Early Church History

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Early & Medieval Church Writings
History & Texts of Christian Councils



Order of Contents

Where to Start?
.    Patrologies  10
.    On Early Church Literature  8
.    Brief Histories  9
.    In-Depth Histories  20
.    Constantine – Church & State  6
.    Antiquities  6
.    Eastern & Latin Churches  3
.    Special Periods  9

Doctrines  15
Worship  11
Church Government
Dictionary & Encyclopedias
Use of Fathers  3
Latin  1
Biblios  7




Here is the harvest from the public domain on the history of the early Church, plus some more select newer resources.

The early Church will always be dear to the one to whom the Lord Jesus is dear to, as these early Christians came right off the heels of Christ’s commissioned apostles themselves.  Here we see the faith of the early Christians, how they lived and how they died.  Even more so, see how Jesus was with them from Heaven, guiding his infant Church through the sea of this world and prospering them by his Divine strength till this gracious leaven filled the whole earth.

Sometimes the early church, being so close to the apostles, is looked to as an intriguing standard of pure, handed-down, doctrine and practice.  While their simplicity in Scriptural teaching and living is to be commended, and they set forth to us the orthodox doctrines of the Trinity and the Person and natures of Christ (no small feat), yet there is sometimes a tendency to hagiography (saint-glorifying).  The New Testament itself gives indications of the significant impurities in the Church in its own day, predicts the growth thereof, and warns against temptations natural to the human heart in every generation.  In reading the early Church, one may find him or herself coming to the same conclusion as the famed Free Church of Scotland professor, John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan:

“It is a grand evidence of the inspiration of the apostles that the theology of the post-apostolic Fathers is so puerile.”

Yet, nonetheless, the history of these early Christians is our own, and just as we see they needed the Savior, so we find the same for ourselves.

* * *

Modern academia often devalues older resources as they are ‘not up-to-date’.  While there is some relevance to this, it matters relatively less in history.  While acknowledging numerous advantages that our contemporary setting gives us with regards historical scholarship, yet for the most part, the ancient sources have not changed.  Sometimes older historians had access to documents we do not have, and they often had more life-long industry in their historical field, with the profound depth of knowledge that attends it, than many, or most, contemporary historians.  It is unlikely that you will ever know more about history than the 1800’s American historian, Philip Schaff.  If many of the resources below, based on a wealth of primary sources, were satisfactory for him, unless you’re doing a dissertation, they may prove adequate for you as well.

The great benefit of the many older (and newer) academic resources below is the mass of scholarly information and detail they shed upon the subject, which is not found nearly anywhere else.  The great drawback to them, is that “not many wise men after the flesh… are called,” and hence a great morass of the material is colored, or sometimes interpreted through, presuppositions and historical paradigms that are antithetical to a natural understanding and development of those events consistent with a believing acceptance of New Testament history and the savor of godliness.

As this paradigmatic conflict increases the closer one gets to the New Testament, for the history of the 1st century, instead of many of the resources on this page, we recommend consulting conservative New Testament backgrounds, surveys and introductions, which will give you a faithful reading of that period.

While there are not many, there are a few doctrinal conservatives (and in this case, as strict as they come by) that have written early Church histories.  David Welsh (1793–1845) was the moderator of the 1843 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland during the Disruption who read the Protest, laid it on the table, and walked out due to Erastian impositions upon Christ’s Church, along with 194 other elders in order to form the Free Church of Scotland.  He was a professor of church history and wrote the following year, a year before he died:

Elements of Church History, vol. 1, External History of the Church During the First Three Centuries  1844  500 pp.

Of the same spiritual rectitude was William Killen (1806–1902), a professor of Church history for the Irish Presbyterian Church.  He wrote:

The Ancient Church: its History, Doctrine, Worship, Constitution Traced for the First 300 Years  1883  660 pp.

For those who are a bit further along and know some Greek and Latin, but have not yet attempted to jump into the 161 volumes of Greek patristic writings and 221 volumes of Latin patristic writings (which is not easy to do), but desire to make some progress herein, we have some easy directions and tools in our Primary Sources section that will allow you to do just this.  It is the only place on the net that we know of which provides such a key to opening these treasures.

