For you fellow Greek junkies out there, though I may be preaching to the choir, don’t forget to use BDAG (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature) to find word parallels between the NT and the early church fathers. Below is an example from a brief word study on 1 Corinthians 15.14c.
In 15.14c Paul says that if there were no resurrection, our faith in Christ would be kenos. Greek lexicons say this means empty, void, vain, etc. To see how kenos was used by the early church fathers (or if they used it), go ask BDAG. In this example, BDAG says that kenos was used (among many other places) in Dg 8:2. The index of abbreviations in BDAG (p. lxiii in the front) says this is the Epistle to Diognetus. If you have Michael Holmes’ edited volume, The Apostolic Fathers, you can see Dg 8:2 for yourself in Greek and English on page 707.
So we go to that (Dg 8:2) and see there in the Greek the same term (kenos) to describe the statements of the “specious philosophers” (axiopiston philosophon) who say that God was fire, or water, or any other element he created. (Side note: there is humor here in Dg 8.2 – the author says that ironically those who think God is the element of fire are headed for that very thing: fire!) These specious philosophers speak empty (kenos) and silly (lerodes) statements.
In Dg 8.2 we also get a parallel to kenos, the word Paul used in 1 Cor 15.14c: lerodes. All this helps us get a little closer to the meaning of “vain faith,” a “resurrectionless” faith. Paul says faith without the resurrection is empty; Dg 8:2 says the philosophers’ statements that God is fire is empty and silly.
Of course, these are just the basics of a word study – and remember word studies need to be handled and used with care! The high-speed Bibleworks user could no doubt do this as well, perhaps with more depth. The point I want to make, I suppose, is this: BDAG put the references to the early church fathers in there for a reason! Use it!