible—specifically, the New Testament as we have it today—is too small. “Too small?” I asked. “What do you mean?” My acquaintance had some vague recollection of watching a History Channel documentary that apparently showed that the mighty church (male dominated, of course) sought to suppress a large part of the early church, labeling them “gnostic heretics.” The writings that the gnostics treasured were secret gospels that may have been earlier even than the canonical Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But they were left out because self-appointed heresy hunters didn’t like their critiques of “orthodoxy” and so deprived the church of their inspiring spiritual books. This sort of conversation can be multiplied. You’ve probably encountered it.
With the release of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code in 2004, The Independent ran a spirited piece with the headline “The Secret World of the New Gnostics,” pointing out that the runaway best-seller “is just the latest triumph for an obscure, 2000-year-old Christian sect.” Longtime scholar of Gnosticism Elaine Pagels is quoted as saying that the popularity of Brown’s book is due to the questions it raises about whether church officialdom excluded as heretical an entirely legitimate movement within early Christianity. “So Gnosticism has a very timely revolutionary appeal—the chance of achieving a sense of the spiritual, through a time-honoured channel, without the need for flawed churches and institutions.”1 In an era of ecclesiastical secrecy and abuses of ecclesiastical power, fictional novels such as The DaVinci Code encourage our inner skeptic. Add to that the growing “spiritual, not religious” trend that actually is rather close to ancient Gnosticism and you have the perfect storm. Not the church, but the groups it persecuted, turn out to be the true heirs of the original Jesus movement.
Gnostics old and new don’t like the God of the Bible, the God who created the world and everything in it, setting boundaries and establishing creation’s physical and moral laws. In fact, their God—their Savior, as they called him—saves them from the supposedly malign and jealous God of the Bible. The true church is only spiritual, without any special offices; the physical rites of baptism and the Supper were seen as corrupt and were exchanged for spiritual exercises to help one see one’s inner divinity and unity with the All. Sounds pretty contemporary, doesn’t it? In fact, a lot of academic studies in early Christianity and Gnosticism today are driven by the agendas of scholars who abandoned what they saw as confining and dogmatic forms of Christianity in favor of a spirituality closer to what we might call the New Age movement.
So, it’s not surprising that unlike most academic trends, this one goes immediately to the street. At least in popular culture, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and the Gospel of Mary are the best-known gems of so-called gnostic literature. Fueled by television documentaries, novels, and nearly fictional scholarship, the assumption is widespread that these are recently discovered “lost gospels” weeded out by ancient and secretive ecclesiocrats. Yet none of these texts was composed in the first century, and only a few were unknown to us prior to the Nag Hammadi discovery in 1945. Irenaeus and other church fathers quoted from them extensively in order to expose and refute their errors. But there was no centralized church hierarchy. There weren’t even bishops until the end of the second century. The truth won out because there was a canon—meaning “rule,” like a yardstick—and that canon was the New Testament. There is no other explanation, historically speaking, for the survival of genuine Christianity.
A Working Canon with a Few Disputed Texts
My Mormon friends insist that “orthodoxy” was invented in AD 325 at the Council of Nicaea, presided over by the emperor Constantine. That’s a perfect picture if you want to invent a new religion and say that the “orthodox” are actually “heretics” and vice versa. This is the same approach that is presupposed by our contemporary culture—academics, journalists, and spirituality inclined entertainers, not to mention many liberal pastors and theologians. However, there was no powerful, centralized, and hierarchical church when orthodoxy emerged. There was no pope backed by imperial power. In fact, there weren’t even bishops, but presbyters (pastors and elders) meeting in local and broader assemblies.2 And Irenaeus, the supposed “persecutor” of the gnostics, was actually a pastor in Gaul (France) when persecution slaughtered most Christians in the area.