We hope these resources will be a blessing to you and that you will make great use of them.  At the same time, may these words of ‘Rabbi’ Duncan also ring true for you:

“Believe not any man on his own mere word.  Sacredly reserve your faith for the Word of the living God.”



Where to Start?

For a readable, engaging introduction to the Fathers and the early Church, see:

Haykin, Michael – Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church  Buy  2011  176 pp.

Haykin is a reformed baptist church historian.

Wilken, Robert – The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God  Buy  2005  398 pp.

For a brief, reliable, readable and cheap history of the early Church, try the eminent church historian, who was a Lutheran:

Bainton, Roland – Early Christianity  Buy  1960  187 pp.

For a great place to start on the historical theology of the early Church, procure:

Pelikan, Jaroslav – The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine: vol. 1, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)  Buy  1975

Prestige, G.L. – God in Patristic Thought  Buy  1936  301 pp.




A Patrology is a work that surveys the field through being organized around, and focusing on, the particular, prominent Church fathers and their writings.  It is a great place to start to get familiar with the lay of the land.




“Among the Protestant patrologists are reckoned the Reformed theologians Cave (†1713 [Anglican]), and Oudin (†1717 [works]), a Premonstatensian monk who became Protestant in 1690.  The Lutheran writers Gerhard (†1637), Hulsemann (†1661), Olearius (†1711), and others introduced and spread the use of the term ‘Patrology’…” – Bardenhewer, p. 9


Cave, William – Lives of the Most Eminent Fathers of the Church that Flourished in the First Four Centuries, vol. 1, 2, 3  1676

Cave was an Anglican and a main protestant historian of the early Church.



Schmid, Bernard – A Manual of Patrology  1899  350 pp.

Stearns, Wallace – A Manual of Patrology: being a Concise Account of the Chief Persons, Sects, Orders, etc. in Christian History from the First Century to the Period of the Reformation with Select Bibliographical References  1899  200 pp.  This is laid out like a dictionary.  The entries are very brief.



Bardenhewer, Otto – Patrology: the Lives and Works of the Fathers of the Church  1908  700 pp.

Tixeront, Joseph – A Handbook of Patrology  1923  390 pp.

Tixeront was a Jesuit.

Cayre, Fulbert – Manual of Patrology and History of Theology, 3 vols.  Buy  1936-40  Cayre’s work goes up through the 1500’s

Quasten, Johannes – Patrology, 4 vols.  Buy  1950-86  To be supplemented with Angelo Di Berardino, Patrology: The Eastern Fathers from the Council of Chalcedon (451) to John of Damascus (750)  Buy  2006 which acts as the 5th volume.

“By far the most valuable Patrology in English is Johannes Quasten’s work…  it is an unusually valuable work because of its superb organization.  Quasten offers basic information on the life and work of an individual, provides a comprehensive listing of extant editions and translations, and then discusses the various doctrines that the person wrote on, with relatively up-to-date bibliographies.” – Bradley & Muller, p. 99

Altaner, B. – Patrology  Buy  1960  660 pp.

“A guide to the critical texts and recent studies of all the writers of the early church.” – Owen Chadwick



ed. Holweck, F.G. – A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints  Buy  1924/1969/1991

“The quickest one-volume guide to hagiography.  On a bigger scale, the only critical series of volumes is A. Butler…  on no account use the pre-Thurston editions.” – Owen Chadwick

ed. Thurston, Attwater – Butler’s Lives of the Saints  1990  2,905 pp.  complete in one volume  This work is laid out by the Roman Catholic calendar throughout the year by saint’s days.



On Early Church Literature


Cruttwell, Charles Thomas – A Literary History of Early Christianity Including the Fathers and the Chief Heretical Writers of the Ante-Nicene Period, vol. 1, 2  1893

Cruttwell was a fellow of Oxford.

Kruger, Gustav – History of Early Christian Literature in the First Three Centuries 1897  470 pp.



Orr, James – The Early Church: its History and Literature  1901?  155 pp.

Orr was the influential professor in the United Free Church of Scotland.

