03 March 2014

Anglican Studies (2014) 6.2: The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement
and its consequences: a reflection on the ‘Hard Gospel’ Project

Drumcree Parish Church ... is this the image of the Church of Ireland that many have around the world?

Patrick Comerford

Church of Ireland Theological Institute

MTh Year II

EM8825: Anglican Studies in an Irish context:

Mondays: 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., The Hartin Room.

Monday, 3 March 2014, 3.30 p.m.:

The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and its consequences: a reflection on the Hard Gospel Project



The Church of Ireland has been a polite church. Since disestablishment, we have been a Church that has found it difficult to relate prophetically to the wider political culture, and even to the wider culture itself.

Reconciliation means being reconciled to God and reconciled to one another.

But “how reconciled” are we with one another? To what degree do we need to be reconciled with ourselves:

Reconciled with our past:

Franz Kafka Café in Prague … “a people without a past are a people without a name”

One of the symptoms of a dysfunctional family is shown when those who have been hurt in the past try to deal with those hurts in the present and are told by other members of the family that they would be better off to forgive and to forget.

But it is impossible to do both, to forgive and to forget. Unless we remember, we cannot reconcile ourselves with the past. And failing to remember the past creates a dysfunctional identity in the present, which leaves us, therefore, with no possibility of moving forward, honestly and equipped, into the future.

The Czech writer, Milan Kundera, in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, offers a series of reflections on the importance of memory as the root from which the self-understanding of their identities by individuals and groups emerges. In one of the essays in his book, Kundera analyses the writings of Franz Kafka and comments:

Prague in his novels is a city without memory. It has even forgotten its name. Nobody there remembers anything, nobody recalls anything … No song is capable of uniting the city’s present with its past by recalling the moments of its birth.

Time in Kafka’s novel is the time of humanity that has lost its continuity with humanity, of a humanity that no longer knows anything nor remembers anything, that lives in nameless cities with nameless streets or streets different from the ones they had yesterday, because a name means continuity with the past and people without a past are people without a name.

In his essay, Milan Kundera explores the theme in relation to the way in which an attempt had been made by the state authorities to change the awareness of the identity of the Czech people since the end of World War II. An attempt has been made to erase the nation’s memory, and through this the identity of the people has been eroded.

As Kundera notes, when he quotes his friend Milan Hubi approvingly:

The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory.

The culture, traditions, songs, religious commitment, political ideas embodied above all in the literature and the poetry of the community are important vehicles communicating and challenging the identity of the society.

But in many instances, in the Church of Ireland, we have forgotten the culture, tradition, songs, commitment, politics, literature and poetry of the community of which we are part. And by erasing that memory of the past we have found ourselves stumbling around in the dark of the present, with road signs or street names to help us find our place.

In the past, there has been such a separation between Catholic and Protestant culture in Ireland that it has been a deep chasm that is reflected in cultural and even in everyday life until quite recently.

The tower of Saint Columba’s Church, Colpe, near Drogheda, closed since 1996 … are there Protestant bats and Catholic bats in the belfries? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

I do not know how extensive the problem of bats in the belfry is for your parish. But there are two principal bat species in Ireland: now one type of bat favours attics and the other favours more open spaces. But in church ruins in Ireland, there is a preponderance of attics in the ruined Church of Ireland parish churches, so that there was a rumour recently that Irish bats were divided on sectarian grounds: Protestant bats and Catholic bats.

But culturally there has been a big divide between Protestants and Catholics even on the playing fields: rugby was essentially a Protestant game, played in Protestant schools, to which middle class Catholics were invited under sufferance. While Gaelic football and hurling were almost exclusively Catholic – well, those were the perceptions. The Irish language was perceived – on both sides – as being the preserve of Catholics, and of Republic Nationalist Catholics at that: and this despite the fact that the first book printed in Irish was The Book of Common Prayer, that the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, a Rector’s son, was a Professor of Irish and one of the key figures in the modern revival of the Irish language.

There were different perceptions of what to expect on each other’s farms, in each other’s homes, how each other set standards as employers and employees. A Russian diplomat who had been posted in Dublin many years ago returned to Moscow and wrote about his perceptions of Ireland. He claimed he could know whether he was at a dinner party in a Catholic or a Protestant household: Catholics arrived late and left late, Protestants arrived early and left early.

But this cultural chasm, this gap that reinforced behavioural patterns, has also deprived us as a Church of finding easy opportunities to be reconciled with our past, with our present, and with our future.

Connecting with the Past:

The present reflected in the past … the lights of Main Street shops seen in the windows of Saint Iberius Church, Wexford. But we are often unaware of the great stories of the Celtic saints who founded and built up the church in Ireland (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

There are many things in the past that I cannot be reconciled with. As Archbishop Rowan Williams reminded the Lambeth Conference in 1998, it is very hard for us to accept that we are members of the Body of Christ when we consider that the body includes people in the past who waged crusades, who carried out the Inquisition, who linked mission and colonialism. But they are dead, and they remain part of the Body of Christ, of the one Church I confess as part of the confession of faith each week. I can do nothing to excommunicate them now. I must accept that I will be reconciled with the past, including the ugly past, in Christ’s own plan for the future.

Not being reconciled with our past has deprived many of the Church of Ireland of the great riches our neighbouring churches find it easier to claim.

A few years ago, we had a visit here from the House of Bishops of the Church in Wales. Back in the 1990s, while I was at a course in the College of the Ascension in Birmingham, a group of Welsh ordinands who realised I was testing my own vocation to ordained ministry, presented me with a small book on Celtic spirituality. It was a kind and generous gesture. But our failure to reconcile ourselves with the past has made Celtic Spirituality in Ireland something for “them” rather than “us”. And that has deprived “us” of so many riches.

We are unaware of the great stories of the Celtic saints who founded and built up the church in Ireland. We are unable to understand the wonders of the great, carved high crosses that speckle the Irish countryside. We are unable to understand the significance and the spirituality that lay behind the founding of many of our cathedrals and parish churches.

In many Irish towns and villages, it is virtually certain that the Roman Catholic parish church will have a name like Our Lady of the Rosary, or Our Lady Queen of Peace … But, invariably, Church of Ireland Cathedrals and parish churches stand on the original monastic site in a town or village, and carry the name of the founding saints, names that are often unpronounceable for the tongues of semi-Anglo-Saxon Church of Ireland parishioners. And if they do not know how to pronounce those names, we know less about the monks and abbots who bore them: Saint Flannan, Saint Carthage, Saint Colman, Saint Finn Barre, Saint Fachtna, Saint Laserian ...

It deprives us of some of the wealth and the insights of the founding fathers and the founding mothers of Irish Christianity. The cathedral in Kildare, a small market town 50 km south-west of Dublin, is dedicated to Saint Brigid, one of the three patron saints of Ireland and a woman who was abbot of a mixed community of men and women. During the debate on the ordination of women in the Church of Ireland, I cannot recall one reference to Brigid as one of the apostles of Ireland, nor any reference to the popular mediaeval depiction of Brigid as a mitred abbot.

Tallaght’s mediaeval tower and the pinnacles of Saint Maelruain’s Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

For many years, I worked in Tallaght parish on the margins of Dublin. Externally, this is a marginalised, urban deprived area. A large shopping centre and dull drab housing make up a city that does not even have its own council or mayor, yet it is big enough to be Ireland’s third city.

The Church of Ireland parish church, Saint Maelruain’s, stands on one of the earliest monastic sites in Ireland, associated with the Ceilí Dé movement, an early reform movement in the Celtic Church, and such a centre of learning that it was once known as one of the “Eyes of Ireland”.

In the early 19th century, the last remaining monastic buildings were demolished to provide building rubble to erect a new parish church. Memory was erased, was bulldozed.

The end of the Luas Red line at The Square in Tallaght … a city where memory has been erased (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today in a dormitory city, where people feel they have no roots and where they have no sense of continuity, the only common focus is a pyramid-shaped shopping centre known as “The Square.” If only the church had retained its memory, those people could have found a sense of identity, a sense of rootedness, in a centre of prayer and worship that dates back through the centuries, and that should be giving them hope for the future.

If we are not aware of the stories of our past, if we are not aware of the riches of the iconography of our saints from the past, then we have been truly impoverished – but not for the sake of the Gospel.

The attitude that Celtic Spirituality is “something for them rather than us” is dangerous: in other ways too. If we leave it aside, then we abandon it to quacks and those with fertile religious imaginations; but also fail too to tap into one of the spiritual vocabularies used by thinking and questioning people today; and we fail therefore to understand their agenda and their questions on faith topics. And that is a failure in mission too.

In addition, we are unable to understand how hurt in the past lives in memories, even unarticulated memories, and has shaped attitudes to us today.

In recent years, there has been a series of scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland: allegations of sexual abuse, the physical abuse of children in homes run by religious orders, the tales of a bishop and his secret mistress …

But we have forgotten that each one of these controversies dogged the Church of Ireland in previous generations, along with rectors who were flogging and hanging magistrates and bishops caught in scandalous positions with naked sailors in London taverns.