So how did the church survive and repel the threat of becoming swallowed by Gnosticism? There were all sorts of debates over matters such as the dating of Easter, but there was a core canon that was read publicly in all the churches and used as the final authority in doctrinal and ethical disputes. In his Easter Letter of 367, Athanasius provided a list of all twenty-seven New Testament books as we have them today, even identifying it as a canon, adding that “holy Scripture is of all things most sufficient for us.”3 However, he was simply issuing a pastoral warning to avoid foreign texts. By his time, the churches were quite aware of their core canon, even if there had been questions about a few texts along the way (e.g., Hebrews, 2 Peter, James, and Revelation).4
It is important to point out that the New Testament didn’t fall from the sky. It was not imposed on the church as a catalogue of timeless doctrines and commands, as Muhammad later claimed for the Qur’an. Rather, it emerged from the gospel, a historical event that promised nothing less than salvation from sin and death and a new creation. The Gospel writers were evangelists, providing eyewitness testimony to God’s act of redemption in his incarnate Son, Jesus the Messiah. Picking up the story at Jesus’ ascension and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the book of Acts reports the spread of this gospel, and the Epistles unpack its significance for us. Even the ethical commands are grounded in the good news that the new covenant is now a reality even in this present evil age. The book of Revelation comforts persecuted saints with the assurance that Jesus wins in the end: “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (Rev. 12:11). The earliest nucleus of this gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, where Paul states,
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
The fact that Paul, writing in the early 50s, says he received this formula (probably from the Jerusalem apostles) indicates that he intended to spread its fame as a laconic creed for the whole church. Paul’s conversion is dated at around AD 33–35, followed by his first visit to the church in Jerusalem “after three years” (Gal. 1:18). Even the most critical scholars agree that the Jerusalem creed that Paul quotes goes back to within one to three years of the crucifixion.5 In fact, it represents “the very early tradition that was common to all Christians.”6 So right from the beginning, the core of Christian orthodoxy was settled, and the gnostics took aim not at secondary matters but at this heart of the faith held by the first believers. Moreover, Paul’s writings are counted in 2 Peter 3:16 among “the other scriptures” (τὰς λοιπὰς γραφὰς), and Paul already quotes Luke as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 9:9.
Passages from Old and New Testaments are quoted as “holy Scripture” by Polycarp (AD 69–155), a disciple of John.7 The same point is made in 2 Clement 2:1–4 (Mark 2:17 or Matt. 9:13 introduced by graphē legei) and Barnabus 4:14 (Matt. 22:14 or 20:16 as hōs gegrapptai). Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, spoke of the “fourfold gospel,” highlighting the unity of the four Gospels, and he quoted from most of the New Testament as his final court of appeals against the heretics.
The gnostics like secrets, but the church proclaims a public gospel. The Christian appeals to a canon written by the apostles, not by unnamed authors with an overactive imagination. Irenaeus said,
We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.8
While the gnostics speak of a tradition handed down orally, Christians appeal to the tradition handed down by the apostles—in other words, the Scriptures.9
Dated traditionally to 170, the Muratorian fragment provides a list of canonical Scripture.10 Other supposed letters of Paul addressed to the Laodiceans and the Alexandrians are “forged in Paul’s name to [further] the heresy of Marcion.” As the fragment illustrates, the criterion of a canonical book was whether it could be “publicly read in church.”11
The Word Creates and Norms the Church
When the American colonies declared independence, they were free but not yet organized into a distinct republic until the production of the United States Constitution. Christ’s kingdom is a monarchy, however, not a democracy. We did not achieve freedom, but our king won it for us. Yet not until there was a canon or constitution was the new covenant church given its distinct identity and norm. Jesus promised the apostles “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, [who] will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26) and “guide you into all truth” (16:13). The fulfillment of this promise by the risen Jesus at Pentecost is the basis for the unique authority of the New as well as the Old Testament. The Spirit creates faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23–25; James 1:18) and norms the church’s teaching and practice by the written scriptures as “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:16–17).