Goodspeed, Edgar – A History of Early Christian Literature  Buy  1966  214 pp.

Gamble, Harry – Books and Readers in the Early Church: a History of Early Christian Texts  Buy  1995  350 pp.



Dopp, Siegmar – Dictionary of Early Christian Literature  Buy  2000  640 pp.  Goes up to the 8th century

Drobner, Hubertus – The Fathers of the Church: a Comprehensive Introduction  Buy  2007  680 pp.  Baker

Ayres, Young & Louth – The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature  Buy  2007  568 pp.




Brief Histories


Welsh, David – Elements of Church History, vol. 1, External History of the Church During the First Three Centuries  1844  The section on the post-apostolic early church is only 150 pp.

Welsh (1793–1845) was the historic moderator at the Disruption of 1843 who read the Protest to the Church of Scotland and lead the exodus out in order to form the Free Church of Scotland.  He had quite the credentials in history and intended to write a 7 volume general history of the Church, but died after the first volume.

Blunt, J.J. – A History of the Christian Church during the First Three Centuries  1856  375 pp.

Blunt was a Cambridge professor.

Mahan, Milo – A Church History of the First Three Centuries, to AD 323  1860  450 pp.

Mahan was an American professor of church history, and an Episcopalian.

Crake, A.D. – History of the Church under the Roman Empire, AD 30-476, intended for Junior Students  1879  655 pp.

Crake was a fellow of the English, Royal Historical Society.

Hurst, John Fletcher – Short History of the Early Church  1886  150 pp.

Hurst was the very learned Methodist professor and historian who wrote a historical theology and a rather complete bibliography on Christian theology by subject.

Plummer, Alfred – The Church of the Early Fathers: External History  1888  250 pp.  This history goes up until Constantine.  Here is his bibliography.

Plummer was a liberal Bible commentator and scholar known for his exhaustive scholarship.

Backhouse, Edward – Early Church History to the Death of Constantine  1892  380 pp.

Bartlet, J. Vernon – Early Church History: a Sketch of the First Four Centuries  1894  160 pp.  Religious Tract Society

Bartlet was an Oxford scholar.



Fisher, George Park – Periods 1-4 of History of the Christian Church, with Maps  1900  162 pp.

Fisher (1827–1909) was an American professor of Church History at Yale.

Messenger, E.C. – The Church in the Christian Roman Empire  Buy  1949

“A conservative account of the fourth century is given in Fliche, A. and Martin, V. ed., Histoire de l’Eglise, vol. iii, 1939, part of which was translated by E.C. Messenger as The Church in the Christian Roman Empire.” – Owen Chadwick

Wand, J.W.C. – A History of the Early Church to AD 500  Buy  1951/1991  320 pp.

Chadwick, Owen – The Early Church  Buy  in The Penguin History of the Church, vol. 1  1993  314 pp.



In-Depth Histories  20


Cave, William – Primitive Christianity, or the Religion of the Ancient Christians, with a Historical Account of Paganism under the First Christian Emperors, vol. 1, 2  1673

Cave was an Anglican and was one of the main protestant historians of the early Church.



Mosheim, Johann – Historical Commentaries on the State of Christianity during the first 325 years, vol. 1, 2  1753

Mosheim is considered by many to be the father of modern, scientific history.  He was a moderate Lutheran.  This work is different from his well-known 2 vol. Church history.

Gibbon, Edward – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire  1782   6 vol. ed.  Scroll down the page a way where there is a full table of contents with links.  See especially chs. 15 (Progress of Christianity), 16 (Conduct towards Christians), 20 (Conversion of Constantine), 23 (Julian, Persecution), 28 (Destruction of Paganism), 37 (Conversion of Barbarians) 51 (Christians under Islam)

Invaluable material from a classic, though Gibbon was anti-Christian.  “Unsurpassed in the skillful use of sources and artistic composition, but skeptical and destitute of sympathy with the genius of Christianity.” – P. Schaff



Burton, Edward – Lectures upon the Ecclesiastical History of the First Three Centuries, vols. 1, 2  1839

Burton was an Oxford scholar.  See the comments by the Free Church of Scotland professor, David Welsh, bottom of p. 51.  Burton also made collections of ante-Nicene testimonies to the Divinity of Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Neander, Augustus – General History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 1 (to 312), 1.5 (Doctrinal),  2 (312-590), 3-4 (590-814 / 814-1078)

Neander (1789–1850) was a liberal German scholar.