But there was worse: as we have seen in our survey of the history of the Church of Ireland, for generations the bench of bishops of the Church of Ireland provided the working majority of the Irish House of Lord, where on their own initiation, they pushed through iniquitous laws aimed against Roman Catholics and remembered to this day as the Penal Laws. Invariably, until the Act of Union was passed in 1800, two out of three of the highest offices of state in Dublin were held by members of the House of Bishops.

Over the past 200 years or more, the Orange Order has been seen one of the strongest vehicles for perpetuating sectarianism on this island. Admittedly, in many parishes, the Orange Order is a benign and benevolent, organisation. Its older members regard it as merely quaint that Roman Catholics are excluded, in the same quaint way that “ladies” are excluded from membership. But so too in the past Presbyterians were excluded from membership. We have allowed ourselves to forget that this organisation was formed firstly to protect the interests of the Church of Ireland as the established church, at a time when the prelates and the landed aristocracy combined to form what was known as the “Protestant Ascendancy”.

Transition from past to present

Fear of the past, and clinging on to the memories of past fears, also immobilise us in the transition from the past to the present.

Fear that innovation or moving towards ownership of the insights of modern liturgical thinking will deprive us of our identity and make “us” more like “them”.

A few examples:

An increasing number of parishes are being amalgamated, so that often we have one rector or parish priest serving six or seven churches. It is impossible for one rector to visit all of these churches on a Sunday morning. But when someone suggests a Saturday evening liturgy – and Roman Catholics have long had Saturday evening Mass – the main objection is likely to be unuttered but thought in terms of: “They do it, so we should not.”

This attitude deprives people of the opportunities to worship at the weekend and to have their rector stay long enough at the church door afterwards to give them pastoral attention and a listening ear, instead of racing off like Michael Schumann to the next ecclesiastical pit-stop.

This attitude deprives people of an opportunity to have regular sacramental ministry.

This attitude deprives them of sharing the same worshipping experiences as their neighbours, because if we cannot worship together then at least if we can worship at the same time as a community it can engender an amazing sense of a shared worship life in small towns and villages.

Our fear of the liturgical movement and liturgy innovation has left us afraid not just of bells and smells, but of candles and icons, of the healing ministry, of aural confession, of our priests wearing our Sunday best on Sundays.

The Present:

The Cross of Nails in Coventry Cathedral … the use of the word reconciliation in the Irish context was probably inspired by Coventry Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The beginning of the story of reconciliation in Ireland is a little bit more difficult to trace.

As the violent clashes in Northern Ireland unfolded in the wake of the failure of the civil rights marches of the 1960s, there were a number of efforts to try to form peace movements, some of them sad failures, some of them sad constructions in themselves.

Sad failures would include that beautiful but ineffective movement, “What Price Peace?” that arose from a lone vigil by a bereaved Church of Ireland priest, the Revd Joe Parker.

Sad constructions included movements like PACE, Protestant and Catholic Encounter, which brought middle class people together for morning coffee and afternoon tea, and wondered why there couldn’t be reconciliation without first exposing the wounds of the past to the light of the sun so that they could be healed. Can there be any real reconciliation without a healing of memories?

The use of the word reconciliation was probably inspired by Coventry Cathedral. But there the word reconciliation had been adopted by the bombed, by the victims. Is it wrong for the demand for reconciliation to be first made, without facing up to the hurt of past injustices?

At a meeting of peace groups from across Ireland, I once raised the issue of nuclear weapons, and the move to deploy a new generation of nuclear weaponry, Cruise and Pershing Missiles, in Europe. I was sternly told by a group of Belfast women that the nuclear arms race had nothing to do with the “peace movement” and I was publicly berated by one clergyman at the meeting who accused me of not being interested in reconciliation, of, yes, being a Communist.

Reconciliation was all right if you were going to bring back investment to Belfast. But we dare not talk about reconciliation in terms that challenged the rhetoric of the Cold War. Needless to say, we have moved on since then.

The Irish School of Ecumenics was founded at Milltown Park, Dublin, Father Michael Hurley (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

It may emerge in time that we will agree that real reconciliation in Ireland, as far as the churches are concerned, can be traced back not to the morning coffee and afternoon tea gatherings in South Belfast, but to the pioneering work of the Jesuit, the late Father Michael Hurley, and his friends who established the Irish School of Ecumenics.

In coming to terms with the present, in reconciling our religious traditions and cultures, and in reconciling those of us who live in the present with the ugly heritage and memories of the past, the Church of Ireland has eventually been involved in a three-stage process.

1, Reconciling of Memories: In 1987, the Irish School of Ecumenics undertook a programme of study and reflection on the subject of Reconciliation of Memories. In the course of this programme, theologians, historians, philosophers, political scientists and literary critics were invited to contribute to the examination of those situations where “all could not be forgiven because all had not been forgotten.”

2, Moving beyond Sectarianism: This programme was followed by the Irish School of Ecumenics with a programme called “Moving Beyond Sectarianism”, a six-year research project focussing on the role of Christian religion in sectarianism in Northern Ireland. Instead of demonising the more violent, bigoted and overt expressions of sectarianism, the project chose instead to highlight the subtle, polite and understated expressions of sectarianism. This form of sectarianism seems innocuous but serves as an essential underpinning for the ethos of antagonised division that allows the more blatant expressions to flourish. It pointed the finger at each and every one of us – we were all to blame, and we all needed to take responsibility if we were going to move beyond sectarianism and bring about real, lasting reconciliation.

3, The Hard Gospel: The next stage came the Church of Ireland took the challenges of these projects seriously and we started to own them for ourselves so that the process took on a new dynamic. The General Synod established a Sectarianism Education Programme, and commissioned a scooping study, The Hard Gospel, which did not have to dig too deep to find out how deeply rooted sectarian attitudes and values were throughout the Church of Ireland.

But we all know reports are not the end. So often we are used to reports being received by General Synods, and that is it. In this instance though, the report was handed down to Diocesan Synods, where it was discussed, in most cases, not as part of the normal business that has to be rushed through as one of many items on the agenda, but at special sessions, called with only one item on the agenda, The Hard Gospel. And the dioceses have sent the report on the parishes, in the form of study packs, each unit beginning with a Gospel study but then demanding a critical look by the participants – whether they are in parishes north or south of the border – at the barriers and boundaries in their own parishes.

Have we heard all we going to hear, or are we going to hear more about the Hard Gospel in the years ahead?

The Hard Gospel: some questions about its scope and extent:

The process (note the high level of response and engagement in the survey).

How do you feel (in general) about the topics covered?

Should some have been omitted?

Should some have been included?

Section 1:

Defining sectarianism: did you find this difficult?

Church of Ireland identity: do you find this limiting or liberating?

What about its future?

Church Government and structures.

North-South differences.

Ethnic difference and asylum seekers.

Political difference: how political can you be? What do you think of clergy involved in politics?

Theological difference: how comfortable are you with that?

Relationships with other churches and inter-church activity.

World religions.

Peace, sectarianism.

Sectarianism Education Project.

The loyal orders and Drumcree: How do you respond to Drumcree?

Section 2:

Gender differences and sexuality.

Young people

Old people.

Responding to society in general.

Training and resourcing of clergy.

Other issues.

The future:

How can you use the Hard Gospel in a parish?

In a study group?

In a youth group?

What issues missing?

What issues over-emphasised or should not be there (e.g. sexuality)?

We have realised we are only starting to scratch the surface. But itching wounds are wounds that want to heal. We are naming the beasts. They are ugly and they breathe deadly fire. But by naming them we are acquiring the courage to be reconciled not just with the past and the present, but with the future. The problems we have to face in the future are many. They include not only theological differences, but inbred, generations old class values, snobbery, elitism, and indifference.

There are problems for members of the Church of Ireland in Northern Ireland, formed in the old political mould, adjusting to the changes brought about by the Belfast agreement, and facing the future with some trepidation. Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore, speaking in Newtownards at his diocesan synod some years ago, articulated some of these fears on their behalf:

“Here in Northern Ireland, we find ourselves in a time of both great change and of numbed ‘stuckness’. We are uncertain, in our post-traumatic ‘peace’ about whether or not we can find our way through to a complete resolution of our troubles. And we are uncertain about whether the Belfast Agreement can provide the foundation we had hoped for, which would allow a society to develop which would include all, and have the loyalty of all.

“We can critique the ‘Peace and Reconciliation’ model of South Africa, but we do not know how or when we might find our own equivalent but locally applicable way of dealing with our common hurts and memories, and especially with the hurts and memories of victims of the troubles.”

But at least we have made a start. We have begun to own the process of reconciliation. We have named the beasts, now are we prepared to move on and slay them? Are we ready to be reconciled with the past, held in our memories; reconciled with the present; and reconciled with what the future can hold for us as potential as we move forward as a church in mission?


