Skip to Main Content
Early Christian Studies, sometimes referred to as Patristic Studies, normally refers to the time period of 100 CE - 600 BCE (though this can be debated). This guide will provide students with the proper resources (ebooks, journals, databases) in order to better familiarize them with the period, help in research projects within this time period, and provide avenues for further study. This guide will not include resources for NT research, which can be found in the "Biblical Studies" guide.
Databases & Websites
This is an electronic database of Jacques-Paul Migne's magisterial Patrologia Latina. This includes the writings of all the major Latin works of authors from Tertullian (200 CE) up to Pope Innocent III's death in 1216. This database is older and unfortunately not very user friendly. There is no browse feature, you need to know what it is you are looking for in order to find it.
Monastica is an open access digital platform for research on the transmission of the so called Sayings of the Desert, known in Greek as the Apophthegmata Patrum and in Latin as the Verba Seniorum, as well as closely related early monastic literature. It is a dynamic library of texts as well as a complex relational database and advanced tools for scholarly collaboration in gathering, analysing, visualizing, publishing and sharing the complex fluid textual tradition of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers in multiple languages. Through the easily accessed interactive platform, collaborative work on input and revision as well as display and analysis of texts and data is facilitated.
Migne, Patrologia Graeca
This website provides links to Migne's books as scanned by either Google, through their GoogleBooks project, or through the HathiTrust. This site only links to the Greek portion of Migne's work. Another similar site can be found HERE
Migne, Patrologia Latina (via Google Books)
Similar to the Greek version but now with the Latin Fathers. Other similar sites can be found HERE
Early Christian Writings - Church Fathers
This provides access to early Christian writings from the Didache unil the time of Origen. This only provides access to works that have now entered the public domain.
BiblIndex Index of Biblical Quotations in Early Christian Literature
BiblIndex is an index of biblical references found in Christian literature, both Western and Eastern texts, at present covering the three first centuries, along with part of the fourth. The eventual goal is to cover the whole Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, in order to renew the study of the interpretation and history of biblical texts. BiblIndex also may be used as an online Synoptic Bible (Biblical tools) or as an Index of Patristic Works (Patristical tools). Access to data is completely free.
Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte
Though the title is in German, this massive series is a collection of the Greek Christian authors of the first four centuries CE in Greek. The HaithiTrust has full access to the earlier volumes but not the more recent ones (past 1910).
Vigiliae Christianae Supplements Online
This provides access to Vigiliae Christianae's supplementary monograph series that deals with a variety of subjects within the broader topic of early Christian studies. The DTL does not have access to all of the monographs but if they have a green rectangle next to them they are available.
The Early Church Fathers (via CCEL)
This website offers open access to Philip Schaff's collection of Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers: 50 volumes in total. This collection is hosted by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library but there are other websites that offer the same titles in slightly different format HERE
Cambridge History of Christianity vol. 1 - Origins to Constantine by
"Over thirty essays provide a comprehensive overview of the essential events, persons, places and issues involved in the emergence of the Christian religion in the Mediterranean world over the first three centuries. The collection traces the dynamic history from the time of Jesus through to the rise of Imperial Christianity in the fourth century. It provides a thoughtful and well-documented analysis of the diverse forms of Christian community, identity and practice that arose soon after Jesus's death, and which through missionary efforts were soon implanted throughout the Roman Empire." - Cambridge University Press
Cambridge History of Christianity vol. 2 - Constantine to c. 600 by
"This volume in the Cambridge History of Christianity presents the 'Golden Age' of patristic Christianity. After episodes of persecution by the Roman government, Christianity emerged as a licit religion enjoying imperial patronage and eventually became the favoured religion of the empire. The articles in this volume discuss the rapid transformation of Christianity during late antiquity, giving specific consideration to artistic, social, literary, philosophical, political, inter-religious and cultural aspects. The volume moves away from simple dichotomies and reductive schematizations (e.g., 'heresy v. orthodoxy') toward an inclusive description of the diverse practices and theories that made up Christianity at this time. Whilst proportional attention is given to the emergence of the Great Church within the Roman Empire, other topics are treated as well - such as the development of Christian communities outside the empire." - Cambridge University Press
The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature by
"The output of Christian literature between c.100 and c.400 represents one of the most influential periods of textual oeuvres in any religion. Written mainly in Greek, Latin and Syriac, it emanated from all parts of the early Christian world and helped extend its boundaries. This History offers a systematic account of that literature and its setting. The work of individual writers is considered alongside three general essays that survey the social, cultural and doctrinal context within which Christian literature arose." - Cambridge University Press
Documents in Early Christian Thought by
"The purpose of this book is to bring within a single volume a representative selection of extracts from the writings of the Early Christian fathers, covering the main areas of Christian thought. The extracts, for the most part newly translated by the editors, are arranged by topic under the following headings: God, Trinity, Christ, Holy Spirit, Sin and Grace, Tradition and Scripture, Church, Sacraments, Christian Living, Church and Society, and Final Goal. Care has been taken to reflect the full range of writing on these themes - exposition and commentary, homily, epistle and polemic - and the extracts are of sufficient length to show the distinctive flavour of each individual writer. Annotation has been kept to a minimum, but each main section has a short introduction which places the extracts in their particular context within the development of Christian thought." - CUP
Early Christian Creeds by
"A comprehensive study of the rise, development and use of credal formulaines in the creative centuries of the Church's history." - Routledge
Early Christian World by
"The work begins by firmly situating early Christianity within its Mediterranean social, political and religious contexts, before charting the history of the first Christian centuries. The creation and perpetuation of Christian communities through various means, including mission and monasticism, is explored, as is the everyday experience of early Christians, through discussion of gender and sexuality, religious practice, communication and social structures. The intellectual (particularly theological) and artistic heritage of the period is fully considered, and a vivid picture painted of the internal and external challenges faced by early Christianity. The book concludes with profiles of the most notable figures of the age." - Routledge
Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity by
"The Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity covers eight centuries of the Christian Church and comprises 3,220 entries by a team of 266 scholars from 26 countries representing a variety of Christian traditions. It draws upon such fields as archaeology, art and architecture, biography, cultural studies, ecclesiology, geography, history, philosophy, and theology. This edition updates and expands on previous Italian and English-language editions with the addition of more than 500 new articles (added to the current Italian or English edition). Extensive cross-referencing provides ease in exploring related articles, and helpful bibliographies, including primary sources (texts, critical editions, translations) and key secondary sources (books and journal articles), give access to in-depth scholarship in countless disciplines of study." --From publisher's description.