Gieseler, John – A Compendium of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1 (to 400), 2 (400-1073)  1854

Gieseler (1792–1854) was a German historian.  He copiously references sources and authorities and quotes original documents in full in the footnotes.

Schaff, Philip – History of the Apostolic Church, with a General Introduction to Church History  1854  820 pp.

This work is different from his larger-in-scope, History of the Christian Church.

Pressense, E. de – The Early Years of Christianity, vol. 1, Apostolic Era, 2, Heresy & Christian Doctrine, 3, Martyrs & Apologists, 4, Christian Life  1870

Pressense (1824–1891) was a French protestant pastor who studied under German liberals.

Robertson, James Craigie – History of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (64-590)  1864  650 pp.

Robertson (1813–1882) was a Scottish, Anglican Churchman.

Baur, F.C. – The Church History of the First Three Centuries, vol. 1, 2  1878

This is here for reference.  Baur was a German liberal and founder of the Tubingen school of thought, which is highly NOT recommended.  See the comments of P. Schaff.

“Among many authors of note [of German historians], the three most eminent are Neander, Gieseler and Baur…  [with respect to Baur] The influence of Hegelian philosophy is manifest everywhere.” – G.P. Fisher

Wordsworth, Charles – A Church History to the Council of Nicea AD 325  1881  520 pp.

Wordsworth was an Anglo-Catholic, Scottish and English bishop and classical scholar.

Kurtz, Johann Heinrich – Church History, vol. 1  1889

Kurtz was one of the more ‘evangelical’ German liberals

Milman, Henry Hart – The History of Christianity… to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire, vol. 1, 2  189?

Milman (1791 –1868) was an English historian and Anglican ecclesiastic.



Moeller, Wilhelm – History of the Christian Church, vol. 1, A.D. 1-600   1902  555 pp.

Moeller was a German professor.

Harnack, Adolf – The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, vol. 1, 2  1908  

Duchesne, Louis – Early History of the Christian Church from its Foundation to the End of the Fifth Century, vol. 1 (to 300), 2 (300-400), 3 (400-500)  1909 ff.

Duchesne was a French Oxford and Cambridge scholar.

“Long a standard Roman Catholic survey of early church history…  For a later Protestant survey see Lietzmann…” – G.E. & Lyn Gorman

“A classical account by a master.  The French original is wittier than the English translation.” – Owen Chadwick

Gwatkin, Henry – Early Church History to A.D. 313, vol. 1, 2  1912

Gwatkin (1844–1916) was a Cambridge professor.

Kidd, B.J.

A History of the Church to AD 461, vol. 1 (to 313), 2 (313-408), 3 (408-461)  (1922)

Kidd (1864–1948) was an Anglican priest and historian.  This work aims at “putting students into direct contact with the sources and enabling them to use the originals for themselves”

The Roman Primacy to AD 461  Buy  160 pp.

Lietzmann, Hans – A History of the Early Church, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4  Buy  (1950)


“This is an important work which concentrates on the history of ideas, and contains useful aids such as chronological tables, bibliographies and indexes.  For the student of the period this provides a wealth of information.”

“Lietzmann’s four volumes… are an important modern (i.e. post-Schwarz) account of the early church, but to get the best out of them requires previous knowledge.” – Owen Chadwick



Constantine – Church & State  6

Gibson, James – The Church in Relation to the State  1872  220 pp. this book consists of a 170 page treatise written by Gibson in 1833 and a 45 page lecture given by Gibson in 1853, edited and compiled by James M’Naught  

Gibson was a Disruption father in the Free Church of Scotland and a professor therein.

The first part of the book is a historical essay.  It is often claimed that the establishment of religion instituted by Constantine in the 300’s was the major contributing factor to the later Romish and priestly domination of the Church.  Gibson argues from history that the Church would have been much helped from the Establishment Principle under Constantine, but in fact it was due to the Voluntary Principle that the later Romish domination came about.  This essay was highly recommended by the Doctors M’Crie and Cunningham, and (according to them) had not been answered.

