What the Earliest Christians Wrote About the Eucharist

Under my last post, a discussion ensued regarding the early patristic writers and the Roman Catholic Eucharistic liturgy. I made the following claim:

No writer in the first 300 years ever presented Christ’s death to the father. No writing ever instructs the church to offer Christ’s body and blood to the father. It does not exist anywhere. It simply does not exist in [early] history. It is an idolatrous anachronistic heresy.

Bardelys the Magnificent responded by informing us…

As well sourced as this post was, Derek of all people would know that there’s just as much, if not more, evidence on the other side (Fisheaters has a great write-up on the eucharist)

…about Roman Catholic apologist Fisheater’s defense of the Eucharist in “What the Earliest Christians Wrote About the Eucharist.”

I am also, indeed, aware that Roman Catholics cite the majority of the patristic writings as a defense of their own positions, even though I also cite those same writings against those same positions! So, given my claims regarding the early church, FishEaters at least appears to directly refute my statements.

For those who do not know, FishEaters is a Catholic Italian-American laywoman apologist. Although some of my readers may reject any teachings that come from a woman (because woman are “not supposed to teach”), I do not share their concern. Anyone who is not interested can just abandon the blog for a few weeks, or however long it takes to do the whole list.

Over the next many posts, I’ll be discussing the early writings one at a time: those that are mentioned in that article as well those early sources that are missing from her list. With one article per source, it will be much easier to keep the discussion focused on each source while also allowing me to update articles to correct errors and add or replace evidence.

Although we will be examining some writings that are more recent than the first 300 years of the church, nonetheless, at the end of this series we will revisit my opening claim to see if it still has merit. I’d like to know what everyone else thinks too.

  • Part 1: Introduction
  • Part 2: The Didache
  • Part 3: Justin Martyr
  • Part 4: Ignatius of Antioch
  • Part 5: Clement of Rome
  • Part 6: Irenaeus of Lyons
  • Part 7: Clement of Alexandria
  • Part 8: …Interlude…
  • Part 9: Tertullian
  • Part 10: Origen of Alexandria
  • Part 11: Cyprian of Carthage
  • Part 12: Hippolytus of Rome
  • Part 13: Aphrahat the Persian Sage
  • Part 14: …Interlude…
  • Part 15: Athenagoras of Athens
  • Part 16: Apostolic Constitutions
  • Part 17: …Interlude…
  • Part 18: Athanasius of Alexandria
  • Part 19: Ephraim the Syrian
  • Part 20: Cornelius of Rome
  • Part 21: Eusebius of Caesarea
  • Part 22: Dionysius of Alexandria
  • Part 23: Gregory of Nyssa
  • Part 24: Cyril of Jerusalem
  • Part 25: Gregory Nazianzus
  • Part 26: Lactantius
  • Part 27: …Interlude…
  • Part 28: Basil of Caesarea
  • Part 29: Serapion of Thmuis
  • Part 30: John Chrysostom
  • Part 31: Ambrose of Milan
  • Part 32: …Interlude…
  • Part 33: Macarius the Elder
  • Part 34: Hilary of Poitiers
  • Part 35: First Council of Nicaea
  • Part 36: Irenaeus, Revisited
  • Part 37: Augustine
  • Part 38: Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • Part 39: Conclusion

If there is any source missing from the list that you would like me to discuss, let me know in the comments.

Although I look at a lot of primary sources and draw many conclusions of my own directly from the primary and secondary sources myself, a large amount of research has already been performed by former Roman Catholic Timothy F. Kauffman. I borrow heavily from the work published on his blog. As I’ve read every article on his site, it would be impossible for me to know which ideas are purely my own vs. which ideas have been borrowed from him. When in doubt, assume the latter.

That said, it would not be possible for me to write this series without his years of extensive research, which I merely expand upon. In particular, his work at sifting through the thousands-upon-thousands of pages of material has been invaluable, for I simply do not have the time or resources to do all that research myself.

For those who want to read more of Roman Catholic FishEaters’ apologetics work on the Eucharist, here are some selected works:

See also:

One Comment

  1. Pingback: The Eucharist, Part 11: Cyprian of Carthage

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