Partition, conflict and peace: the Church of Ireland in the 20th and 21st centuries.

7.2: Theologies of reconciliation and the challenges of divided societies (M Volf, R Schreiter, J de Gruchy).

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin. These notes were prepared for a seminar on 3 March 2014 as part of the MTh Year II course, EM8825: Anglican Studies in an Irish context.

Anglican Studies (2014) 6.1:
Christianity and nationalisms

A Serbian Orthodox Church in Zadar in Croatia after it was the spray-painted with multiple Us for Ustasa, with the Catholic cross in between

Patrick Comerford

Church of Ireland Theological Institute

MTh Year II

EM8825: Anglican Studies in an Irish context:

Mondays: 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., The Hartin Room.

Monday, 3 March 2014, 2 p.m.:

Anglican Studies (6.1):
Christianity and nationalisms.


Three weeks ago [11 February 2014], we looked at some of background to and experiences of sectarianism, North and South of the border. Some these were so culturally rooted that it is difficult to challenge them as we live our lives of mission and ministry in the Church. Others, at times, seem to be enshrined in legislation.

Most of us probably react with embarrassment and cringe when we face up to our own intimate experiences of nationalism and identity expressed as Christianity, especially when they relate to our own families, our own parishes, our countries.

How long have you thought that these experiences were unique?

Part of the cause of social embarrassment is being over self-aware, and feeling that few if any share the same experience. Shame goes hand-in-hand with public exposure.

How often have you asked yourself questions like:

● Why is this happening in my parish/diocese?
● How often have you been exasperated, wondering do things like this happen only in Ireland?
● Only in Northern Ireland?
● Only in the Republic of Ireland?
● Only in the Church of Ireland?

This afternoon, I would like us to discuss the conflict of cultures and the place of religion in conflict, especially looking at the link between Christianity and nationalisms.

This is not only a concern for the Church of Ireland, or for Christianity, or for Ireland, but this is a global concern. We live in a world of conflict in which religion plays a key role.

Have our perceptions of Islam changed after 9/11?


● The way Serbs and Croats were defined as the former Yugoslavia broke up – Serbs were Orthodox and used Cyrillic letters for their shared language, and were dismissed as “Chetniks,” while Croats were Catholics who used Roman letters and were dismissed as “Ustasas.”
● The role of religion in conflict in Iraq;
● The perceptions of Islam following the 9/11 attacks;
● The response in the Islamic world to President Bush’s use of the word “crusade”;
● The conflicts between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Pakistan, and many Gulf states.

How do you think Muslims reacted to George Bush’s use of the word “Crusade?”

Our cultural assumptions about religion frames and is framed by the language we use about conflict.

For example, about ten years ago (12 October 2002) there was a bombing of a bar in Bali, in which 202 people were killed, including 88 Australian tourists.

Two cultural images were conveyed, two cultural presuppositions were confirmed, in the news coverage of this incident and its aftermath:

1, Bali is an island of peace;
2, Unlike the rest of Indonesia, Bali has a strong Hindu presence, making it an oasis of peace.

There is something amiss with these two images:

Are there some religions we are culturally conditioned to think of as peaceful?

1, That there are peaceful religions, and there are violent religions. In particular we are culturally disposed towards thinking of Hinduism and Buddhism as religions of peace, and Islam as a religion of violence.

And yet, one of the factors in years of political violence in Sri Lanka – another island that once had the image of being an island haven of peace – is the tension between Buddhists and Hindus, and the Buddhist sangha or monks were among the most vocal critics of any government effort to enter dialogue with the Tamil Tigers.

Indeed, the image of violent Buddhists runs contrary to historical reality. Yet, how many Japanese suicide pilots went to death in World War II chanting praise to Buddha of with the words from the Lotus Sutra, Namyoho Renge Kyo?

Japanese kamikaze pilots waiting for their flights

2, The second image is that those violent religions usually boil down to one religion in particular, that is, Islam.

We have inherited a cultural prejudice that Islam is a religion with an inherent violence built into its thoughts, values and teachings.

Is this image of Hizbullah typical or stereotypical? And how often do we transfer this image to Islam in general

Popular media regularly conveys images of Islam as a religion of institutionalised violence, expressed in judicial sentencing, such as stoning, chopping off hands, and of social violence, typified in how we discuss jihad, suicide car bombers, the attacks on New York, Madrid and London, the wars in the Middle East, the export of violence or the perceived nuclear threat from Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah in Palestine and Lebanon, or Chechen fighters in the former Soviet Union.

Is there a ‘Christendom’? Is there a looming clash of civilisations? Dark blue: Western ‘Christendom’; sky blue: Orthodox ‘Christendom’; green: Islamic world; dark red: Sinic world; purple: Latin America; brown: Sub-Saharan Africa; orange: Hindu world; yellow: Buddhist world; grey: former British colonies; turquoise: Turkey; blue: Israel; light brown: Ethiopia; light green: Haiti; red: Japan

In a paper in the journal Foreign Affairs in 1996 that gave its title to a subsequent book in 1997, Samuel Huntington spoke of a “clash of civilisations” between the Christian or post-Christian world, and the Islamic world.

Until his death in 2008, he continued to speak in terms of a looming “clash of civilisations between Islam and the West.”

Despite the apparent outworking of some of his predictions, there are many faults in the theory of an inevitable “clash of civilisations.” Huntington equated a religion with a civilisation, so that Islam is a unitary political, social and definable “civilisation” that depends on a religion for its understanding and explanation, while Christianity underpins western civilisation, and that Islam made no contribution to Western culture and civilisation.

But there is also a reality that must concern us. Many people associate religion with violence, and with war. For example, Polly Toynbee wrote a commentary in The Guardian in the run-up to the first anniversary of 9/11 (6 September 2002) that was headed: ‘Religion isn’t nice. It kills’.

One of the major criticisms of religion in general, and religions in particular, is the role of religion in violence and conflicts.

In all religions, and we should be aware of it most in Christianity. Awareness allows us to face one of the main criticisms of Christianity from those on the margins, and allows us to have some terms and terminology so we can face the problems of violence in our own areas.

I want us to consider three concepts that have made it difficult to disentangle religion – and Christianity in particular – from politics and nationalism:

● Christendom
● The Crusades
● The Nation State

1, Christendom:

Constantine the Great … the beginning of Christendom?

Christendom is not co-terminal with or another phrase for “the Kingdom of God.” But it has often been misrepresented as such. The term “Christendom” may have several meanings, but it refers in particular to a world view that identifies Christianity with cultural, economic and political expressions of a society that is perceived as being normative for or a standard for the rest of human society.

It is a common perception that the Church was pacifist until the Constantinian settlement, when Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in AD 313, extending toleration to Christianity. This claim needs objective historical analysis, because it is often argued from a partisan viewpoint. Other questions we need to ask include whether the Church under persecution could consider co-operating with the state in such circumstances, and whether there was a separation of the role of policing and the role of the army?

The earliest use of the terms Christianity (Χριστιανισμός) and Catholic (Καθολικός) is in the writings of Saint Ignatius of Antioch (2nd century). The word Christendom comes from the Latin word Christianus. The Christian world was also known collectively as the Corpus Christianum, often translated as the Christian body, referring to the community of all Christians. The Christian polity, embodying a less secular meaning, has been compared with the idea of both a religious and a temporal body: Corpus Christianum, and at times the Corpus Christianum has been seen as a Christian equivalent of the Muslim Ummah.

In a more political or secular was Christendom has been used as a descriptive term for the “Political Christian World,” as if this had been in the past and might or ought to be now or in the future a cultural hegemony, what we might now refer to as “the West.”

But of course, from where we stand geographically, Christianity began in the East, or at least in the Middle East or the Eastern Mediterranean.

In looking at early church history a few weeks ago, we noticed briefly how Christianity spread through the Classical or Greek and Roman world in the apostolic and then post-apostolic period.

The period of Early Christianity came to a close when the imperial persecution of Christians ends, with the coming to power of Constantine the Great, the Edict of Milan (313), and the First Council of Nicaea (325).

The 4th century palace complex in Thessaloniki … the Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the state religion of the empire under the Edict of Thessaloniki in 392 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Later, Christianity became the state religion of the Empire under the Edict of Thessaloniki in 392 when the Emperor Theodosius I prohibited the practice of pagan religions and the Church gradually became a defining institution of the Empire.

Saint Augustine envisions the City of God

And so, we can see, the Christian attitude to war begins to shift after Constantine and with the writings of Augustine (died 430). Was this good theology, or was it forged in the face of a real threat, with the barbarians at the gates? Augustine wrote The City of God shortly after Rome was sacked by the Visigoths in 410. But, even then, is it any less valid a way of formulating theology in the face of the real pressures of life?

After the Barbarian invasions and the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, a new threat was posed to Christianity with the rise of Islam, the Muslim capture of Jerusalem in 638, the arrival of Muslim armies in Europe, and the threat to the New Rome, Constantinople.