Thus the church fathers did not determine the canon but acknowledged it. And once recognized, it became the sole norm. Origen judged the rule of faith by “the canonical scriptures” (First Principles 4.4.6). He carefully distinguished throughout the definitive teaching of Scripture, which is not to be questioned, and his own opinions beyond their purview. We will understand the truth “if we listen to Paul’s words as the words of God,” he exhorted (4.3.8). Athanasius, for example, rejected the Shepherd of Hermas because, although it was widely read, it did not have adequate evidence of apostolic origin and did not bear the marks of belonging to the circle of the apostles themselves. Other church leaders agreed: Hermas simply lacked this qualification and was clearly different in substance from the canonical writings.12
With repeated appeals to Scripture—and to particular books that constituted it, a cursory glance at the post-apostolic fathers assures us that there was a source of unity around which Christian churches gathered. The late Princeton New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger put a fine point on the matter, concluding that “even if we lost all the Greek manuscripts and the early translations, we could still reproduce the contents of the New Testament from the multiplicity of quotations in commentaries, sermons, letters, and so forth of the early Church Fathers.”13
Not only was there a consensus about the writings that were canonical; the church fathers all considered Scripture, the Old and New Testaments, the sole norm for faith and practice. Tertullian (AD 160–220) insisted that “Scripture is the only means for refuting or validating a doctrine as regards its content.”14
Arguing against the gnostics, Tertullian appealed to Scripture as the norm: “But there is no evidence of this, because Scripture says nothing. . . . I do not admit what you advance of your own apart from Scripture.”15 Thus, like Irenaeus, he opposes the gnostics’ oral tradition to Scripture (a useful argument against Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox claims of oral tradition being equal to Scripture). They deny that Christ was born ex (of/from) the Virgin Mary and “substitute another for it in a sense not found throughout the Holy Scriptures.”16 Gnostics revel in the secrets of their supposed revelations that can be decoded only by the “spirituals.” By contrast, Tertullian said that Scripture itself is not obscure:
When you read you can have my same level of understanding of the mystery of Christ. . . . We have, however, put these opinions [of theirs] to the test, both of the arguments which sustain them and of the Scriptures which are appealed to, and this we have done abundantly; so that we have, by showing what the flesh of Christ was.17
Early on, the church fathers spoke of the “rule of faith” (i.e., the creed), which is none other than a summary of what Scripture teaches. In “The Prescription against Heretics,” Tertullian wrote,
Now, with regard to this rule of faith—that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend—it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is one only God, and that He is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through His own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called His Son, and, under the name of God, was seen “in diverse manners” by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and Power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ; thenceforth He preached the new law and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven, worked miracles; having been crucified, He rose again the third day; (then) having ascended into the heavens, He sat at the right hand of the Father; sent instead of Himself the Power of the Holy Ghost to lead such as believe; will come with glory to take the saints to the enjoyment of everlasting life and of the heavenly promises, and to condemn the wicked to everlasting fire, after the resurrection of both these classes shall have happened, together with the restoration of their flesh. This rule, as it will be proved, was taught by Christ, and raises amongst ourselves no other questions than those which heresies introduce, and which make men heretics.
The heretics are not judged so arbitrarily but are excluded from the communion of those “with whom lies that very faith to which the Scriptures belong.” “For wherever it shall be manifest that the true Christian rule and faith shall be, there will likewise be the true Scriptures and expositions thereof, and all the Christian traditions.”18
The key takeaway from such statements is that the true church is present wherever the true Scriptures are the rule for faith and practice. Elsewhere, Tertullian added that the heretics go beyond Scripture: “Let this suffice, because the Scriptures have told us so much.”
For even the apostle, to his declaration—which he makes not without feeling the weight of it—that “Christ died,” immediately adds, “according to the Scriptures,” in order that he may alleviate the harshness of the statement by the authority of the Scriptures, and so remove offence from the reader.19
What, therefore, did not exist, the Scripture was unable to mention; and by not mentioning it, it has given us a clear proof that there was no such thing: for if there had been, the Scripture would have mentioned it.20
The gnostics merely speculate, he added. However, “I revere the fullness of His Scripture. . . . If it is nowhere written, then let it fear the woe which impends on all who add to or take away from the written word.”21 Tertullian said he would follow only an interpretation “which has the authority of Scripture itself.”22
At the turn of the fourth century, Athanasius (296–373) listed all twenty-seven New Testament books, even calling them a “canon.” He added, “The holy and inspired Scriptures are fully sufficient for the proclamation of the truth.”23 Cyril of Jerusalem (310–386) exhorted,
This seal have thou ever on thy mind; which now by way of summary has been touched on in its heads, and if the Lord grant, shall hereafter be set forth according to our power, with Scripture proofs. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.24
Surely, Cyril would have had the same view of all the church fathers. However revered, they would have rejected outright any move to place their teaching on a par with Scripture. He confirmed this in the following:
But take thou and hold that faith only as a learner and in profession, which is by the Church delivered to thee and is established from all Scripture. For since all cannot read the Scripture, but some as being unlearned, others by business, are hindered from the knowledge of them; in order that the soul may not perish for lack of instruction, in the Articles which are few we comprehend the whole doctrine of Faith. . . . And for the present, commit to memory the Faith, merely listening to the words; and expect at the fitting season the proof of each of its parts from the Divine Scriptures. For the Articles of the Faith were not composed at the good pleasure of men: but the most important points chosen from all Scriptures, make up the one teaching of the Faith. And, as the mustard seed in a little grain contains many branches, thus also this Faith, in a few words, hath enfolded in its bosom the whole knowledge of godliness contained both in the Old and New Testaments. Behold, therefore, brethren and hold the traditions which ye now receive, and write them on the table of your hearts.25
Tradition is subordinate to Scripture. Similarly, according to Basil the Great (329–379),
If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the Word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth.26
In other words, Scripture always trumps tradition:
What is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to reject anything nor making additions. For, if “all that is not of faith is sin” as the Apostle says, and “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,” everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of faith, is sin.27
Basil added, “We are not content simply because this is the tradition of the Fathers. What is important is that the Fathers followed the meaning of the Scripture.”28 Gregory of Nyssa (330–395) concurred with this line of reasoning, concluding,
We are not entitled to such license, namely, of affirming whatever we please. For we make Sacred Scripture the rule and the norm of every doctrine. Upon that we are obliged to fix our eyes, and we approve only whatever can be brought into harmony with the intent of these writings.29
In this same period, Ambrose of Milan said, “I do not wish that credence be given us; let the Scripture be quoted. Not of myself do I say: ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ but I hear it; I do not feign but I read what we all read.”30 It is not surprising that so many go astray, he said, when human knowledge “has not submitted to the authority of the Scriptures.”31 Against the Donatists, Augustine (354–430) said,
Let them show their church if they can, not by the councils of their bishops, not by the writings of any of their champions, not by fraudulent signs and wonders, because we have been prepared and made cautious also against these things by the Word of the Lord; but let them show their church by a command of the Law, by the predictions of the prophets, by songs from the Psalms, by the words of the Shepherd Himself, by the preaching and labors of the evangelists; that is, by all the canonical authorities of the sacred books.32
Elsewhere he said, “For Holy Scripture sets a rule to our teaching, that we dare not ‘be wise more than it behooves to be wise,’ but be wise, as he says, ‘unto soberness, according as unto each God has allotted the measure of faith.’”33 John Chrysostom (347–407), the bishop of Constantinople, added his testimony:
Let us not therefore carry about the notions of the many, but examine into the facts. For how is it not absurd that in respect to money, indeed, we do not trust to others, but refer to [our own] calculation; but in calculating upon [theological] facts we are lightly drawn aside by the notions of others; and that too, though we possess an exact balance, and square and rule for all things, the declaration of the divine laws? Wherefore I exhort and entreat you all, disregard what this man and that man thinks about these things, and inquire from the Scriptures all these things; and having learned what are the true riches, let us pursue after them that we may obtain also the eternal good things.34
He added elsewhere, “Regarding the things I say, I should supply even the proofs, so I will not seem to rely on my own opinions, but rather, prove them with Scripture, so that the matter will remain certain and steadfast.”35
The Church Unified by Christ’s Canon
From a very early time, the essential doctrines of Scripture were summarized in a “rule of faith.” Although the exact wording varied, in substance all of these formulas were the same. What is therefore striking is how agreement in doctrine preceded emerging conformity in other respects. Although sharing the same elements of public worship (e.g., the reading, preaching, and singing of Scripture, confession and absolution, baptism and the Eucharist, and offerings for the poor), the churches were not united by one prescribed liturgy. And since Christians lacked a centralized religious office or capitol, or even intellectuals of a stature comparable to the philosophical schools, one must look elsewhere for a historical reason why the nascent Jesus community should not have fallen into fissiparous sects and dissipated. The unity was the canon, summarized by the “rule of faith” (regula fidei), especially the confession of Christ as made flesh for our salvation; in short, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).
Even while he and the other apostles were still living, Paul could exhort the Corinthian church to unity by the example of Apollos and himself, “that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another” (1 Cor. 4:6). On many matters, therefore, toleration of diversity could be accommodated and even welcomed, but not with respect to the canon or rule of faith. Indeed, the apostles themselves drew their authority from the single gospel they proclaimed (Gal. 1:8). There was not yet a unity of central organization, but there was a widely recognized communion around a set of beliefs and practices (especially preaching, prayer, baptism, and the Eucharist). “This unity was such that it was recognized even by those outside,” notes John Behr, “such as the pagan philosopher Celsus, who spoke of this community as the ‘Great Church.’”36
Irenaeus explained, “The church, though dispersed through the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith.” After offering a brief summary of the doctrine, he added,
As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. . . . For the churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth.37
Gnostics rejected it, Hellenistic philosophers lampooned it, and Christians embraced it. But all parties acknowledged “the church of the multitudes” as a well-defined communion. In short, then, whatever we call it—orthodoxy, the “great church,” or simply Christianity—was what both outsiders and insiders regarded as having been formed by the New Testament canon and summarized in the “rule of faith.”
Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California in Escondido.
- Peter Stanford, “The Secret World of the New Gnostics,” The Independent (March 18, 2004), https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/b... are many good reviews of Brown’s best-seller, including N. T. Wright, Decoding Da Vinci: The Challenge of Historical Christianity to Conspiracy and Fantasy, Grove Biblical Studies B39 (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2006).
