Christian History

Strangers and Pilgrims: Reading the Apostolic Fathers

This Church History course is taught by Dr. Michael J. Lynch. View the syllabus here.

In this course, students will carefully read and discuss the writings of the Apostolic Fathers – from the letters of Ignatius and the Didache to the enigmatic Shepherd of Hermas – appreciating their own unique historical and theological contributions within the turbulent context of early Christianity.


This Church History course is taught by Dr. Michael J. Lynch, and will run from September 28 through December 11. View the syllabus here.
Christian theologians throughout history have looked to the earliest writings of the Church for a vision of Christianity nourished by the apostolic teachings and untainted by later corruptions. Indeed, Thomas Aquinas once claimed that those theologians closest to Christ’s first coming were best educated in the mysteries of our faith. Even if this is not the case, what is true is that the Apostolic Fathers, those Christian ministers and theologians directly tied to the Apostles themselves, provide a fascinating window into early Christian belief and practice.
In this course, we will carefully read and discuss the following writings: 1 & Clement, the Letters of Ignatius and Polycarp, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Didache, the Epistles of Barnabas and Diognetus, and the Shepherd of Hermas. Students will learn to critically assess what we can and cannot conclude about the nature of the early Church and apostolic teaching from these writings, and to glean their distinctive theological insights within the turbulent context of early Christianity.
Dr. Lynch (Ph.D, Calvin Seminary) teaches Humanities, Theology, Latin, and Greek at Delaware Valley Classical School in New Castle, DE.
Online only, runs 10 weeks, meeting 2 hrs./wk. via videoconference + online discussion board. Register to reserve your spot and schedule will be set after a poll of participating students; if the class time does not fit your schedule, you will be eligible for a full refund. Note: all classes are offered dependent on demand and require a minimum of four participating students.