As the Empire in the West disintegrated into feudal kingdoms and small states, the concept of Christendom changed as the western church became separate from the Emperor and Christians in the Empire of the East.

In the East, the Byzantine Empire saw itself vas the last bastion of Christendom. Christendom entered a new phase with the rise of the Franks and their conversion to Christianity.

Christendom later refers to the mediaeval and renaissance notions of the Christian world as a socio-political polity. In essence, the earliest vision of Christendom was a vision of a Christian theocracy or a government founded on and upholding Christian values, whose institutions are spread through and over with Christian doctrine.

In this period, the clergy wield political authority. The specific relationship between political leaders and clergy varied. But, in theory, the national and political divisions were often subsumed in the leadership of the Church.

On Christmas Day 800, Pope Leo XIII crowned Charlemagne as the Emperor of what became the Holy Empire.

This empire created an alternative definition of Christendom in contrast to the Byzantine Empire. The question of what constituted true Christendom would then occupy political and religious leaders for generations and centuries to come.

The pontificate of Innocent III is considered the height of temporal power of the papacy. The Corpus Christianum describes the then current notion of the community of all Christians in communion with the Pope – a community guided by Christian values in its politics, economics and social life.

However, in the East, Christendom was seen as co-terminus with the Byzantine Empire, which was gradually loss of territory in the face of the rapid expansion of Islam and the rise of new Persian Empire.

2, The Crusades

The capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade

Until the Great Schism divided the Church religiously, there had been a concept of a universal Christendom that included the East and the West. But this was rocked by the Great Schism and was destroyed by the Fourth Crusade.

The Crusades originated in Western Europe, particularly in the Frankish realms (France) and the Holy Roman Empire. They were proclaimed as a campaign, fought under the Cross, to reclaim control of Jerusalem and the “Holy Land” for “Christendom” and were fought for almost two centuries, between 1095 and 1291. Initially the Crusades were proclaimed for the recovery of Jerusalem and the ‘Holy Land,’ and the protection of pilgrims, but they soon became a ‘holy war’.

In the First Crusade (1095-1099), at the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, Orthodox Christians fought alongside Jewish and Muslim residents to defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders, so that many Christians were slaughtered alongside their Muslim neighbours.

Many Muslims sought shelter in al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Temple Mount area. One Crusader account reports how the Crusaders “were killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles.”

According to Raymond of Aguilers, “in the Temple and porch of Solomon men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.”

Fulcher of Chartres says: “In this temple 10,000 were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet coloured to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared.”

The Fourth Crusade ended in the sack of Constantinople in 1204

Some of the crusade expeditions were diverted completely from their original aim. The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) resulted in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 and the partition of the Byzantine Empire between Venice and the Crusaders, and hastened the destruction of Byzantium.

But it was not until the Sixth Crusade (1228-1229) that any Crusade received the official blessing of the Pope.

Dante in his Inferno places Muhammad in the Eighth Circle of Hell as a sower of discord, along with Christian schismatics, while in a frozen lake at the bottom of hell he placed Ganelon, who betrayed Roland and the rear-guard of Charlemagne’s army. In the Fifth Heaven he placed the Crusader King, Godfrey of Bouillon.

Godfrey de Bouillon, leader of the first crusade … placed in a frozen lake at the bottom of hell by Dante

But, writing about the Crusades, Sir Steven Runciman says: “High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed ... the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God.”

We still use, misuse and abuse the term “Crusade” when we are describing certain campaigns. The Crusades have left far-reaching political, economic, and social legacies that continue to survive in our time.

Colin Chapman says the Crusades “have left a deep scar on the minds of Muslims all over the world. Although they ended more than 700 years ago, for many Muslims it is as if they happened only yesterday. And recent events such as the Rushdie affair, the Gulf War and the Bosnian conflict have made many [Muslims] feel that the Crusades have never ended.”

Later Christendom

Palais des Papes, Avignon … the Western Schism and the Avignon Papacy posed a major crisis of identity for Western Christendom

The Western Church was boosted in its political authority and its perception of a shared boundary with Christendom through the shared experience of the Crusades, the fight against the Moors in the Iberian Peninsula, and against the ottomans in the Balkans. But some of its worst expressions were also found, for example, in the Inquisition, the pogroms directed against Jews, and “crusades” against heretics, such as the Albigenses and the Cathars.

Western Christendom faced a major crisis of identity with the Western Schism and the Avignon Papacy, a split that came to an end only with the Council of Constance. And mediaeval Christendom was also challenged by the reputation of morally lax pontiffs and their dependence on secular rulers, coupled with greed for material wealth and temporal power.

The Reformations and the concurrent rise of independent states gave the term “Christendom” a new, more general, meaning in Western Europe, signifying countries that were predominantly Christian – whether they were Catholic or Protestant – as opposed to Islamic or other countries.

Post-Reformation Roman Catholics the restoration of Christendom and argued that, the term applied to the civilisation of Catholic nations that espoused the doctrine of the Social Reign of Christ the King, and that recognised the Roman Catholic Church.

3, The nation state

The Coliseum seen from the Irish Dominican church at San Clemente. The nation state is a post-16th century concept … the modern Italian state dates from 17 March 1861 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Hundred Years’ War accelerated the process of transforming France from a feudal monarchy to a centralised state. The rise of strong, centralised European monarchies was part of the transition in Europe from feudalism to capitalism and the rise of modernity.

The Peace of Augsburg in 1555 officially ended the idea among secular leaders that all Christians must be united under one church. The principle of cuius regio eius religio (“whoever the king, his the religion”) established the religious, political and geographical divisions of Christianity.

The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 ended the concept of a single Christian hegemony. After that, each government determined the religion of its own state, and the wars of religion came to an end.

With the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the concept of the sovereign national state was born. The Corpus Christianum has since existed with the modern idea of a tolerant and diverse society consisting of many different communities.

The nation state, in seeking to define itself, must by definition limit itself. These limitations find a number of expressions, such a language, a constructed culture (including music, poetry, drama, songs, architecture and paintings), and, of course, religion.

Is it possible to imagine the construction of the modern Italian state – proclaimed over 150 years ago on 17 March 1861 – without a shared Italian language, seen as the creation of Dante, and expressed in the operas of Verdi?

Consider how the revival of the Irish language and the popularisation of images such as Round Towers and Celtic High Crosses came at a crucial time in Irish nationalism in the late 19th century.

Germany is a modern nation state without a shared religious identity. Nevertheless, it still resulted in the most profane effort to exclude one religious expression – the Holocaust.

Some contemporary examples of the role of religion in conflict:

“Το παιδομάζωμα” (ή “το σκλαβοπάζαρο”) του Νικολάου Γύζη ... The Levy of Christian Children, by Nicholas Ghyzis

In the creation of the modern Greek state and the modern Turkish state, religion played a key role in the forging of national identities, so that Greek was equated with Orthodox Christian and Turk with Muslim.

The consequences of this reached beyond the generations, after the creation of an independent Cyprus in 1960. The Muslim/Christian dividing line defined the line of advance when the Turks invaded Cyprus in 1974.

Did religion define nationality for Europe nation states?

What role does it play in our understanding and creation of a new European identity?

But this is not solely a European phenomenon. Religious identity has been used to define separate national identities in India and Pakistan. This has created problems for those outside these definitions, including Christians and Sikhs, and the conflict continues between Hindus and Muslims, with violence constantly and continually threatening to inflame border conflicts between Pakistan and India.

Religion has been a factor in many of the conflicts in Europe in the 1990s. As Yugoslavia was breaking up, the labels Catholic and Orthodox were used to distinguish Croat from Serb. When Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo slaughtered, was it because they were Muslims in Bosnia (where they were otherwise like all other Slavs)? Was it because they were Albanians or Muslims in Kosovo?

A Muslim holding the Quran and a Coptic Christian holding a cross are carried through opposition supporters in Tahrir Square in Cairo during the ‘Arab Spring’ protests

In Egypt, many Arabs and Muslims have found it difficult to see Coptic Christians as true Egyptians. On the other hand, the word Copt means Egyptian, and many Christians have seen themselves as the true and authentic Egyptians.

How did you react to the way in which Muslim-Christian unity became one of the themes during the ‘Arab Spring’ protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo? Do you recall the news scenes where members of the Coptic Christian minority prayed in the square and how many of the placards combined the crescent and the cross? A common chant was: “Hand in hand.”

To what degree did religious divisions play a role in the more recent conflicts in Egypt?

What about the conflicts in Sudan and the Central African Republic? Is this a conflict between Arabs and Africans in Sudan, or between Muslims and Christians in both countries? And did the churches become too closely identified with the cause of Southern Sudan?

Consider the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Is this a Jewish-Muslim conflict? How do Christians whose families have been living there for generations and centuries feel in terms of their identity? Is there a place for them there?

