Early Church History

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Church History

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Order of Contents

About
Where to Start?
History
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Patrologies  8
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   On Early Church Literature  8
.    Brief Histories  9
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   In-Depth Histories  18
.    Antiquities  5

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   Eastern and Latin Churches  3

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 Special Periods  9

Doctrines  12
Councils & Creeds
  16
Dictionary & Encyclopedias
  4
Primary Sources

Bibliographies
  7

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About

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.

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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.”


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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.


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Patrologies

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.

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1600’s-1700’s

“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 was one of the main protestant historians of the early Church.

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1800’s

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.

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1900’s

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.

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


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On Early Church Literature

1800’s

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.

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1900’s

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.

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2000’s

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.

Ayres


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Brief Histories

1800’s

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.

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1900’s

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.

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


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In-Depth Histories

1600’s

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.

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1700’s

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

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1800’s

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.

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1900’s

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

Moeller was a German professor.

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

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

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

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.”


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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.

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General

1700’s

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.

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1800’s

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

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

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

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1900’s

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

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Specific Practices & Doctrines

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.

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.


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Histories of the Eastern and 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.

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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


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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.

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0-200 AD

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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300-1100 AD

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


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Early Church Doctrines

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

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1800’s

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.

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.

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1900’s

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.

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

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2000’s

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.

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Specific Doctrines in the Early Church

God

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

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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.

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Worship

Psalm Singing in the Early Church

The History of Musical Instruments in Worship

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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 and 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.

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Presbyterianism

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.

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Eschatology

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


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On the Early Church Councils & Creeds

Primary Sources

The Creeds

In English

Reformed.org has the main early Church creeds

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In Greek & Latin

ed. Schaff, Philip – The Creeds of Christendom, vol. 2  1896

A standard edition of most all of the early Church creeds, with the English and original languages on opposing columns.  See vol. 1 below for historical background on these creeds.

Patristica.net is easy to use for the creeds in the original languages opposite an English translation.  Scroll down, click on the bolded councils, click ‘English’, click ‘ok’.

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The Councils

In English

ed. Percival – The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church: their Canons and Dogmatic Decrees, together with the Canons of all the Local Synods which have Received Ecumenical Acceptance  in ed. Schaff & Wace – Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 14

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In Greek & Latin

Here is an easy edition to consult for the first four councils:

ed. Lambert, William – The Canons of the First Four General Councils of the Church and those of the Early, Local, Greek Synods, in Greek with Latin, with English in parallel columns  1869  185 pp.

The standard, older edition of all the councils in Latin from the beginning up to 1902 AD is:

ed. Mansi, et al. – Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, 51 vols.  1903-27  Paris

Here is a very brief table of contents of all the volumes.  Here is a very detailed table of contents up through volume 46 (1902).  Here is an Author Index up through the first 35 volumes (1724).

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Secondary Sources on the Creeds & Councils Generally

1800’s

Pusey, E.B. – The Councils of the Church from the Council of Jerusalem A.D. 51 to the Council of Constantinople A.D. 381, Chiefly as to their Constitution but also as to their Objects and History  1857  380 pp.

Pusey was a high-church Anglican who had a following named after him.  He wrote an excellent scholarly defense of the book of Daniel.

Lumby, J. Rawson – The History of the Creeds  1873  280 pp.  The work covers ante-Nicene creeds, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed & the Athanasian Creed

ed. Schaff, Philip – The Creeds of Christendom, vol. 1  1896

This gives the historical background on the early Church creeds.  For the creeds themselves, see vol. 2 above.

Hefele, Charles – A History of the Councils of the Church from the Original Documents, vol. 1 (to 326), 2 (326-429), 3 (431-451), 4 (451-680), 5 (626-780)  1894/6

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1900’s

Landon, Edward – A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church, vol. 1 (A-N), 2 (O-Z)  1909  In a dictionary layout.

Turner, Cuthbert – The History and Use of Creeds and Anathemas in the Early Centuries of the Church  1910  120 pp.

