A CRITICAL HISTORY
FROM THE DEATH OF THE APOSTLES TO
THE NICENE COUNCIL.
JAMES DONALDSON, M.A.
MACMILLAN AND CO.
The Apostolical Fathers.
The Apologists. Continued.
Besides the interest which the writings of the early Christians possess for the student of history and for the Christian, they have also strong claims to the study of the philosopher and the scholar.
The early Christian writers frequently discuss the philosophical opinions of previous heathen thinkers. Their works are therefore necessary to the historian of Greek philosophy. Thus Eusebius has preserved many fragments of the Stoics not to be found elsewhere. Besides, several of them were philosophers themselves. When they were such, I give an exposition of their peculiar ideas in the sections which treat of their character and merits. Philosophy occupies ever a more and more prominent place in Christian writings and thought, as we advance from the Apostolic days; and the intermixture of philosophy with religion in those times has received and is receiving a good deal of attention from scholars. There are three works especially devoted to the philosophy of the Fathers : volume fifth of Ritter’s Geschichte der Philosophie; A. Stockl’s Geschichte der Philosophic in der patristischen Zeit, a Roman Catholic work ; and Die Philosophie der Kirchenvater, von Dr. Johannes Huber, Munchen 1859.
A knowledge of the early Christian writers is also of great importance to the scholar. The works of Clemens Alexandrinus are a storehouse of fragments of the Greek comic writers. They contain also curious information with regard to the mysteries, as do those of some others. And indeed both in regard to the Greek and Roman religions the writings of the early Christians are invaluable. They were enabled from their position to see many things which heathens never thought of observing.
We also derive from them, and especially from Tertullian and Clemens Alexandrinus, much information in regard to heathen manners and customs. We have sometimes important literary notices in them ; and in one of them, Tatian, considerable light is thrown on the history of ancient art.