Was the invasion of Iraq built on a case for a ‘just war’? Or did it build on our traditional antipathies towards, fears of, and misconceptions of Islam.

What are the Christian responses to violence?

What do we mean by a ‘just war’?


In today’s world, how do we move from encounter to dialogue and understanding?

Appendix 1:

The criteria for a just war:

Seven conditions:

Declaration by a legitimate authority;
2, Just cause;
3, Formal declaration;
4, Right intention;
5, Last resort;
6, Reasonable hope of success;
7, Due proportion between the benefits sought and the damage done.

Three Conditions for conduct:

Guaranteed immunity of non-combatants.
2, Prisoners must be treated humanely;
3, International treaties must be honoured.

Were these conditions met in Northern Ireland?

In Iraq?

Who was responsible for meeting these conditions?

Can there be an ‘unjust’ war or a ‘just’ revolution?

Or are these models relevant?

What is a jihad?

The word jihad in fact has its roots in the Arabic verb to exert, and means not holy war (as translated by Thomas Aquinas) but an exertion on behalf of true religion and submission to God.

On the other hand, Islam allows no other form of war and violence except that with some religious objective.

Appendix 2:

Περιμένοντας τους Bαρβάρους (Waiting for the Barbarians), CP Cavafy:

— Τι περιμένουμε στην αγορά συναθροισμένοι;

Είναι οι βάρβαροι να φθάσουν σήμερα.

— Γιατί μέσα στην Σύγκλητο μια τέτοια απραξία;
Τι κάθοντ’ οι Συγκλητικοί και δεν νομοθετούνε;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
Τι νόμους πια θα κάμουν οι Συγκλητικοί;
Οι βάρβαροι σαν έλθουν θα νομοθετήσουν.

—Γιατί ο αυτοκράτωρ μας τόσο πρωί σηκώθη,
και κάθεται στης πόλεως την πιο μεγάλη πύλη
στον θρόνο επάνω, επίσημος, φορώντας την κορώνα;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
Κι ο αυτοκράτωρ περιμένει να δεχθεί
τον αρχηγό τους. Μάλιστα ετοίμασε
για να τον δώσει μια περγαμηνή. Εκεί
τον έγραψε τίτλους πολλούς κι ονόματα.

— Γιατί οι δυο μας ύπατοι κ’ οι πραίτορες εβγήκαν
σήμερα με τες κόκκινες, τες κεντημένες τόγες•
γιατί βραχιόλια φόρεσαν με τόσους αμεθύστους,
και δαχτυλίδια με λαμπρά, γυαλιστερά σμαράγδια•
γιατί να πιάσουν σήμερα πολύτιμα μπαστούνια
μ’ ασήμια και μαλάματα έκτακτα σκαλιγμένα;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα•
και τέτοια πράγματα θαμπώνουν τους βαρβάρους.

—Γιατί κ’ οι άξιοι ρήτορες δεν έρχονται σαν πάντα
να βγάλουνε τους λόγους τους, να πούνε τα δικά τους;

Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα•
κι αυτοί βαρυούντ’ ευφράδειες και δημηγορίες.

— Γιατί ν’ αρχίσει μονομιάς αυτή η ανησυχία
κ’ η σύγχυσις. (Τα πρόσωπα τι σοβαρά που εγίναν).
Γιατί αδειάζουν γρήγορα οι δρόμοι κ’ η πλατέες,
κι όλοι γυρνούν στα σπίτια τους πολύ συλλογισμένοι;

Γιατί ενύχτωσε κ’ οι βάρβαροι δεν ήλθαν.
Και μερικοί έφθασαν απ’ τα σύνορα,
και είπανε πως βάρβαροι πια δεν υπάρχουν.

Και τώρα τι θα γένουμε χωρίς βαρβάρους.
Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ήσαν μια κάποια λύσις.

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him,
replete with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard


The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and its consequences: a reflection on the Hard Gospel Project.


Partition, conflict and peace: the Church of Ireland in the 20th and 21st centuries.

7.2: Theologies of reconciliation and the challenges of divided societies (M Volf, R Schreiter, J de Gruchy).

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor, the University of Dublin (TCD). This lecture on 3 March 2014 was part of the MTh Year II course, EM8825: Anglican Studies in an Irish context.

Patristics (2014): 2, The Apostolic Fathers

A colonnade of 14 Corinthian columns on the west side of the Stoa of Smyrna, the only surviving classical site in Izmir. Among the Apostolic Fathers, Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote four of his letters, including one to the Church in Smyrna, while he was a prisoner in Smyrna, and Saint Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Church of Ireland Theological Institute,

Introduction to Patristics,

Brown Room,

Mondays, 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

11.30 a.m., Monday, 3 March 2014:

2: The Apostolic Fathers


The Apostolic Fathers are a group of early Christian writers who lived and wrote in the second half of the 1st century and the first half of the 2nd century. They are acknowledged as leaders in the early Church, but their writings were not included in the canon of the New Testament. They include Saint Clement of Rome, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, and Saint Polycarp of Smyrna.

“Apostolic Fathers” has been used as a term to describe them since the 17th century, emphasising that these authors were thought of as the generation that had personal contact with the Apostles. They provide a link between the Apostles who knew Christ and the later generation of Christian apologists, defenders of Orthodox authority and developers of doctrine known as the Church Fathers. Their writings shed light on the emerging traditions and organisation of the infant Church, and provide first-hand accounts of the Early Church.

The Apostolic Fathers and their works

The Apostolic Fathers include Saint Clement of Rome (ca 30 to ca 100), Saint Ignatius of Antioch, and Saint Polycarp of Smyrna. In addition, the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas are usually placed among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, although their authors are unknown.

The writings of the Apostolic Fathers are in a number of genres. For example, the writings of Clement of Rome are letters or Epistles. Others recall historical events, such as the Martyrdom of Polycarp, while the Didache is a guide for ethical and liturgical practice.

The Apostolic Fathers present a picture of an organised Church made up of different cross-cultural, sister churches sharing one apostolic tradition. Their ecclesiology, Judaic values, and emphasis upon the historical nature of Christ stand in contrast to the ideologies of more paganised Christianities, on the one hand, and Christianities that excluded the Gentiles on the other.

The term “Apostolic Fathers” first appears in 1672 in the title of a work by Jean-Baptiste Cotelier, SS. Patrum qui temporibus apostolicis floruerunt opera (Works of the holy fathers who flourished in the apostolic times). Later editions abbreviated this title to Bibliotheca Patrum Apostolicorum (1699). Since then the term has been universally used, although it can be difficult to make a clear distinction between the Apostolic Fathers and Church Fathers in general.

Missing authors and excluded authors

Today, we only have some of the writings by the Apostolic Fathers. Other writings did not survive and exist only as references, in quotations and excerpts, or as literal fragments of parchment or papyrus. Other writings said to be quotes from the Apostolic Fathers are often stylistically different and sometimes address issues that are not addressed in the New Testament or in the surviving writings of the Apostolic Fathers.

The writings from the early Christian tradition not included with the Apostolic Fathers include the writings of the desposyni, the apocrypha, including apocryphal gospels, much of the pseudepigrapha, and the writings of unorthodox leaders or heretics, including Marcion and Valentinius. The apocryphal gospels and pseudepigrapha are, for the most part, later writings that seem to have less historical accuracy than the canonical scriptures.

Much of what we known about the heretics comes from the Apostolic Fathers and Church Fathers. This information was once thought be highly inaccurate or biased, but the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library validates most of that information.

Relationship to Orthodoxy

Within the tradition, but after the Apostolic Fathers proper, authors including Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian are considered Apologists. A small number of other authors, known only in fragments, such as Papias and Hegesippus, are more concerned with the apostolic continuity of the individual churches and their histories.

Although some minor opinions expressed by the Apostolic Fathers are no longer considered entirely orthodox, their writings provide important data regarding a strain of early Christianity which remains largely true to its Jewish roots while including both non-Jewish and Jewish believers as full members of the Church.

The works of the Apostolic Fathers

The writings counted among the works of the Apostolic Fathers include:

● I Clement.
● II Clement (not written by Clement, but still an early writing).
● The Didache.
● The Epistle of Barnabas.
● Seven short Epistles of Ignatius (the longer forms of these Epistles, and those beyond the seven, are widely considered later emendations or forgeries).
● The Epistle of Polycarp.
● The Epistle about Polycarp’s Martyrdom.
● The Shepherd of Hermas.

Some collections also include the Epistle of Diognetus, although this is hard to date and is probably of a later date.

In addition, fragments from the writings of Papias and Hegesippus have survived as quotations by later writers, and one short fragment by Quadratus of Athens. Most of these works were originally written in Greek, and have been published in English translations, including those by JB Lightfoot, MW Holmes and M. Staniforth and Andrew Louth.