Baynes, N.H. – ‘Constantine the Great and the Christian Church’  1930  a lecture  Here is a review.

Cambridge Ancient History  1936

vol. 11, ch. 7, ‘The Rise of Christianity’, 70-192 AD

vol. 12, ch. 6.5, 8.3, 12-14, 15, 18.5, 19, 20  193-324 AD

Setton, K.M. – Christian Attitudes Towards the Emperor in the Fourth Century  Buy  1941

Jones, A.H.M. – Constantine and the Conversion of Europe  1948  310 pp.

“The best short account.” – Owen Chadwick

Greenslade, S.L. – Church & State from Constantine to Theodosius  Buy  1954

King, N.Q. – The Emperor Theodosius and the Establishment of Christianity  Buy  1961



Early Church Antiquities

Antiquities include the constitution, ministers, worship, discipline and customs of the early Church.  While the topical arrangement is convenient, it does not lend itself to viewing the historical development and progression of the thing treated.

For instance, the table of contents may make the early church seem fully hierarchical and liturgical, as it became by the late 300’s and after, however it was significantly less so in the 200’s, and very little this way, if at all, in the 100’s.  See also William Killen above and ‘Presbyterianism’ under ‘Specific Doctrines’ in the Doctrines subsection above.




Bingham, Joseph – The Antiquities of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (Titles, Offices, Revenue, Elections), 2 (Ascetics, Buildings, Geographical Divisions), 3 (Catechumens, Creeds, Baptism, Confirmation) 4 (Lay Baptism, Worship), 5 (Worship, Lord’s Supper), 6 (Discipline, Penance), 7 (Lord’s Day, Festivals, Fasts, Marriage, Funerals), 8 (Defense of Anglican Church, Sermons, Index)  1708-1722

Bingham  (1668-1723) heavily defends the distinctives of the Anglican Church in this massive and very detailed work.



Coleman, Lyman – Antiquities of the Christian Church  1841  575 pp.

Riddle, J.E. – A Manual of Christian Antiquities, Particularly during the Third, Fourth & Fifth Centuries  1843  880

Riddle was an Oxford scholar and makes a plea for Episcopalianism.



Smith, W. & Cheetham, S. – A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities… from the time of the Apostles to the age of Charlemagne, vol. 1 (A-J), 2 (K-Z)  1908

Davies, J.G. – Daily Life in the Early Church  Buy  1952  180 pp.


Specific Practices & Doctrines


Mortimer, R.C. – The Origins of Private Penance in the Western Church  Buy  1939

Watkins, Oscar D. – A History of Penance: being a study of the authorities ,vol. 1 (to 450), 2 (450-1215)  1920



Lea, Henry

A History of Auricular Confession and Indulgences in the Latin Church, vol. 1, 2, 3  1896

Lea was an American historian and political activist.

“Written to overthrow, but with vigor and learning.” – Owen Chadwick

History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church, vol. 1, 2  1907

Studies in Church History: The Rise of the Temporal Power, Benefit of Clergy, Excommunication, the Early Church and Slavery   1883  605 pp.



Histories of the Eastern & Latin Churches

The Eastern Church

Neale, John Mason – A History of the Holy Eastern Church, vol. 1 (Alex.), 2 (Alex.), 3 (Antioch)  1847

Neale was a high-church Anglican priest who was very sympathetic to, and involved with, the Eastern Church.

Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn – Lectures on the History of the Eastern Church, with an Introduction on the Study of Ecclesiastical History  1883  500 pp.

Stanley was an English churchman, academic and religious liberal.

Tozer, Henry – The Church and the Eastern Empire  1900  240 pp.


The Latin Church

Milman, Henry Hart – History of Latin Christianity, including that of the Popes, vol. 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8  1908  The first volume covers the first 600 years.  The remaining volumes cover the Middle Ages up to AD 1455.

Milman (1791 –1868) was an English historian and an Anglican ecclesiastic.

