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Guide to Sources in Patristic Studies

Individual Authors/Works (English): Series

Call numbers for Graham Library holdings are supplied where applicable; where an item is not held at the Graham Library other locations within the UTL system are provided.

The main series of patristic texts in English are as follows:

+Ancient Christian Writers Series BX2435 .D755 / BR60 .A35 (Not shelved together)
Published by the Paulist Press (New York and Mahweh). Begun in 1945, the series now has over 50 volumes. Though not as complete as the Ante-Nicene and Nicene Fathers (below), volumes are smaller, type is larger and clearer; translations fresher. Clear, detailed introductions; extensive notes; detailed indexes; and bibliographies (occasionally). Volumes are devoted to one author or to one major work of an author.

+The Ante-Nicene Fathers (10 vols.) BR60 .A62 R6 (TRINSTOR) BR63 An8 (TRINSTOR)

+The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (in two parts, 14 vols. each) BR60 .S63 (TRINSTOR)
These constitute one set. This was the first series to introduce the English world to patristic writings. Appeared first in the 19th century. Many times reprinted. Some of the English translations are dated. The series should be used with a more critical edition. Some of the notes may still be useful. Extensive indexes. Detailed table of contents.

+The Fathers of the Church BR60 .F3
Published by the Catholic University of America Press, Washington, DC. Increasingly used for English translations, which are fresh, with brief but useful introductions. Now over 100 vols. Length of notes varies but they address textual issues, parallels found in other literature of the period, and general information about persons and places in the text. Modern debates generally not addressed.

+Library of Christian Classics BR45 .B3
Published by SCM (London). Series begun in 1953. First 8 vols. relevant to the early church (3 of which devoted are to Augustine). Contain brief critical introductions with somewhat dated bibliographic information. Extensive critical notes. More brief indexes than in comparable series. Superseded by the Ancient Christian Writers series (above).

+Message of the Fathers of the Church BR195 .W6
Published by the Liturgical Press. Provides selection of important passages on a variety of themes. Introductory section, explanatory notes for each passage. Uses translations already available. Useful for an introduction and overview of the range of opinion in the early church. Compare with the Sources of Early Christian Thought (below) which uses new translations.

+Loeb Classical Library PA6395 .R813
Published by Harvard University Press. This is the standard series providing Greek or Latin texts with English translation. Brief notes and introduction. Indexes, though not as detailed as in the Ante-Nicene Fathers and Nicene Fathers series (above), are adequate. Includes only a few Christian authors.

+Oxford Early Christian Texts BR65 .E6852
Published by Clarendon Press, Oxford. Most up to date technical editions in English. Provides latest translations and extensive critical notes. Detailed, critical introductions. Various indexes. Greek or Latin text on the left page, English translation on the right. More focused on Christian authors than Loeb.

+Sources of Early Christian Thought (Not shelved together. Different call number depending on the topic.) BR195 .M37
Published by Fortress Press. Short English translations of early Christian texts. Volumes arranged around a particular topic, though these are not comprehensive. Useful general introductions. No critical notes on the passages. No index. Short bibliography. Useful for a survey of opinion of the early church on particular topics which include marriage, morality and ethics, Christology, biblical interpretation etc.

Individual Authors/Works (English): Selections

In addition to the complete texts of patristic authors there are a number of works that provide selections from various authors. The following is a selection of these. (Unless otherwise indicated, the call numbers refer to Graham Library holdings.)

  • Arnold, Eberhard. The Early Christians: a Sourcebook on the Witness of the Early Church (Rifton, NY, 1972; Grand Rapids, 1979) BR63 .A27 1972 KNOX.
  • Betteson, Henry, et al. The Early Christian Fathers. A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers From St. Clement of Rome to St. Athanasius (London, 1969). BR63 .B38, BR63 .B4 TRIN
  • Betteson, Henry. The Later Christian Fathers. A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Cyril of Jerusalem to St. Leo the Great (London, 1970). BR63 .B42 TRIN
  • Grant, Robert M. Second-Century Christianity. A Collection of Fragments (London, 1957; Louisville, KY 2003) BR63 .S43.
  • Placher, William C. Readings in the History of Christian Theology, vol. I: From its Beginnings to the Eve of the Reformation (Philadelphia, 1988). BT80 .R35
  • Stevenson, J. A New Eusebius: Documents illustrating the history of the Church to AD 337 (London, 1987). BR160 .A2 N49
  • Stevenson, J. Creeds, Councils, and Controversies: Documents illustrating the history of the Church AD 337-461 (London, 1989). BR160 .A2 S7 1966 TRIN BR160 .A2 C74 1989 ROB

Locating Individual Authors

To locate individual authors and their works, the following will be useful:
If you know the author and the title of an individual work, you can use the following as a personal subject heading:
(In this case, St. Augustine, De Trinitate, On the Trinity):
*Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo. De Trinitate.

