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Primitive Fathers (The)


The five Christian fathers supposed to be contemporary with the Apostles: viz. Clement of Rome (30–102); Barnabas, cousin of Mark the Evangelist, and schoolfellow of Paul the Apostle; Hermas, author of The Shepherd, Ignatius, martyred A.D. 115; and Polycarp (85–169).

The first two Epistles to the Corinthians are probably by Clement Romānus, but everything else ascribed to him is undoubtedly spurious.

The epistle ascribed to Barnabas is of very doubtful authenticity.

Hermas.—It is very doubtful whether this is a proper name at all; and, if a proper name, many think it is a Hermas in the second century, brother of Pius I.

Polycarp, some say, was a pupil of John the Evangelist, by whom he was made Bishop of Smyrna, addressed in the Revelation; but if the Revelation was written in 96, Polycarp was not eleven years old at the time, and could not possibly have been a bishop. It is extremely doubtful whether he knew the Evangelist at all, and certainly he did not know either the Fourth Gospel or the Book of the Revelation.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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