- See the superb historical work of Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), esp. 385–97.
- Athanasius, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd ser. (NPNF2) (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 4:23.
- For the best studies on the development of the canon, see Charles E. Hill, Who Chose the Gospels?: Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Michael J. Kruger, Canon Revisited (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012); and The Question of Canon (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013).
- After careful argumentation, Jewish scholar Geza Vermes concludes that this pre-Pauline creed originated within one or two years of Jesus’ crucifixion. In The Resurrection of Jesus (London: Penguin, 2008), 121–22. Though a radical skeptic, Gerd Lüdemann agrees in The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2004), 39–82. See also the excellent studies by Larry W. Hurtado, especially Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).
- N. T. Wright, “Early Traditions and the Origins of Christianity,” http://ntwrightpage.com/2016/04/05/early-traditions-and-the-origins-of-christianity.
- See for example, Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians, ch. 12, in Ante-Nicene Fathers (ANF), vol 1: The Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, trans. and ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 35.
- Irenaeus, “Against Heresies,” 3:1.1, ANF, vol. 1, 414.
- Ellen Flessman-van Leer, Tradition and Scripture in the Early Church (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1953), 184, 133, 144.
- The New Testament consists of the four Gospels, Acts, all thirteen of Paul’s Epistles, Jude, 1 and 2 John, and Revelation. Hebrews, James, and 1 and 2 Peter are not included, while the book of Wisdom was adopted as part of the Old Testament (line 70).
- For an illuminating treatment of the Muratorian fragment, see Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 191–201.
- As Emil Brunner notes, this process was far from an arbitrary exercise of ecclesiastical power: “If we compare the writings of the New Testament with those of the subapostolic period [e.g., Epistle of Clement, Shepherd of Hermas], even those which are nearest in point of time, we cannot avoid the conclusion that there is a very great difference between the two groups; which was also the opinion of the fathers of the church.” Emil Brunner, Reason and Revelation, trans. Olive Wyon (London: SCM Press, 1947), 132.
- Bruce Metzger, Text of the New Testament: Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), 86.
- Flessman-van Leer, Tradition and Scripture in the Early Church, 184, 133, 144.
- Tertullian, “The Flesh of Christ,” in ANF, vol 3: Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; revised and chronologically arranged with brief prefaces and occasional notes by A. Cleveland Coxe (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1885), 521–44, esp. chs. 6–7.
- Tertullian, “The Flesh of Christ,” ch. 20.
- Tertullian, “The Flesh of Christ,” ch. 25.
- Tertullian, “The Prescription against Heretics,” chs. 13, 19.
- Tertullian, “Against Praxeas,” ch. 29.
- Tertullian, “Against Hermogenes,” ch. 20.
- Tertullian, “Against Hermogenes,” ch. 22.
- Tertullian, “Against Hermogenes,” ch. 31.
- Athanasius, “Against the Heathen,” 1:3, in NPNF2, 4:23.
- Cyril of Jerusalem, “Catechetical Lectures,” 4:17, in NPNF2 (repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 7:23 (emphasis added).
- Cyril of Jerusalem, “Catechetical Lectures,” lecture 5:12.
- Basil, “Letter 189” [“To Eustathius the Physician”], 3, in NPNF2, 8:229.
- Basil, “The Morals,” in NPNF2, Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1895), 8:204 (emphasis added).
- Basil, “The Holy Spirit,” in NPNF2, 7:16.
- Gregory of Nyssa, “On the Soul and the Resurrection,” qtd. in Jaroslav Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 50 (emphasis added).
- Saint Ambrose, “The Sacrament of the Incarnation of Our Lord,” The Fathers of the Church, vol. 44, 3:14 (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1963), 224.
- Saint Ambrose, “Of the Christian Faith,” 4:1, NPNF2 10:262.
- Augustine, “On the Unity of the Church,” 16, qtd. in Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part I (Saint Louis: Concordia, 1971), 159.
- Augustine, “On the Good of Widowhood,” 2, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1st ser. (NPNF1), 3:442 (the quotation is from Rom. 12:3).
- Chrysostom, “Homily 13 on 2 Corinthians,” in NPNF1, 12:346 (emphasis added).
- Chrysostom, “Homily 8 On Repentance and the Church,” The Fathers of the Church, 96:118.
- John Behr, Irenaeus of Lyons: Identifying Christianity, Christian Thought in Context (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 70.
- Irenaeus, “Against Heresies,” ANF, 10:1–2.