Saint Clement of Rome

The view of the Coliseum from the Irish Dominican church at San Clemente (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Clement, who lived at the end of the first century (ca 96 AD), is listed as one of the early successors of the Apostle Peter as Bishop of Rome, or as the fourth Pope. He is usually cited in debates about papal primacy, although there is no evidence for a monarchical style of episcopacy in Rime at such an early date.

Indeed, his early letter to the Church of Corinth is important not because it settles the divisions within that church but more for the wisdom and love he displays. He shows the way to unity is through humility and charity, and that church order is not political but sacramental.

Clement’s Epistle, I Clement, was written ca 96 and was copied and widely read. It is the earliest Christian Epistle outside the New Testament. Although Clement is not identified in the epistle as its author, tradition has held him to be the author. Tradition identifies Clement as the fourth Bishop of Rome, although it is not clear that he was bishop at the time he wrote this letter.

The epistle is addressed from “the Church of God which is transiently sojourning in Rome” to “the Church of God which is transiently sojourning in Corinth” (see Staniforth and Louth, pp 23 and 50 n. 1). Claiming to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, the author quotes extensively from the Scriptures and appeals to the shared apostolic tradition in his call to the Christians of Corinth to maintain harmony and order.

The First Epistle of Clement

I Clement dates from ca 96 and ranks with the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Seven Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch as one of the earliest – if not the earliest – of the surviving Christian documents outside the canon of the New Testament.

Nowhere in I Clement is Clement named as the author. Rather, the epistle is written with its opening line in the name of “the Church of God which is transiently sojourning in Rome” to “the Church of God which is transiently sojourning in Corinth.” However, scholarly consensus overwhelmingly favours its authenticity.

The traditional date for I Clement is at the end of the reign of Domitian, about 96 AD, because the phrase “our recent series of unexpected misfortunes and set-backs” (1: 1) is taken as a reference to persecutions in Rome under Domitian ca 93 AD. A confirmation of the date is provided by the fact that the church at Rome is called “ancient,” the presbyters installed by the Apostles have died (44: 2), and a second generation of presbyters has also passed away (44: 3).

The letter was prompted by a dispute in Corinth, which led to the removal from office of several presbyters. Since none of the presbyters was charged with moral offences, the Church of Rome charges that their removal is high-handed and unjustifiable.

I Clement is lengthy – twice as long as the Epistle to the Hebrews – and includes several references to the Old Testament, including the Book of Judith. The Epistle demonstrates a familiarity with many books of both the Old and New Testaments. It repeatedly refers to the Old Testament as Scripture and quotes both Christ and the Apostle Paul as sources of the same spiritual authority inspired by the Holy Spirit with which I Clement claims to be inspired.

The survival of I Clement within the living tradition of the persecuted, pre-Constantinian Church and the high esteem in which the book was held reveals how I Clement stands firmly within the tradition of the undivided Church. The epistle was publicly read from time to time in the Church at Corinth, and by the 4th century this usage had spread to other churches.

In the 5th century, I Clement was included in the Codex Alexandrinus along with the Old and New Testaments, implying canonical status. However, this canonical status was lost when more stringent qualifications for scriptural canonicity were applied.

Although known from antiquity, the first complete copy of I Clement was only recovered in 1873, 400 years after the Fall of Constantinople, when the Greek Orthodox scholar Philotheos Bryennios found it in the library of the Patriarch of Jerusalem in the Codex Hierosolymitanus, which had once been in Constantinople and was written in 1056.

This work in Greek was translated into at least three languages in ancient times: a translation from the 2nd or 3rd century was found in an 11th century manuscript in the seminary library of Namur, Belgium, and published in 1894; a Syriac manuscript, now at Cambridge University, was found in 1876 and translated in 1899.

In addition, two incomplete Coptic translations have survived in papyrus copies published in 1908 and 1918. The Namur translation (1894) reveals the early date of that Latin manuscript in several ways. JH Breasted says it is “a modification of the text to suit the later spirit of the Roman church.”

I Clement is primarily about Christian ministry. For the author, this has been established by Christ and handed down from the Apostles, along with the Gospel and Christian teaching (42). In Chapter 42, the ministers are described as “bishops and deacons.” In other places, however, Clement uses the term “presbyters.” The Christian ministry clearly stands in an apostolic succession, but the position of the bishop within this ministry lacks the clarity found in later Christian translations.

Chapter 46 and Chapter 58 include interesting Trinitarian phrases: “Have we not all the same God, and the same Christ? Is not the same Spirit of grace shed upon us all?” And in Chapter 58 we read: “As surely as God lives, as Jesus Christ lives, and the Holy Ghost also …” – this second passage was quoted by Basil the Great in his On the Holy Spirit. Apart from Matthew 27: 19 and II Corinthians 13: 13, such clear Trinitarian language is not found in the New Testament.

This second invocation of the Trinity in I Clement leads quickly to a striking liturgical conclusion that prays for peace, the peace that flows from obedience to God, the peace that brings with it healing of all human afflictions (I Clement 59).

II Clement

II Clement was long believed to have been an epistle to the Church in Corinth written by Clement of Rome in the late 1st century. However, Eusebius says Clement “has left us one recognised epistle” (Ecclesiastical History, 3.16).

The earliest external reference to II Clement is by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History in the early 4th century. “It must not be overlooked that there is a second epistle said to be from Clement’s pen, but I have no reason to suppose that it was well known like the first one, since I am not aware that the Early Fathers made any use of it. A year or two ago other long and wordy treatises were put forward as Clement’s work. They contain alleged dialogues with Peter and Apion, but there is no mention whatever of them by early writers, nor do they preserve in its purity the stamp of apostolic orthodoxy.” (Ecclesiastical History, 3.38).

Most modern scholars now believe II Clement is a sermon written ca 140-160 by an anonymous author who was neither the author of I Clement nor Clement of Rome. Nevertheless, it is still generally referred to as II Clement.

II Clement appears to be a transcript of a sermon preached possibly in Corinth. For example, in Chapter 19 the speaker announces that he will read aloud from scripture. While an epistle would typically begin by introducing the sender and recipient, II Clement starts by addressing “Brethren,” and then goes on directly to the sermon. If it is a sermon, II Clement is the earliest surviving Christian sermon, apart from those in the New Testament.

Instead of trying to convert others to Christianity, II Clement appears to be directed at Christians who had converted from paganism. It seems to refer to a past history of idolatry: “[Previously] we were maimed in our understanding – we were worshipping stones and pieces of wood, and gold and silver and copper – all of them made by humans.”

Despite their pagan background, the speaker and listeners in II Clement appear to consider the Jewish texts to be Scripture – the speaker quotes repeatedly from Isaiah and interprets the text. The speaker also regards the words of Jesus as scripture – for example, 2: 4 quotes a saying of Jesus that has parallels in Mark 2: 17, and Matthew 9: 13.

In addition to the canonical literature, the author appears to have had access to Christian writings or oral tradition aside from those in the New Testament. Some quotes attributed to Jesus are found only here – for example, 4: 5. In 5: 2-4, the author quotes a saying of Jesus that is partially found in the New Testament, but the version in II Clement is substantially longer than the version in the New Testament. In the 20th century, a manuscript fragment was discovered that suggests this saying is a quote from the Gospel of Peter. Similarly, II Clement 12 appears to quote the Gospel of Thomas.

Ignatius of Antioch

A colonnade of 14 Corinthian columns on the west side of the Stoa of Smyrna, the only surviving classical site in Izmir. Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote four of his letters, including one to the Church in Smyrna, while he was a prisoner in Smyrna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Ignatius of Antioch (ca 35-110), along with Clement of Rome and Polycarp of Smyrna, is one of the principal Apostolic Fathers. Ignatius (also known as Theophorus, “God-bearer”) was a student or disciple of Saint John the Divine, the Apostle. Pious tradition also says he was one of the children Jesus took in his arms and blessed. He was the third Bishop or Patriarch of Antioch, after Saint Peter and Saint Evodius, who died ca AD 67. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2.3.22). Theodoret makes his apostolic succession even more immediate, saying Saint Peter himself appointed Ignatius as Bishop of Antioch (Dial. Immutab., I.4.33a).

Ignatius was arrested by the authorities and transported to Rome under trying conditions: “I have already been finding myself in conflict with beasts of prey by land and by sea, by night and by day, the whole way from Syria to Rome; chained as I am to half-a-score of savage leopards (in other words, a detachment of soldiers), who only grow more insolent the more gratuities they are given.” – Letter to the Romans, 5.

On his way to Rome and his death, Ignatius encouraged Christians who flocked to meet him. During that journey, he also wrote a series of six letters to the churches in the regions and one to a fellow bishop. These letters, which have been preserved as an example of the theology of the earliest Christians, are written to the churches in Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, Smyrna, and to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. The first were written at Smyrna and the other three were written at Troas. From there, he travelled by sea to Neapolis in Macedonia, and then to Philippi and on to Rome.

