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The Early Church Fathers on the Holy Scriptures.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440)
    Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496)
    Andrew of Cæsarea, (A.D. 563 - 637)
    Councils of Toledo, (from the 5th to 7th century)
Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417) was pope from (A.D. 401 to 417), he lost no opportunity in maintaining and extending the authority of the Roman See as the ultimate resort for the settlement of all disputes.

In his letter to Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, we have the Roman catalogue of the books of the Old and New Testament, as follows:

"What books are received in the canon of the Holy Scriptures, this brief addition shows. These, therefore, are the writings which you have with your beloved voice desired to be informed of. Five books of Moses, that is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; and one book of Joshua the son of Nun, of Judges one; of the Kingdoms four books, together also with Ruth. Of the prophets sixteen books: of Solomon five books: the Psalter. Of histories: of Job one book; of Tobias one; of Esther one; of Judith one; of the Machabees two; of Esdras two; of Paralipomenon two. Likewise of the New Testament, the four books of the Gospels, etc. . . .

[Having given our catalogue of the New Testament, he adds :]

But the other books, which are (circulated), whether under the name of Matthias, or of James the less, or under the name of Peter and of John, which were written by one Leucius, or under the name of Andrew, which are by the philosophers Xenocharis and Leonidas, or under the name of Thomas, and if there be any other such, they are not only to be repudiated, but know that they are even to be condemned."

Ep. ad Exuper. n. 7, p. 1256, t. ii. Labb. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 332

St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

"In (receiving) the Scriptures (as) canonical, let him follow the authority of the greater number of Catholic churches, amongst which churches assuredly let those be which have merited to have apostolic sees, and to receive epistles from Apostles, He will adhere to this method as regards canonical Scriptures, — he will prefer those Scriptures which are received by all Catholic churches, to those which some churches do not receive: whilst, as regards those which are not received by all, he will prefer those which the greater number and the more eminent of the churches receive, to those which are received by the smaller number, and by churches of less authority. But if he should find some received by the greater number of churches, others by the more eminent, — though he cannot easily meet with this, — I think that such Scriptures are to be accounted of equal authority. Now, the entire canon of the Scriptures, in regard of which we say that the above considerations are to be applied, is comprised in these books: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; one book of Joshua the son of Nun; one of Judges; one small tract called Ruth, which seems rather to belong to the beginning of the Kingdoms; next, the four books of the Kingdoms, and two of the Paralipomenon. These books are a history, which contains a connected account of the times, and of the order of the events. There are other books, which seem of a different class, and are neither connected with the preceding class, nor with each other; such is Job, such Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Machabees, and two of Esdras, which seem rather more to follow up that regular course of history, which closed with the Kingdoms, or the Paralipomenon: next follow the prophetical writings, amongst which are one book of the Psalms of David; and three books of Solomon, the Proverbs, the Canticle of Canticles, and Ecclesiastes. For those two books, one entitled Wisdom, and the other Ecclesiasticus, are said to be Solomon's, on account of a certain resemblance (to his writings); but they are very uniformly declared to have been written by Jesus, the son of Sirach, which books, however, since they have merited to be received into authority, are to be reckoned amongst the prophetical writings. The rest are the books of those who are properly called prophets: the several books of the twelve prophets, which, connected with each other, as they are never separated, are reckoned one book: the names of these prophets are, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Michaeas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachy: next are the four prophets who have left us volumes of greater length; Isaias, Jeremias, Daniel, Ezechiel. In these forty-four books is comprised the authority of the Old Testament.

[Then follows a list of the usual books of the New Testamert.]

In all these books the God-fearing and the pious seek the will of God."

T. iii. l.ii. De Doctrina Christiana, n. 12-14, (al. 8-9), col. 47-49.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 330-331

St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"The book of the Apocalypse which John the wise wrote, and which has been honored by the approval of the fathers."

T. 1, I. v. De Ador. in Sp. et Ver. p. 188.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 437

St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440), a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, he was born in Egypt to a prominent Alexandrian family. He became an ascetic, and moved to a mountain near the city of Pelusium, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers; known to us for his letters, written to Cyril of Alexandria, Theodosius II, and a host of others. His letters display great judgment, precision, and learning.

"The sacred volumes which contain the testimonies of the divine writings, are steps whereby to ascend to God. All these books, therefore, that are set before thee in the Church of God, receive as tried gold, they having been tried in the fire by the divine Spirit of the truth. But leave aside those which are scattered about without the Church,"

L. 1, Ep. ccclxix. Gyro, p. 96, Paris. 1638.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 33

Pope St. Gelasius I, (unknown - A.D. 496) was pope from A.D. 492 until his death in A.D. 496; prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. His reign was characterized by a call for strict orthodoxy.

