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Lecture – Professor Paul Foster

October 7, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Prof Paul Foster

Special offer – buy a 2023/24 season lecture pass, and attend all four lectures for the price of three. Season pass on EventBrite

Meet the Apostolic Fathers: Christianity in the first half of the Second Century (live lecture)

During the first and second centuries a group of miscellaneous Christian leaders wrote down their understanding of the meaning of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection. These authors were considered by later Biblical scholars to be the next generation of Apostles and as a result were named The Apostolic Fathers, and their works are considered by many to be the most important collection of post-New Testament writings. Indeed a number of these texts were considered for inclusion in the New Testament, but later rejected. Their obvious significance stems from the fact that they are the first Christian writings produced outside the New Testament Canon and as such contain an essential insight into the development of the early Christian Church and Christian thinking. Much Christian Doctrine came, not from the New Testament, but from the writings produced by the early church and in particular the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Therefore, these texts are crucial to an understanding of the shaping of Christian thought and Christian doctrine.

This lecture is the rescheduled March lecture.

Speaker Bio

Prof Paul Foster’s says:

My motivation for undertaking theological studies was to be able to read the Bible in its original languages. Although achieving this goal was not something that was quickly realised, the benefits have been enormous. Reading the New Testament in the very words that the authors penned opens up new horizons of understanding, it helps one see the original writers’ concerns more clearly, and brings the world of the New Testament alive.

I enjoy working across a range of New Testament and Early Christian literature, since that permits a holistic view of the development and emergence of the early Jesus movement. In particular in relation to the New Testament, I have worked on pre-gospel sources such as Q, and the M source although I am sceptical that the latter ever existed as a coherent source. In relation to the New Testament writing a long-term interest is the Gospel of Matthew, and several letters of Paul including Colossians and the Thessalonian epistles. Furthermore, the phenomenon of wider gospel literature, known as the non-canonical gospels, is also another area that has fascinated me as a window into the piety of early believers. I have written extensively on the text known as the Gospel of Peter, as well as a range of other non-canonical gospels.

A final major area of interest in my academic biography is collection of writings known as the Apostolic Fathers. These writings reflect the emergence of structures that became foundational in the early church. The writings of Ignatius and Polycarp depict early Christianity in the first half of the second century.

Together these interests permit an overview of Christianity in the first two centuries of its existence.


October 7, 2023
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Event Category:


St Mark’s Church
Leeds Road
Harrogate, HG2 8AY United Kingdom
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