Lagarde, Andre – The Latin Church in the Middle Ages  1915  620 pp.  trans. Archibald Alexander



Special Periods

0-100 AD

Newman, John Henry & Samuel Hinds – History of the Christian Church in the First Century  1862?  415 pp.

Newman (1801–1890) was an Oxford scholar and Anglican priest who became a Roman Catholic cardinal.

Burton, Edward – ‘Introductory Preface comprising a History of the Church in the First Century’  1881  96 pp.  in The Apostolic Fathers, Part 3, pp. 12-108

Burton was an Oxford professor.

Fisher, George – The Beginnings of Christianity, with a View of the State of the Roman World at the Birth of Christ  1911  600 pp.

Fisher (1827–1909) studied theology at Yale and was a historian.


0-200 AD

Maurice, Frederick – Lectures on the Ecclesiastical History of the First and Second Centuries  1854  420 pp.  Oxford


100-200 AD

Burton, Edward – ‘Introductory Preface comprising a History of the Church in the Second Century’  1881  43 pp.  in The Apostolic Fathers, Part 33, pp. 7-50

Burton was an Oxford professor.


100-300 AD

Kaye, John – Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries, illustrated from the Writinqs of Tertullian  1826  620 pp.

Kaye was an Anglican bishop.

Jeremie, James – History of the Christian Church in the Second and Third Centuries  1852  230 pp.

Jeremie was a Cambridge professor.  “Very accessible patrological method.  Select rather than exhaustive.” – Ernest Richardson


313-451 AD  Nicea to Chalcedon

Bright, William – A History of the Church from the Edict of Milan, AD 313, to the Council of Chalcedon, AD 451  1881  450 pp.

Bright was an Oxford professor.


300-1100 AD

Carwithen & Lyall – The Christian Church from the Fourth to the Twelfth Century  1856  320 pp.



Early Church Doctrines

See also the Early Church sections of Historical Theologies that span the whole Christian time-frame.



Taylor, Isaac – Ancient Christianity and the Doctrines of the Oxford Tracts, vol. 1, 2  1839/42

The Oxford Tractarian Movement was a high-Church push by leaders such as John Henry Newman and E.B. Pusey to return to the claimed doctrines and characteristics of the early Church, though the publishing of tracts between 1833-41.  Taylor was an English Independent and here seeks to overturn the historical claims of the movement on the Early Church.

Bennett, James – The Theology of the Early Christian Church Exhibited in Quotations from the Writers of the First Three Centuries, with Reflections  1841

Neander, Augustus – General History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 1.5, 2  1850  The 1.5 volume is wholly devoted to doctrine up till 312.  The appendix of the second volume, 170 pp., is devoted to doctrine from 312-590.

Neander (1789–1850) was a liberal German scholar.  See Philip Schaff’s commendation of his teacher, but also his fuller criticisms here.  This work is in addition to his major historical theology on the whole span of Christian history.

Pressense, E. de – The Early Years of Christianity, vol. 2, Heresy & Christian Doctrine  1870

Pressense (1824–1891) was a French protestant pastor who studied under German liberals.

Killen, William D.

The Ancient Church: its History, Doctrine, Worship, Constitution Traced for the First 300 Years  1883  660 pp.

Killen (1806–1902) was a professor of Church history in the Irish Presbyterian Church.

The Old Catholic Church, or the History, Doctrine, Worship and Polity of the Christians traced from the Apostolic Age to the Establishment of the Pope as a Temporal Sovereign, AD 755  1871  440 pp.

This work is significantly different from that above.  Only the first 60 pages are devoted to the first 300 years.



Banks, John – The Development of Doctrine in the Early Church  1900  225 pp.  in Books for Bible Students

Bethune-Baker, J.F. – An Introduction to the Early History of Christian Doctrine to the Time of the Council of Chalcedon  1903  485 pp.

Bethune-Baker was a Cambridge professor.

Tixeront, J. – History of Dogmas, vol. 1 (Ante-Nicene), 2 (318-430), 3 (430-800)  1910

“By a clear-headed Jesuit.” – Owen Chadwick

Prestige, G.L. – Fathers and Heretics  Buy  1940

“Good reading for beginners.” – Owen Chadwick

Kelly, J.N.D. – Early Christian Doctrines  1958  510 pp.