Searching By Subject

It is relatively easy using the above structure if you want to locate a particular author or book of the Bible commented on by a church father.

What do you do when you search is more complex? Let’s take a topic like “Poverty and wealth in patristic literature”. The following individual headings may be used:

  • *Wealth–Religious aspects–Christianity–History of doctrines–Early church, ca. 30-600.
  • *Poverty–Religious aspects–Christianity–History of doctrines–Early church, ca. 30-600.
  • *Fathers of the church

The key subject terms here are: “Wealth”, “Poverty”, “Fathers”, and “Church”

Using the Advanced Search feature key in each of these terms in the fields and in the menu choose “Subject” for each. This should retrieve at least two items, one of which is:

  • Thornton, James, Reverend. Wealth and poverty in the teachings of the church fathers (Saint John Chrysostom Press, 1993) BR195 .W4 T47 1993 SMC

Other topics for example, anthropomorphism or theodicy in the early church and their representation in the church fathers or as doctrines in the early church can be searched using the following subject headings and combinations thereof:

  • *Anthropomorphism–History of doctrines–Early church, ca. 30-600.
  • Again combining “Anthropomorphism” with “Fathers” and “Church” as subjects in the Advanced Search function (as above) should produce a number of works, of which the following is noteworthy:
  • Clark, Elizabeth A. The Origenist controversy: the cultural construction of an early Christian debate ( Princeton University Press, 1992).
  • Similarly with “Theodicy”
  • *Theodicy–History of doctrines–Early church, ca. 30-600.

Recommended Subject Headings

  • *Fathers of the church
  • *Fathers of the church–Biography
  • *Fathers of the church, Armenian–Biography
  • *Theology-History-Early church, ca.30-600
  • *Theology, Doctrinal-History-Early church, ca. 30-600
  • *Apostolate (Christian theology)–History of doctrines–Early church, ca. 30-600
  • *Bible–Criticism, interpretation, etc.–History–Early church, ca. 30-600
  • *Church history–Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600
  • *Christian literature, Early–Criticism, Textual
  • *Christian saints–Biography
  • *Doctors of the church–Biography
  • *Bible. N.T. Corinthians–Criticism and interpretation, etc.–History–Early church, ca. 30-600–Sources. [Similarly for other books of the Bible]

Electronic Sources

The two main sites for electronic versions of the Church Fathers are:


Hosted by Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Searchable by title, author, or subject. Since the texts are generally accessed as html files, they can be saved for offline viewing. An excellent resource. The source for the texts is Schaff’s Early Church Fathers Divided into Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Series I, and Nicene and Post-Nicene Series II. (38-volume collection). Quality uneven.

Ecole Initiative

Hosted by the University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana. An excellent resource. Alphabetical list by author of documents from the Early Christian period. Mostly from 19th century editions and translations. Links can be unstable.

Other Sites of Significance

Other Electronic Resources

The early church fathers their writings and teachings. Brentwood, Tenn. : Segen Corp., 1997. [pt. 1]. The Ante-Nicene fathers. –[pt. 2]. The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series. Emmanuel College CD ROM .Ea76 v.1, 2.

Guides and General Works of Reference

  • Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press). (Various volumes have appeared to date in this series).
  • Aquilina, Mike. The Fathers of the church: an introduction to the first Christian teachers (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor,1999).BR 67 .A66 1999 SMC/STAS
  • Chryssavgis, John. The way of the Fathers: exploring the patristic mind (Thessalonica: Patriarchikon Hidryma Paterikon Meleton, 1998) BR1706.C45 STAS
  • Hall, Christopher A. Learning theology with the church fathers (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002). BT25 .H33 TRIN
  • Hamman, A.G. How to read the church fathers (New York, Crossroad, 1993). BR67 .H29613 (Many libraries)
  • Kannengiesser, Charles. Handbook of patristic exegesis: the Bible in ancient Christianity, 2 vols. (Leiden: Boston: Brill, 2004). BS500 .K34 (Many libraries).
  • Ramsey, Boniface. Beginning to read the fathers (SCM Press, 1993). BR67 .R24 1993 TRIN

Comments have been adapted from Robinson, Thomas A. The Early Church: An Annotated Bibliography of Literature in English (Metuchen, NJ & London, 1993) which has a guide to Patristic Authors and Texts, 30-54.

Tom Power 19 Jan. 2004; revised Nov. 2012.