52 Jurist 44 (1992)
The Catholicity of the Church in the New Testament and in the Early Patristic Period

handle is hein.journals/juristcu52 and id is 50 raw text is: THE JURIST 52 (1992) 44-70

THE CATHOLICITY OF THE CHURCH IN
THE NEW TESTAMENT AND IN THE EARLY
PATRISTIC PERIOD
MICHAEL A. FAHEY, S.J.*
The title assigned for this study is The Catholicity of the Church in
the New Testament and in the Early Patristic Period. The Spanish and
French formulation of the subject matter refers to the primera or
primitive patristic period. When does primitive cease to be prim-
itive? I have chosen to extend that designation early (primitive) up
to the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in A.D. 325. The task is
considerable; namely, to review a selection of texts or salient events
from a total of nine generations. The period that I retrace predates
Jerome, Augustine, Chalcedon, Chrysostom, the Cappadocians, and
Leo the Great.
I discuss both literary documents of Christian origin as well as ob-
servable actions taken by church members between the years A.D. 33
to A.D. 325, date of the first ecumenical council. This span of three
hundred years between the death of Jesus and Emperor Constantine's
rule in Byzantium is a considerably lengthy period which includes parts
of and whole centuries: the first, second, third and fourth centuries.
However, my colleague Vittorio Peri has been asked to address the
Roman tradition during the first millennium, A.D. 33 to 1000; my task
is less challenging than his.
In discussing this segment of church history, I prefer to proceed not
by centuries, which are rather artificial divisions, but to proceed by
generations, time-frames closer to our own biological nature. If one
designates a generation as thirty-three years, then one is asked to con-
centrate on nine generations. Much transpired in the interim. Generally
people have clear personal recollections of only four generations at the
most, a time-frame which would include the memory of one's grand-
* Professor of Theology, Saint Michael's College, University of Toronto, Can-
ada.

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