“The best general survey.” – Owen Chadwick



ed. McGuckin, John – The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology  Buy  2004  416 pp.  WJKP is a liberal publisher.  McGuckin is a priest in the Orthodox Church.



Specific Doctrines in the Early Church


Prestige, G.L. – God in Patristic Thought  Buy  1936  301 pp.



Gwatkin, H.M. – Studies of Arianism: Chiefly Referring to the Character and Chronology of the Reaction which followed the Council of Nicea  1900  345 pp.

Sellers, R.V. – Council of Chalcedon  Buy  1961


The Word of God and Sola Scriptura

ed. King & Webster – Holy Scripture: the Ground and Pillar of our Faith, vol. 3: the Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura  Buy  312 pp.

This is a massive collection of excerpts from the early fathers demonstrating the principle of sola scripture in the early church.  It is not claimed that all of them, or all of those quoted, were protestants or consistent with this principle, but it is claimed that they did affirm the things they do in-fact say.


Doctrines of Grace & Others

Ussher, James – Answer to a Jesuit  420 pp.

Ussher surveys the early church and its development on: Confession, a priest’s power to forgive sins, purgatory, prayer for the dead, Christ’s descent into Sheol, prayer to the saints, images, of Free-will & of Merits.

Gill, John – Part 4 of The Cause of God and Truth   175 pp.  Gill documents from the early fathers excerpts regarding Predestination, Limited Atonement, Total Depravity, Irresistible Grace & Perseverance of the Saints. 

While this documentation should not be interpreted that this is all these fathers had to say, or that they were Calvinists, yet it is helpful in seeing where numerous of the fathers, reflecting Scripture, affirmed these Biblical truths, even if they were inconsistent in other places.

McMahon, Matthew

‘Calvinism in the Early Church’

‘The Early Church & Justification’

The documentation in these articles should be understood to be select out of an ocean of material, and should be combined with an overall survey of the fathers’ theology in the resources above.  Consistency was not a prime virtue of many of the fathers.

The Early & Medieval Church on Limited Atonement

See also under  Antiquities: Specific Doctrines & Practices, below.



See also William Killen above.

Miller, Samuel – Chapters 4-5 of The Primitive and Apostolical Order of the Church of Christ Vindicated  1840  398 pp.

Miller was the second professor of old Princeton Seminary.

Smyth, Thomas – Book 1, ch. 1 & Book 2, chs. 1-4 of Presbytery and not Prelacy the Scriptural Primitive Polity  

Smyth was a Southern presbyterian pastor in Charleston, near Thornwell and Girardeau.



Daley, Brian – The Hope of the Early Church.  A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology  Buy  2003  318 pp.




See also Antiquities above.


Psalm Singing in the Early Church

The History of Musical Instruments in Worship

Duchesne, L. – Christian Worship, its Origin and Evolution: a Study of the Latin Liturgy up to the Time of Charlemagne  1910  625 pp.

Srawley, J.H. – The Early History of the Liturgy  1913  270 pp.

“The best introduction.” – Owen Chadwick

Woolley, R.M. – The Liturgy of the Primitive Church  1910  190 pp.

Woolley was an Anglican.

Warren, F.E. – The Liturgy and Ritual of the Ante-Nicene Church  1897  375 pp.  in Side-Lights of Church History

MacDonald, A.B. – Christian Worship in the Primitive Church  1934  235 pp.

Macgregor, G.H.C. – Eucharistic Origins. A Survey of the New Testament Evidence. Bruce Lectures  Buy  1928

Synagogue Background

Oesterley, W.O.E. – The Jewish Background of the Christian Liturgy  1925  245 pp.

Oesterley & Box – Religion and Worship of the Synagogue  1911  475 pp.

