Who were they?
The Church Fathers were significant Christian people who lived in the early centuries of Christianity, usually during the first eight Centuries. They were bishops, priests, monks, teachers, theologians, and scholars who left reliable writings. These writings were later on used as sources to answer difficult questions and in worship. Many scholars and Churches, e.g., Orthodox and Catholic Churches, still study and use their writings in prayers and devotions until this day.
Their writings covered many topics, including; bible commentary, Christian dogma, apologetics, Christian behaviour, and sermons on Church occasions, e.g. Christmas.
Scholars categorise their writings by the time in history they lived in. For example, the fathers who lived before the Council of Nicaea were called Ante-Nicene Fathers. The writings are further classified by where the Fathers lived. In 395 C.E., the Roman Empire was officially divided into two parts: the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. Therefore, the fathers who lived in the Western part were called Western Fathers, and those who lived in the Eastern part were called Eastern Fathers. The West mainly used the Latin language, and the East used the Greek language. Scholars sought this classification because each part of the empire was dominated by a culture, language, and philosophical and theological school of thought different from the other part. Hence, each part would understand and interpret the Bible and Christian writings differently from the other one. For example, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, an Eastern father from Egypt, would provide some logic and argument on a topic that would be explained very differently by a Western Father, such as St. Augustine of Hippo, who lived in modern-day Algeria. Furthermore, the fathers would disagree on a topic while they would be saying the same thing. This eventually caused conflicts and divisions, such as the Chalcedonian Schism.