Adoptionism. The view that Jesus Christ was a good man whom God adopted as his son but who was not in nature divine.
Ante-Nicene. The period before the Council of Nicaea which met in A.D. 325.
Apocrypha. Books written in imitation of biblical books or claiming to preserve material from biblical times but not accepted by the church as genuine.
Apologists. Defenders of the Christian faith who wrote against paganism and Judaism.
Catechumenate. The period of instruction preparatory to baptism.
Church Orders. A class of documents giving instructions about the life, worship, and organization of the church.
Codex. The book form of binding leaves of a manuscript together in contrast to rolls.
Docetism. The view that Jesus Christ only seemed to be a real human being (the Greek dokeō means “to seem” or “appear”) but was a wholly spiritual being.
Doctor. A teacher; the title is restricted to the outstanding, authoritative teachers of the ancient church.
Doxology. A word of praise offered to the Deity.
Eastern Church. The church in the eastern part of the Mediterranean world and further east, which in the early period developed mainly in areas of Greek cultural influence.
Ecumenical. Universal or world-wide.
Encratite. The tendency to extremes of self-control in abstention from marriage and animal food.
Eucharist. From “thanksgiving,” and used in the early church for the whole service of the Lord’s supper.
Fathers. The spiritual leaders of the early church.
Gnosticism. The movement which emphasized salvation by revealed “knowledge” and de-emphasized the historical and material aspects of Christian doctrine.
Heresy. From the meaning of a self-chosen viewpoint held to the point of making a division, it came to refer to false doctrine.
Homily. A popular or familiar form of address; a sermon.
Liturgy. Divine service, especially used of the fixed forms of worship which emerged through traditional usage.
Metropolitans. Bishops of the major cities accorded a higher rank than other bishops.
Modalism. The view that there is only one person in the Godhead who assumes different modes of self-revelation (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in the history of salvation.
Monepiscopacy. The form of organization in the church where there is only one bishop in a congregation presiding over the presbyters and deacons.
Montanism. A movement originating in Asia Minor in the later second century which sought to revive prophecy in the church and practiced rigorous moral standards.
Papyrus. A writing material similar to paper made from the papyrus plant which flourished in the Nile valley of Egypt.
Patriarchs. The title which came to be accorded to the bishops of five principal churches–Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
Post-Nicene. The period after the first ecumenical council at Nicaea in A.D. 325.
Presbyter. The spelling in English letters of the Greek word for elder.
Quartodeciman. The observance of the resurrection of Christ on the fourteenth of the month Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it fell on; this accommodation to Jewish Passover reckoning was repudiated by the church at large which insisted that the annual commemoration of the resurrection should be on the nearest Sunday.
Schism. A division over matters of practice where the basic doctrines were the same.
Western Church. The church in the western part of the Mediterranean world which developed under Roman (or Latin) cultural influences.