Kelly, J.N.D. – Early Christian Creeds  Buy  1950  450 pp.

Margull, Hans – The Councils of the Church; History and Analysis  1966  550 pp.

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The Apostles’ Creed

King, P. – The History of the Apostles’ Creed, with Critical Observations on its Several Articles  1719  430 pp.

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The Council of Nicea, 325 AD

Kaye, John – Some Account of the Council of Nicea, in Connexion with the Life of Athanasius  1853  320 pp.

Ayres, Lewis – Nicaea and its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth Century Trinitarian Theology  Buy  2006  490 pp.

Ayres

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The Athanasian Creed

Waterland, Daniel – A Critical History of the Athanasian Creed  1723, rev. 1870 by King  320 pp.

Waterland (1683–1740) was a conservative Anglican.

Horne, Thomas Hartwell – A Concise History and Analysis of the Athanasian Creed  1834  35 pp.

Horne was a very conservative English theologian and librarian.  His introduction and background to the Bible was long used at Princeton.


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Dictionary & Encyclopedias

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

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Dictionary

ed. Smith, W. & Wace, H. – A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects, and 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

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Encyclopedias

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.


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Primary Sources for the Early Church Fathers

Councils & Creeds

The Fathers

In English

The Ante-Nicene, Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers  38 vols. up to AD 800  ed. Roberts, Donaldson, Schaff  This is a very easy to use online edition.  See also CCEL.  

Here is the Subject Index to the fathers before the council of Nicea, AD 325.  Here is their Scripture Index.  The Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers do not have a general index, though they have indices at the end of each volume.

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In Greek & Latin

ed. J.P. Migne  1844-66

Patrologia Graeca  161 vols.  to AD 800

These are the older, standard, mostly exhaustive editions of the early Church fathers in the original languages.

Here is a basic table of contents in Latin to the Greek volumes.  Here are more detailed tables of contents when you click on each volume; or here is another such table.

Here is a very helpful author index to their various works in and within various volumes.  Here is an even more detailed author index which is good for lesser known figures mentioned within the volumes.  The bold Arabic numbers are the volume number in the Greek series.  The non-bold numbers to the right of the name of the work of the author are the column numbers in the particular volume.

Here is a doctrinal index to the Greek series, with a Scripture index and other indices following, such as genre, etc.  See the table of contents at the back of the index-volume for more such indices.

Here is an Index to key Greek words in a smaller set of writings of the fathers.  The reference 1 Clem. 4:10, for example, refers to 1 Clement, chapter 4 in any edition of 1 Clement.  The 10 refers to the ‘verse’ of an antiquated edition and may be disregarded.

Helpful individual indexes to each volume in the Migne series are at the back of each of those volumes.

Computer search a subsection of these Greek texts here.  BiblIndex allows one to search for all Scripture references and allusions in these Greek texts.

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Patrologia Latina  221 vols.  to AD 1200  Here is background on this set.

Here is a basic table of contents to the series.  Here is a detailed table of contents in Latin to the first 84 vols.  Here is a very detailed table of contents in French to all the volumes.

Here is the Author Index.  Here are bios of all the authors.

Here are the Doctrinal & Subject Indices, 1, 2.  Here is the Sermon Index by Scripture text.  Here is a Poetry Index by subject.

Helpful individual indices are at the back of each volume in the series.  Many more helpful indices are in the last four volumes of the series:  218, 219, 220, 221.  The first is full of general indices, the last three are special indices.

Here is an Index to key Latin words in a smaller set of writings of the fathers.  The reference 1 Clem. 4:10, for example, refers to 1 Clement, chapter 4 in any edition of 1 Clement.  The 10 refers to the ‘verse’ of an antiquated edition and may be disregarded.

 BiblIndex allows one to search for all Scripture references and allusions in these Latin texts.


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Bibliographies

1800’s

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.

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1900’s

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

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Related Pages

Church History

Historical Theologies

Psalm Singing in the Early Church

The History of Musical Instruments in Worship