Fathers Of The Patres Ecclesiae (Church), those Christian teachers and writers, from the 2d to the 18th century, who were eminent for their orthodoxy, genius, and beneficent influence upon the church. They were preceded by the apostolic fathers, and include several of the scholastic doctors. Protestants usually limit the title to those ecclesiastical writers who lived between the 2d and 6th centuries. That department of theological study which embraces the life, writings, and doctrines of the church fathers is termed patristics or patrol-ogy, and is both curious and valuable with reference to exegesis, dogmas, and church history. The most distinguished of the Greek fathers recognized by Protestants are Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Eusebius of Cresarea, Chrysostom, and Theodoret; of the Latin fathers, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Lactantius, Cyprian, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great. The Roman Catholics exclude from this list Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius, on account of the heterodoxy of some of their works, but add to it John of Damascus, Peter Damian, Anselm, Bernard, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventura, and others of the early mediaeval theologians.
Most of the patristic writings have been several times edited separately, and the careful Benedictine editions are still esteemed among the best. Of the general collections, the most important are the Maxima Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum (27 vols., Leyden, 1077), containing the Greek lathers in a Latin translation, and valuable notices of mediaeval theologians; the Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum et Antiquorum Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum, by Galland (14 vols., Venice, 1765-'81); the Patrologm Cursus Completue, by the abbe Migne (the most extensive of all collections, in 389 vols., Paris, 1840-,67); and the collection by Cardinal Mai, Nova Collectio (10 vols. 4to, Rome, 1825-'38), Sp'icilegium Romanum (10 vols. 8vo, 1839-'44), and Nova Patrum Bibliotheca (7 vols. 4to, 1844-'53). A collection by Combetis, Bibliotheca Patrum Concionatoria (8 vols, fob, Paris, 1662), was to be republished in 30 vols. 8vo, but only the first volume has appeared (1852). Collections of extracts were made by Grabe (Oxford, 1098), Rosier (Leipsic, 1770-80), Guillon (Paris, 1833-'40), and Thilo (Leipsic, 1853-'4). Among the best aids to patristic studies are Mohler's Patrologie (Ratis-bon, 1839-'40), Engelhardt's Leitfaden zu pa-tristischen Vorlesungen (Erlangen, 1822), and Charpentier's Etudes sur les peres de l'Eglise (Paris, 1853). In 1839 a " Library of Translations from the Fathers," edited by E. B. Pusey, John Keble, and C. Marriott, was commenced at Oxford, of which about 40 volumes have appeared.