Early Church History

If the Old and New Testaments were not enough, look at the earliest Apostolic Fathers and you will see they were primarily in the Anatolian region of modern Turkey. Many of the ancient texts relating to the earliest churches were discovered or written by men from these old areas.

The Didache was found by a Bishop from Nicomedia, who lived in the area of ancient Bithynia.  Written in the 1st century the oldest text of the Letter of Barnabas was found in an old church in Istanbul.

Early Church Father and martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, wrote letters to the earliest Christian communities in Anatolia at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Philadelphia, Smyrna. He also penned a personal letter to Polycarp of Smyrna which added to our understanding of early Christian beliefs and practices.

Polycarp, who heard the Apostle John speak, wrote a theological letter/epistle while in Smyrna and became famous since his martyrdom was one of the early churches’ oldest recorded scandalous events.

Papias of Hierapolis (Laodecia) possibly heard the Apostle John and was a friend of Polycarp.

Many others wrote from the Asia Minor region (Euphrates, Phrygia, Patara ( Mediterranean coast), and Sardis) during the earliest beginnings of the Church.  The earliest Church Councils (Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon) which influenced Christian doctrine for every Christian denomination all took place in this historically rich region.

Some of the prominent theologians and preachers in ancient times were from the area such as, Evagrius of Pontus,  the three Cappadocian Fathers – Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianz, and Gregory of Nyssa, Amphilochius of Iconium, Theodore of Mopsuestia (Tarsus), and John Chrysostom of Antioch/Constantinople.

After the Apostles, Christianity in the early centuries was rooted and grew first in ancient Anatolia (eastern Turkey).  What a place, where the Garden of Eden was located, where Noah settled, where Job supposedly lived and died, where Abraham dwelt, where the Apostle Paul grew up and traveled, where believers were first called Christians, and  where the early church flourished, was persecuted, and hammered out her theology.

Dr. David V. Cathey is a Christian Professor and the Director of the Ephesus Learning Center, Selcuk (Ephesus), Turkey.