For Origen, however, knowledge of the Scripture was not enough. One needed to pray with Scripture and fall in love with Christ as a consequence.
Origen was the oldest son in a large Christian family. He was probably born in Alexandria itself, around 185 AD. His father Leonidas, who had taught him Scripture and secular subjects, was martyred in 202 AD. Origen himself had a passionate longing for martyrdom.
The Apostolic and Sub-apostolic Fathers worked to defend the faith and explain it. As the Church grew, there was a need to make a more systematic, all-encompassing and precise exposition of the Faith to teach the new converts. This saw the formation of theological schools.
We will recall that the Gnostics claimed to have secret knowledge accessible only to a few. Irenaeus argued that these false intellectuals were not the real teachers of the Faith.
The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle; and Christians dwell as sojourners in corruptible [bodies], looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens.
The Greek Apologists addressed non-Christians and employed Greek philosophy to defend the Faith from accusations and show that Christianity is the one true religion.
The Didache is a document from the earliest times of the Church. It is a kind of instruction, written during the first five centuries of Christianity, and believed to have come from the apostles. In Greek, it means ‘teaching’ or ‘instruction’ from the title ‘The Lord’s Instruction to the Gentiles through the Twelve Apostles’.
We have already discussed the three great Apostolic Fathers: St Clement, St Ignatius of Antioch, and St Polycarp. There are three other things from this period that we can mention: these concern a bishop, a letter and a revelation.
St Polycarp was martyred probably in February 155 or 156 AD. According to St Ignatius, Polycarp was a disciple of John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Moreover, St Ignatius also says that Polycarp was made bishop of Smyrna by the Apostles themselves.
St Ignatius was martyred in Rome during Trajan’s reign (98-117), devoured by beasts. It was while he was being escorted by ten guards on his way to Rome that he wrote seven Letters. The most important of these was the one he wrote to the Christian community in Rome. He told them not to do anything to prevent his martyrdom.