These letters were preserved by Polycarp and became well known in the early Church. By the 5th century, Saint Polycarp’s collection had been enlarged by spurious letters, and the original letters had been changed with interpolations, created to posthumously enlist Ignatius in the theological disputes of the day. A detailed but spurious account of the arrest of Ignatius, his sufferings and his martyrdom in the Martyrium Ignatii is presented as an eyewitness account for the church of Antioch, as if written by companions of Ignatius, Philo of Cilicia, deacon at Tarsus, and Rheus Agathopus, a Syrian.

Saint Ignatius of Antioch ... referred to the Church as a “Eucharistic community” which realises its true nature when it celebrates the Eucharist, and defined the Church as the local community gathered around its bishop, celebrating the Eucharist

Although Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656) of Armagh regarded it as genuine, no part of the Martyrium is without questions. The Martyrium presents the confrontation of between Ignatius and Trajan at Antioch and many details of his long voyage to Rome.

Saint Ignatius died as a martyr in the arena. After his martyrdom, his body was taken back to Antioch by his companions. He was first buried outside the city gates, then removed by the Emperor Theodosius II to the Tychaeum, or Temple of Tyche, which was converted into a church dedicated to Ignatius. In 637, his relics were brought to Rome and interred in the Church of San Clemente (Saint Clement).

The letters of Ignatius are an important testimony to the development of theology, since the number of extant writings from this period of church history is very small. They show signs of being written in great haste and without a proper plan. For Archbishop Rowan Williams, the importance of Ignatius lies in his “marking out the ground for a Eucharistic and incarnational devotion which could provide a bulwark against excessive spiritualization or de-historicizing of the gospel.” (Rowan Williams, ‘Ignatius of Antioch,’ in GS Wakefield, The SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (London: SCM Press, 1983/2003), pp 205-206.)

The important topics Ignatius addresses in his letters include ecclesiology, the sacraments and the office and role of bishops. He identifies the local church hierarchy made up of bishop, presbyters, and deacons and claims to have spoken in some of the churches through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He is the second writer after Clement to mention Saint Paul’s epistles.

Ignatius is the first writer to stress loyalty to a single bishop in each city, who is assisted by both presbyters (priests) and deacons. Earlier writings only mention either bishops or presbyters, and give the impression that there was usually more than one bishop for each congregation. Ignatius, therefore, is the first known Christian writer to put great stress on loyalty to a single bishop in each city, who is assisted by both presbyters (priests) and deacons. He referred to the Church as a “Eucharistic community” that realises its true nature when it celebrates the Eucharist, and defined the Church as the local community gathered around its bishop, celebrating the Eucharist:

“Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful to baptise or give communion without the consent of the bishop. On the other hand, whatever has his approval is pleasing to God. Thus, whatever is done will be safe and valid.” – Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8.

Ignatius stressed the value of the Eucharist, calling it “the medicine of immortality, and the sovereign remedy by which we escape death and live in Jesus Christ for evermore” (Letter to the Ephesians 20: 2). He is the first of the Fathers to refer to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He wrote in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans:

“For let nobody be under any delusion; there is judgment in store even for the hosts of heaven, the very angels in glory, the visible and invisible powers themselves, if they have no faith in the blood of Christ. Let him who can absorb this truth. High position is no excuse for pride; it is faith and love that are everything, and these must come before all else. But look at the men who have those perverted notions about the grace of Jesus Christ which has come down to us, and see how contrary to the mind of God they are … They even abstain themselves from the Eucharist and the public prayers, because they will not admit that the Eucharist is the self-same body of our Saviour Jesus Christ which suffered for our sins, and which that Father in his goodness afterwards raised up again. Consequently, since they reject God’s good gifts, they are doomed in their disputatiousness.” – Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6: 1–7: 1 (Staniforth and Louth, p. 102).

Ignatius expresses this again in his Letter to the Romans, ca 110 AD:

“I am fain for the Bread of God, even the flesh of Jesus Christ, who is the seed of David; and for my drink I crave that Blood of His which is love imperishable.” – Letter to the Romans, 7 (Staniforth and Louth, p. 87).

“Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup unto union with His Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice – even as also there is but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors the deacons. That will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God.” – Letter to the Philadelphians, 4, 1 (Staniforth and Louth, p. 94).

Ignatius is the first known Christian writer to argue in favour of Christianity replacing the Sabbath with the Lord’s Day:

“Never allow yourselves to be led astray by false teachings and antiquated and useless fables. Nothing of any use can be got from them. If we are still living in the practice of Judaism, it is an admission that we have failed to receive the gift of grace ... We have seen how former adherents of ancient customs have since attained to a new hope; so that they have given up keeping the Sabbath, and now order their lives by the Lord’s Day instead (the Day when life first dawned for us, thanks to Him and His death … though some deny it ... how can it be possible for us to give Him no place in our lives? ... To profess Jesus Christ while continuing to follow Jewish customs is an absurdity. The Christian faith does not look to Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity.” – Letter to the Magnesians, 8: 1, 9: 1-2, 10: 3 (Staniforth and Louth, pp 72-73).

He is responsible for the first known use of the Greek word katholikos (καθολικός), meaning “universal,” to describe the church, writing: “Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as wherever Jesus Christ is present, we have the catholic Church. Nor is it permissible to conduct baptisms or love-feasts without the bishop. On the other hand, whatever does have his sanction can be sure of God’s approval too. This is the way to make certain of the soundness and validity of anything you do.” – Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8 (Staniforth and Louth, p. 103).

It is from this word katholikos that the word “catholic” is derived. When Ignatius wrote his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, he used the word “catholic” as if it were already in use to describe the Church, leading many to conclude that the term “Catholic Church” with its ecclesial connotations was in use as early as the last quarter of the first century.

Martyrdom is a theme that is uppermost for Ignatius throughout much of his writings. His expression of his desire for martyrdom may seem very strong and graphic today, but an examination of his soteriology shows he regarded salvation as being free from the fear of death and able to bravely face martyrdom. He begs the Church in Rome not to interfere or intercede on his behalf, so that he may “imitate the Passion of my God” (Letter to the Romans, 6: 3). He refers more than one elsewhere to Jesus as theos. The enduring of martyrdom is the final conformation to Christ (Letter to the Romans, 5: 1) – and so to the full measure of humanity (Letter to the Romans, 6: 2).

The most famous quote from Ignatius, however, comes from his Letter to the Romans: “I am writing to all the churches and assuring them that I am truly in earnest about dying for God – if only you yourselves put no obstacles in the way. I must implore you to do me no such untimely kindness; pray leave me to be a meal for the beasts, for it is they who can provide my way to God. I am His wheat, ground fine by the teeth of the lions’ teeth to be made purest bread for Christ.” – Letter to the Romans, 4 (Staniforth and Louth, p. 86).

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

The 42-hectare Kültürpark was laid out on the ruins of the Greek quarter of Smyrna ... Saint Polycarp was Bishop of Smyrna and was martyred there (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (ca 69–ca 155) was a 2nd century Bishop of Smyrna (now Izmir in Turkey), one of the Seven Churches of the Book of Revelation. With Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp is one of the Apostolic Fathers.

It is recorded that “he had been a disciple of John.” According to Tertullian, Polycarp was appointed Bishop of Smyrna by John the Apostle (De Praescriptione 32). Eusebius insists on Polycarp’s apostolic connection with the author of the Fourth Gospel and the Book of Revelation. He was a companion of Papias, another “hearer of John,” and it was to Polycarp that Ignatius of Antioch addressed one of his letters, as well as mentioning him in both his Letter to the Ephesians and his Letter to the Magnesians.

Polycarp’s famous pupil was Irenaeus, for whom Polycarp was a link to the apostolic past (Staniforth and Louth, p. 116). Irenaeus tells how and when he became a Christian, and in his letter to Florinus says he saw and heard Polycarp personally in lower Asia. In particular, Irenaeus says he heard the account of Polycarp’s discussion with John the Evangelist and with others who had seen Jesus. Irenaeus says Polycarp was converted to Christianity by Apostles, was consecrated a bishop and communicated with many who had seen Jesus. He repeatedly emphasises the very great age of Polycarp.

Polycarp visited Rome when his fellow Syrian, Anicetus, was Bishop of Rome, in the 150s or 160s. However, he failed to persuade Anicetus and the Church in Rome to celebrate Easter on 14 Nisan, as in the Eastern Church. For his part, Polycarp rejected the counter suggestion that the East should use the Western date for Easter. Irenaeus states (3.3) that during Polycarp’s visit to Rome his testimony converted many of the disciples of Marcion and Valentinus. In the past, Polycarp’s visit to Rome to meet Anicetus has been used to support Papal claims. However, Polycarp did not accept the authority of the Bishops of Rome to change Passover; instead, they agreed to disagree, both believing their practice to be Apostolic (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 5.24.16).