Dugmore, C.W. – Influence of Synagogue Upon Divine Office  Buy  1945



Church Government


Calvin, John – Institutes of the Christian Religion  tr. Henry Beveridge  (1559; Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1845), vol. 3, bk. 4

4. ‘Of the State of the Primitive Church, and the Mode of Government in use before the Papacy’  73

5. ‘The Ancient Form of Government utterly corrupted by the tyranny of the Papacy’  89



Dictionary & Encyclopedias

See especially Encyclopedias & Dictionaries covering the whole of Church history as many have an emphasis on the early Church.



ed. Smith, W. & Wace, H. – A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects & Doctrines  1877-1887  up to AD 814

This is a better edition than the later, 1911, abridged, 2 vol. edition of Wace & Piercy, as it covers a more extensive time frame up till Charlemagne (instead of only up to AD 600) and has longer, more detailed articles.

“The works of Smith and Wace is very useful, relatively complete, and generally reliable.” – Otto Bardenhewer



Encyclopedia of Early Christianity  Buy  1990  1,252 pp.  ed. Everett Ferguson

Encyclopedia of the Early Church, 2 vols.  Buy  1992  Oxford

Fitzgerald, Allen – Augustine Through the Ages: an Encyclopedia  Buy  1999  951 pp.



On the Use of the Fathers


Turretin, Francis – 21. ‘Are the writings of the fathers the rule of truth in doctrines of faith and in the interpretation of the Scriptures?  We deny against the papists.’  in Institutes of Elenctic Theology, tr. George M. Giger, ed. James Dennison Jr.  (1679–1685; P&R, 1992), vol. 1, 2nd Topic, pp. 162-69



Daille, Jean – A Treatise concerning the Right Use of the Fathers  (1651)


Latin Articles

Voet, Gisbert

11. On the Fathers & Ecclesiastical Writings  in Syllabus of Theological Problems  (Utrecht, 1643), pt. 1, section 1, tract 1   Abbr.

Select Theological Disputations  (Utrecht: Waesberg, 1648), vol. 1

6. ‘Of the Fathers, or the Doctors of the Ancient Church’, pt. 1, pp. 74-87
7. pt. 2, pp. 87-106



Latin Article


Voet, Gisbert – Of the Ancient Church  in Syllabus of Theological Problems  (Utrecht, 1643), pt. 1, section 2, tract 4   Abbr.





Schaff, Philip – ‘Sources and Literature’ to AD 1-100, 100-325, 311-590   in History of the Christian Church

Meadville Theological School – Syllabus of Lessons & Lectures on the Creeds, Councils and Controversies of Christendom  1878  30 pp.  Pennsylvania, USA

This is an excellent, detailed bibliography by specific subject of the older literature.  While Meadville Theological School had some Unitarian influences at its founding, almost all of the references listed in the work are standard histories without such an influence.

Plummer, Alfred – ‘Ancient Historians’ & ‘Modern Writers’  1888  2 pp.  in The Church of the Early Fathers: External History

Plummer was a liberal Bible commentator and scholar.



Bardenhewer, Otto – ‘History & Literature of Patrology’ & ‘Literary Collections Relative to the Fathers of the Church. Collective Editions of their Writings. Principal Collections of Translations.’  in Patrology: the Lives and Works of the Fathers of the Church  1908

Richardson, Ernest – ‘Appendix’ of General Bibliography of 14 pp. & ‘Bibliographical Synopsis’ being bibliographies on all the church fathers in the volumes sequentially.  In Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 10, ed. A. Cleveland Coxe  1917

Very full, from a standard work.

Tixeront, Joseph – ‘Main Works on Patrology and on the History of Ancient Christian Literature’ & ‘Principal Patrological Collections’  1923  6 pp.  in A Handbook of Patrology

Most all of his references are to Latin, Greek, German and French works.

Stewardson, Jerry – Bibliography of Bibliographies on Patristics  Buy  1967

“This 52 page bibliography describes and lists the main bibliographical sources for patristics.  Arrangement is by subject in fourteen sections, with some cross references.  Asterisks are used to indicate particularly important bibliographies.  The annotations are detailed, and the work includes periodicals.” – G.E. & Lyn Gorman

Robinson, Thomas – The Early Church, an Annotated Bibiography  Buy  1993  522 pp.  ATLA Bibliography Series




Related Pages

Church History

Historical Theologies

Psalm Singing in the Early Church

The History of Musical Instruments in Worship