In the first council of Rome, held in A.D. 494, there is a canon of the Old and New Testament, which is prefaced as follows:

"The order of the books of the Old Testament, which the holy and Catholic Roman Church receives and venerates, arranged by blessed Gelasius I, Pope, together with seventy bishops."

[Then follows the list of the books of the old law, as in our canon, with the exception that in some manuscripts one book only of the Machabees is named, in others two books are given. The catalogue of the writings of the New Testament is the same, in every respect, as that used in our Church.]

Thus was the canon of Scripture finally determined in the churches of Africa and of Rome. Nearly a similar canon was also eventually received in all the churches, whether orthodox or schismatical, in the east; and, in the other portions of the Western Church, the Roman canon was gradually accepted as authoritative. By the labors, especially of Origen in the east, and of St. Jerome in the west, encouraged by St. Damasus, as also by the learned expositions of others among the fathers, those of St. Chrysostom and of St. Augustine particularly, was the purity of the sacred text preserved, or restored, and its meaning elucidated: and by their labors, and those of their successors, have authentic copies of the Scriptures, in the great points of faith and morality, been transmitted to us in, and by, the Church, which applauded and sanctioned the successful efforts of those learned men in the cause of religious truth.

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 332-333

Andrew of Cæsarea, (A.D. 563 - 637), Greek; theological writer and bishop of Cæsarea, known for his commentary on the Book of Revelation which is the oldest Greek patristic commentary on that book of the Bible. He succeeded St. Basil.

"Now I think it superfluous to treat at length of the credibility and authority of this book (the Apocalypse). For it is well known that those blessed men and fathers of ours, Gregory the Theologian, Cyril of Alexandria, and others more ancient than they, as Papias, Irenseus, Methodius, and Hippolytus, have, on more than one occasion, declared it to be divine and deserving of credit, and we have, on account of what is contained in their works, come to the same conclusion."

Comm. in Apoc. Proaem. p. 590, col. 2, Bib. Max. PP.t.v.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 436-437

Councils of Toledo (from the 5th to 7th century). about thirty synods or councils were held at Toledo in what would come to be part of Spain. The earliest, directed against Priscilianism, assembled in 400. The "third" synod of 589 marked the epoch-making conversion of King Reccared from Arianism to orthodox Catholicism. The "fourth," in 633, probably under the presidency of St. Isidore of Seville, regulated many matters of discipline, decreed uniformity of liturgy throughout the kingdom.

This council, which was held in the year A.D. 400, thus defines:

"If any one shall say, or shall believe, that other Scriptures, besides those which the Catholic Church has received, are to be esteemed of authority, or to be venerated, let him be anathema."

Can. xii. col. 1228; t. ii. Labb. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 330



From the testimony and authority of the Catholic Church all Christians receive the Sacred Scriptures, and believe them to contain the revealed Word of God.

From the Jews, who had preserved them with religions care, the Christian Church received the books of the Old Testament, but it would not be until latter that the canon would be fixed.
Only after mature deliberation, and a collation of the scattered evidences, was the Canon of Sacred Scriptures canonized and universally acknowledged at the Council of Rome in A.D. 382.


Old Testament New Testament
Genesis Proverbs Matthew
Exodus Ecclesiastes Mark
Leviticus Song of Songs Luke
Numbers Wisdom John
Deuteronomy Sirach Acts
Joshua Isaiah Romans
Judges Jeremiah 1 Corinthians
Ruth Lamentations 2 Corinthians
1 Samuel Baruch Galatians
2 Samuel Ezekiel Ephesians
1 Kings Daniel Philippians
2 Kings Hosea Colossians
1 Chronicles Joel 1 Thessalonians
2 Chronicles Amos 2 Thessalonians
Ezra Obadiah 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy
Nehemiah Jonah Titus
Tobit Micah Philemon
Judith Nahum Hebrews
Esther Habakkuk James
1 Maccabees Zephaniah 1 Peter, 2 Peter
2 Maccabees Haggai 1 John, 2 John, 3 John
Job Zechariah Jude
Psalms Malachi Revelation



The books of the New Testament, after the ascension of our Savior, were written under various, often accidental, circumstances, and on various occasions: the Gospels, principally:

      • to satisfy the laudable wishes of many, who were naturally desirous to be informed of the facts of our Savior's life;
      • to impress His admirable lessons on their minds;
      • to perpetuate His words; and
      • to oppose the wild conceptions of some dissatisfied men.

The Acts of the Apostles were written to record the first preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles, and the interesting events of the labors of St. Paul; and


The Epistles, for the further instruction, generally, of those who had been converted to Christianity, and to strengthen them in the arduous duties of their new calling.

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