The African school of patristic writers, of which Tertullian is at once the earliest and the most imposing figure, and of which he was indeed to a large degree the direct founder, continued for a century after his death to include the main literary production of Latin Christianity.
The monks fattened on all the luxuries which then were known; they neglected the rules of their order and lived in idleness, spending their time in the chase, or in taverns and brothels. Hardly a great scholar or theologian had arisen among them since the Patristic age, with the exception of a few schoolmen like Anselm and Peter Lombard.
As the Acts are not quoted from prior to A.D. 177, and their writer is only traditionally claimed to be Luke, we may safely consider ourselves in the domain of legend and not of history. The same may be said of all the incidents of Simon's career; they pertain to the region of fable and probably owe their creation to the Patristic and Simonian controversies of later ages.
Glapio had made no reference to the question of the patristic belief in the infallibility of the Pope, or his absolute power over the Church collectively and her Councils: even the Papal nuncio himself had not ventured to touch on these subjects.
Christian mediæval thought, which was really a continuation of the Patristic period, likewise began with Eriugena in the ninth century under Platonic and Neo-Platonic influences. Of Aristotle the logic alone was known, and that too only in small part.
Before we pass on to the last evidences offered by Paley, which necessitate a closer investigation into the value of the testimony borne by the patristic, to the canonical, writings, it will be well to put broadly the fact, that these Fathers are simply worthless as witnesses to any matter of fact, owing to the absurd and incredible stories which they relate with the most perfect faith.
Hence, confronted by the communistic theory of State ownership which had been advanced by Plato, and by a curious group of strange, heterodox teachers, and which had, moreover, the actual support of many patristic sayings, and the strong bias of monastic life, they set out joyfully to resolve it into the simplest and most unassailable series of propositions.
On the one hand, they would not require the simple to express their corporate religious feeling in Elizabethan English or Patristic Latin; on the other, expect the educated to accept at face-value symbols of which the unreal character is patent to them. Nor would they represent these activities as possessing absolute value in themselves.
To this ideal Philo throughout was true, and the Christian teachers were essentially opposed, and however much they approximated to his method and utilized his thought, they were always strangers to his spirit. Philo's philosophy was in great part a philosophy of the law; the Patristic school borrowed his allegorizing method and produced a philosophy of religious dogma!
The dialectical and controversial spirit awakened by Abélard led to such a variety of opinions among the inquiring young men who assembled in Paris at the various schools, some of which were regarded as rationalistic in their tendency, or at least a departure from the patristic standard, that Peter Lombard, Bishop of Paris, collected in four books the various sayings of the Fathers concerning theological dogmas.