Five Early Doctors

Early Doctors of the Church

The text below is from Wikipedia.

Doctor of the Church (Latin doctor “teacher”) is a title given by the Catholic Church to saints whom they recognize as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine.

In the Western church four eminent “Fathers of the Church” attained this honour in the early Middle Ages: Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, and Saint Jerome. The “four Doctors” became a commonplace among the Scholastics, and a decree of Boniface VIII (1298) ordering their feasts to be kept as doubles in the whole Church is contained in his sixth book of Decretals (cap. “Gloriosus”, de relique. et vener. sanctorum, in Sexto, III, 22).[1]

In the Latin Church, the four Latin Doctors “had already long been recognized” in the liturgy when the four Great Doctors of the Eastern Church, John ChrysostomBasil the GreatGregory of Nazianzus, and Athanasius of Alexandria were recognized in 1568 by Pope St. Pius V.


Athanasius (c. 296–298 – 2 May 373) is counted as one of the four great Eastern Doctors of the Church in the Roman Catholic Church.[3] In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is labeled as the “Father of Orthodoxy”. Some Protestants label him as “Father of the Canon”. Athanasius is venerated as a Christian saint, whose feast day is 2 May in Western Christianity, 15 May in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and 18 January in the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. He is venerated by the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutherans, and the Anglican Communion.


Basil of Caesarea, also called Saint Basil the Great (330 – 379), was an influential theologian who supported the Nicene Creed and opposed the heresies of the early Christian church, fighting against both Arianism and the followers of Apollinaris of Laodicea. In addition to his work as a theologian, Basil was known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. Basil established guidelines for monastic life which focus on community life, liturgical prayer, and manual labour. He is remembered as a father of communal monasticism in Eastern Christianity.  Basil is considered a saint by the traditions of both Eastern and Western Christianity. His feast day is January 2nd.


Ambrose (c. 340 – 4 April 397), was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was the Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan, before being made bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374.  was one of the four original Doctors of the Church, and is the patron saint of Milan. He is notable for his influence on Augustine of Hippo.


Jerome (c. 27 March 347 – 30 September 420)  is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate), and his commentaries on the Gospels. He is recognised as a Saint and Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion.[7]


Augustine (13 November 354 – 28 August 430) is recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church, the Eastern Christian Church, and the Anglican Communion and as a preeminent Doctor of the Church. He is also the patron of the Augustinians.


Gregory (c. 540 – 12 March 604) is a Doctor of the Church and one of the Latin Fathers. He is considered a saint in the Catholic ChurchEastern Orthodox ChurchAnglican Communion, and some Lutheran denominations. Immediately after his death, Gregory was canonized by popular acclaim.[5] The Protestant reformer John Calvin admired Gregory and declared in his Institutes that Gregory was the last good pope.[6] 



For the class/discussion, in addition the Bible, unabridged Revised Standard Version, we will use the following books:

  1. Athanasius – Khaled Anatolios
  2. Basil – Stephen Hildebrand
  3. Ambrose – Boniface Ramsey O.P.
  4. Jerome – Stefan Rebenich
  5. The Confessions – Augustine  (Everyman Library edition)
  6. Gregory the Great – George Demacopoulos


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