?As we celebrate our fathers, we also talk about fathers of things, such as George Washington being the father of the United States.

In Christianity, there are church fathers, which the American Heritage Dictionary says are “any of the authoritative early writers in the Christian church who formulated doctrines and codified religious observances.”

This encompasses a large number of people, but Christopher A. Hall in “Reading Scripture With the Church Fathers” selects eight — four each from the eastern and western church — as an introduction.


Athanasius: He was the bishop of Alexandria and spent a lot of time writing unpopular pieces against the Arians, who denied the divinity of Christ.

Gregory of Nazianzus: Known for sermons and poetry, he served as bishop of Constantinople and was a Cappadocian father. He was friends with several other church fathers.

Basil the Great: A Cappadocian father and bishop of Caesarea, he founded a monastic group. He pushed concepts about the Trinity at the Council of Nicea.

John Chrysostom: The bishop of Constantinople, he was known for being orthodox and eloquent.


Ambrose: He was the bishop of Milan and taught Augustine. He defended the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

Jerome: Jerome translated the Bible in the Latin edition known as the Vulgate.

Augustine: The bishop of Hippo was a prolific writer whose work is the basis of much of the western church teachings.

Gregory the Great: This pope was known for many writings and for unifying the church. He also is responsible for Gregorian chant.

If you’d like to read work by these men, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture offers excerpts of their writings on specific passages. And of course, a Web search will help also.