Polycarp died a martyr’s death after the people of Smyrna demanded his execution as a Christian. The story is told that the flames built to kill him refused to burn him and that when he was stabbed to death, so much blood issued from his body that it quenched the flames around him. In the Martyrdom, Polycarp indicates his age on the day of his death: “Eighty and six years have I served Him” (Martyrdom 9, Staniforth and Louth, p. 128). If this means he was then aged 86, his family had accepted Christianity while he was an infant.

His martyrdom is of particular importance in understanding the position of the Church in the Empire at the time. While the persecution is supported by the local proconsul, the author of the account noted the bloodthirstiness of the crowd in their calls for the death of Polycarp. Additionally, the account demonstrates the complex Roman attitude towards Christianity: the Christians are given the opportunity to recant and are not punished immediately as confessed criminals.

The date of Polycarp’s death is disputed. Eusebius places it in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, 161-180 (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 4.15). However, a later addition to the Martyrdom of Polycarp dates his death to Saturday 23 February when Statius Quadratus was proconsul, which was 155 or 156 (Martyrdom 21).

The earlier dates better fit the tradition of his association with Ignatius of Antioch and John the Evangelist. However, the addition to the Martyrdom cannot be considered reliable on its own merits. Other evidence puts Polycarp’s death at the end of the 160s or even later. Archbishop Ussher, for example, calculated it at 169. Lightfoot argued for the earlier date of Polycarp’s death, although other scholars disagree (see Staniforth and Louth, pp 117-118).

Polycarp’s only surviving work is his Letter to the Philippians, a mosaic of references to the Greek Scriptures. The Letter to the Philippians and an account of The Martyrdom of Polycarp, which takes the form of a circular letter from the church of Smyrna to the churches of Pontus, form part of the collection of the Apostolic Fathers. The Martyrdom is one of the earliest genuine accounts of martyrdom, and one of the very few genuine accounts from the age of persecutions.

The chief sources of information about Polycarp are the Epistles of Ignatius, including one to Polycarp; Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians; passages in Irenaeus’ Adversus Haeresis; and the Letter to the Smyrnaeans, recounting the Martyrdom of Polycarp.

The Didache

Some Church Fathers regarded the Didache as part of the New Testament

The Didache (Greek, Διδαχὴ, "Teaching”) is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars between the year 90 and the early 2nd century. It contains instructions for Christian communities. While the manuscript is commonly referred to as the Didache, this is short for the title used by the Church Fathers, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Διδαχὴ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων).

A fuller subtitle is found next in the manuscript: The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the Twelve Apostles (Διδαχὴ κυρίου διὰ τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων τοῖς ἔθνεσιν). The text, parts of which may have constituted the first written catechism, has three main sections dealing with Baptism and the Eucharist, and Church organisation.

Some of the Church Fathers regarded the Didache as part of the New Testament. It was considered by some of the Church Fathers as part of the New Testament but rejected as spurious by others. Eventually, it was not accepted into the canon of the New Testament, except in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Indications of the text being from the 1st century include the simplicity of the baptismal rite, the simplicity of the Eucharist, in comparison with the elaborate Eucharistic prayer in I Clement (I Clement 59-61), the permission to prophets to extemporise their Eucharistic thanksgiving, and the immediate expectation of the second coming of Christ.

The Didache is mentioned by Eusebius as the Teachings of the Apostles following the books recognised as canonical (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.25). Athanasius (367) lists the Didache among the Deuterocanonical books. The Shepherd of Hermas seems to reflect it, and Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Origen also seem to use the work, and there are echoes of the Didache in Justin Martyr, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Cyprian and Lactantius.

The ‘Didache’ was once considered lost but was rediscovered in 1883 in the library in Constantinople belonging to the Patriarch of Jerusalem

Once considered lost, the Didache was rediscovered in 1883 in the library in Constantinople belonging to the Patriarch of Jerusalem by Philotheos Bryennios, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop of Nicomedia, in the Greek Codex Hierosolymitanus, written in 1053, from which he had already published the full text of the Epistles of Clement (1875).

Shortly after the initial publication by Bryennios, Otto von Gebhardt identified a Latin manuscript in the Abbey of Melik in Austria as containing a translation of the first part of the Didache. Later scholars now believe that to be an independent witness to the tradition of the Two Ways section. In 1900, J. Schlecht found another Latin translation of chapters 1-5, with the longer title, omitting “twelve,” and with the rubric De doctrina Apostolorum. Coptic and Ethiopian translations have also been discovered since the first publication by Bryennios’ original publication.

The second part (chapters 7-10) begins with an instruction on baptism, which is to be conferred “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” in “living water” (that is, natural flowing water), if it can be had – if not, in cold or even warm water.

Fasts are not to be on Monday and Thursday “with the hypocrites” – presumably a reference to non-Christian Jews – but on Wednesday and Friday (Didache 8). Nor must Christians pray with their Judaic brethren; instead they shall say the Lord’s Prayer three times a day. The text of the prayer is not identical to the version in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, and it is given with the doxology “for thine is the power and the glory for ever,” while all but a few manuscripts of Saint Matthew’s Gospel have this interpolation with “the kingdom and the power,” etc.

The Shepherd of Hermas

The Good Shepherd ... a stained glass window in Saint Mark’s Church, Armagh (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Shepherd of Hermas (Ποιμὴν τοῦ Ἑρμᾶ) was written in Greek in Rome in the second century. It was popular in the early Church, had great authority in the second and third centuries, and was even considered Scriptural by some early Church Fathers, including Irenaeus and Tertullian. It was bound with the New Testament in the Codex Sinaiticus, and it was listed between the Acts of the Apostles and the Acts of Paul in the stichometrical list of the Codex Claromontanus.

An early Latin translation was once claimed as the work of the original author, though this is disputed this. However, only the Latin version has been preserved in full, and the last one-fifth of the text is missing from the Greek version.

The evidence for the place and date of this work are found in the language and theology of the Shepherd. The reference to Clement I suggests a date between 88 and 97 for at least the first two visions. Since Paul sent greetings to Hermas, a Christian of Rome (Romans 16: 14), Origen suggested that this Hermas was the author of the Shepherd. However, textual criticism, the theology, and the author’s apparent familiarity with Revelation and other Johannine texts, put the date of composition in the 2nd century.

Three ancient witnesses, one of whom claims to be contemporary, described Hermas was the brother of Pius I, who was Bishop of Rome not earlier than 140-155, which corresponds to the date range offered by Lightfoot (1891). The witnesses are the Muratorian Fragment, written ca 170, the Liberian Catalogue of Popes, and a poem written against Marcion in the 3rd or 4th century.

The Shepherd of Hermas comprises five visions granted to Hermas, a former slave. This is followed by 12 mandates or commandments and 10 similitudes or parables. It relies on allegory and pays special attention to the Church, calling the faithful to repent of the sins that have harmed it. Despite its grave subjects, the Shepherd is written in a very optimistic and hopeful tone, like most early Christian works.

The Shepherd of Hermas commences abruptly in the first person: “He who brought me up sold me to a certain Rhoda, who was at Rome. After many years I met her again, and began to love her as a sister.”

As Hermas was on the road to Cumae, he had a vision of Rhoda, who was presumably dead. She told him that she was his accuser in heaven, on account of an unchaste thought the (married) narrator had once had concerning her, though only in passing. He was to pray for forgiveness for himself and all his household. He is consoled by a vision of the Church in the form of an aged woman, weak and helpless from the sins of the faithful, who tells him to do penance and to correct the sins of his children. Subsequently he sees her made younger through penance, yet wrinkled and with white hair; then again, as quite young but still with white hair; and lastly, she shows herself as glorious as a Bride.

This allegorical language continues in the other parts of the Shepherd.

In the second vision, she gives Hermas a book, which she afterwards takes back in order to add to it. The fifth vision, which is represented as taking place 20 days after the fourth, introduces “the Angel of repentance” in the guise of a shepherd, from whom the whole work takes its name. He delivers to Hermas a series of precepts (mandata, entolai), which form an interesting development of early Christian ethics. One point which deserves special mention is the assertion of a husband’s obligation to take back an adulterous wife on her repentance.

The eleventh mandate, on humility, is concerned with false prophets who desire to occupy the first seats (that is to say, among the presbyters). Some have seen here a reference to Marcion, who came to Rome ca 140 and desired to be admitted among the priests.

After the mandates, there are 10 similitudes (parabolai) in the form of visions that are explained by the angel. Similitude 9, the longest of these, is an elaboration of the parable of the building of a tower, which had formed the matter of the third vision. The tower is the Church, and the stones of which it is built are the faithful. But in the third vision it looked as though only the holy are a part of the Church. In Similitude 9, it is pointed out that all of the baptised are included, though they may be cast out for grave sins, and can be readmitted only after penance.


3, 10.30 a.m., 10 March 2014: The Greek Fathers

4, 11.30 a.m., 10 March 2014: The Latin Fathers

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor, Trinity College Dublin. This lecture on 3 March 2014 was part of the Year I MTh module, Introduction to Patristics.