Encyclopedia of Early Christianity by
"This single-volume encyclopedia contains 977 articles by 135 qualified scholars of various academic and ecumenical backgrounds, with coverage extending from New Testament times to approximately 600 A.D. Entries cover persons, places, doctrines, and practices and include some articles on modern scholars important to the study of early Christianity. The entries vary in length, but each begins with a brief definition, or identification, followed by chronological or topical development. Excellent short bibliographies following each article give patristic citations, editions, translations, and studies. The articles avoid technical language and provide good basic summaries of the material." C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, Ind.
Handbook of Patristic Exegesis by
"Through this Handbook of Patristic Exegesis, the reader will obtain a balanced and cohesive picture of the Early Church. It gives an overall view of the reception, transmission, and interpretation of the Bible in the life and thought of the Church during the first five centuries of Christianity, the so-called patristic era. The handbook offers the context and presuppositions necessary for understanding the development of the interpretative traditions of the Early Church, in its catechesis, its liturgy and as a foundation of its systems of theology. The handbook presents a comprehensive overview of the history of patristic exegesis. Apart from a general introduction to the major topics in this field, it contains essays by leading patristic scholars on the most important Church Fathers, such as Augustine, Irenaeus, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and others. The essays are supplemented by bibliographies of editions and studies on patristic exegesis published from 1945 until 1995. Together, these bibliographies form the only comprehensive bibliography presently available on this topic." - Brill
Origen: Contra Celsum by
"Few works of the early Church are as interesting to the modern reader or as important to the historian as Origen's reply to the attack on Christianity made by the pagan Celsus. The Contra Celsum is the culmination of the great apologetic movement of the second and third centuries AD, and is for the Greek Church what St Augustine's City of God is for Western Christendom. It is also one of the chief monuments of the coming together of ancient Greek culture and the new faith of the expanding Christian society. Thus Origen's work is of interest not only to the historian and theologian, but also to the hellenist. Professor Chadwick's English translation is preceded by a substantial introduction which includes discussion on Celsus' date, identity and theological outlook, as well as an account of Origen's philosophical background and method. The notes elucidate the many obscure allusions of a difficult text." - CUP
The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies by
"The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies responds to and celebrates the explosion of research in this interdisciplinary field over recent decades. A one-volume reference work, it provides an introduction to the academic study of early Christianity (c. 100-600 AD) and examines the vast geographical area impacted by the early church, in Western and Eastern late antiquity. It is thematically arranged to encompass history, literature, thought, practices, and material culture. It contains authoritative and up-to-date surveys of current thinking and research in the various subfields of early Christian studies, written by leading figures in the discipline. The essays orient readers to a given topic, as well as to the trajectory of research developments over the past 30-50 years within the scholarship itself. Guidance for future research is also given. Each essay points the reader towards relevant forms of extant evidence (texts, documents, or examples of material culture), as well as to the appropriate research tools available for the area." - Oxford University Press
Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics by
"This comprehensive volume brings together a team of distinguished scholars to create a wide-ranging introduction to patristic authors and their contributions to not only theology and spirituality, but to philosophy, ecclesiology, linguistics, hagiography, liturgics, homiletics, iconology, and other fields." - Blackwell
Journal of Early Christian Studies
Journal of Early Christian Studies focuses on the study of Christianity in the context of late ancient societies and religions from C.E. 100-700. The Journal publishes the best of traditional patristics scholarship while showcasing articles that call attention to newer methodologies and themes often absent from other patristic journals. Every issue features an extensive book review section.
Vigiliae Christianae contains articles and short notes of an historical, cultural, linguistic or philological nature on early Christian literature written after the New Testament, as well as on Christian epigraphy and archaeology. Church and dogmatic history are dealt with as they relate to social history; Byzantine and medieval literature are treated as far as they exhibit continuity with the early Christian period.