|The Early Church Fathers, from Clement of Rome to Irenaeus especially, are very important to us,
(not to minimize the others). All together we have 86,489 Scripture text quotes from the Early
Church Fathers in Ante-Nicene Fathers & Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. If all the Greek
Manuscripts were lost or destroyed today, we could still reproduce the New Testament using the
works of the Early church fathers. We also have 2,445 Lectionaries that contain Scripture
references. Although we may not always agree with some of the teachings from time to time, they
still quoted from the Word of God and many times from first hand copies of the originals if not the
originals. The originals survived into the second century according to Tertullian. Tertullian,
writing in c. 180 CE, said, “Come now, you who would indulge a better curiosity, if you would apply
it to the business of your salvation, run over [to] the apostolic churches, in which the very thrones of
the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read.
Tertullian goes on to discuss each of these ‘authentic writings’ as being found in the very churches
to which they were written. He mentions Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and Rome. He
urges his reader to visit these sites to check out these authentic writings. This seems to
suggest that he believed that these documents were the autographs. In the least, it suggests that
by his day carefully done copies of the originals were considered important for verifying what the
apostles meant, and such copies had a strong connection to the churches to which they were
originally written. Philip Schaff says, "My sense, however, both from the context and from lexical
usage, is that Tertullian meant the autographa". (Note: Dr Schaff was over the American Standard
Version yet he states the above and the note below).
Notice the Description comments by Schaff in the excerpt below concerning the originals.