The rich Christian heritage of East and West comes alive in the volumes of The Fathers of the Church, a series widely praised for its brilliant scholarship and unparalleled historical, literary, and theological significance. The series consists of more than 120 published volumes, with two new volumes published each year.
Spanning the first five centuries of Christian history, many of these ancient works had never been accessible in English before these publications—and many are still inaccessible outside of these editions. Containing hard-to-find writings from early church fathers, these volumes provide the best scholarship in translation and early church history, making these works not only delightful to read, but unmatched in patristic work.
In Logos, these works become the backbone of any study on the early church. Links to the patristic writings of the Early Church Fathers will bring you right to the source—to the very quote—allowing you to see instant context. Footnotes appear on mouseover, as well as references to Scripture and extra-biblical material in your library, and you can perform near-instant searches across these volumes, searching for references to keywords or Scripture passages.
This is the first English translation of the last two theological works of Eusebius of Caesarea, Against Marcellus and On Ecclesiastical Theology. The first text was composed after the deposition of Marcellus of Ancyra in 336 to justify the action of the council fathers in ordering the deposition on the grounds of heresy, contending that Marcellus was “Sabellian” (or modalist) on the Trinity and a follower of Paul of Samosata (hence adoptionist) in Christology. Relying heavily upon extensive quotations from a treatise Marcellus wrote against Asterius the Sophist, this text provides important information about ecclesiastical politics in the period before and just after the Council of Nicea, and endeavors to demonstrate Marcellus’s erroneous interpretation of several key biblical passages that had been under discussion since before the council. In doing so, Eusebius criticizes Marcellus’s inadequate account of the distinction between the persons of the Trinity, eschatology, and the Church’s teaching about the divine and human identities of Christ.
On Ecclesiastical Theology, composed circa 338/339 just before Eusebius’s death, and perhaps in response to the amnesty for deposed bishops enacted by Constantius after the death of Constantine in 377 and the possibility of Marcellus’s return to his see, continues to lay out the criticisms initially put forward in Against Marcellus, again utilizing quotations from Marcellus’s book against Asterius. However, we see in this text a much more systematic explanation of Eusebius’s objections to the various elements of Marcellus’s theology and what he sees as the proper orthodox articulation of those elements.
Long overlooked for statements at odds with later orthodoxy, even written off as heretical because allegedly “semi-Arian,” recent scholarship has demonstrated the tremendous influence these texts had on the Greek theological tradition in the fourth century, especially on the orthodox understanding of the Trinity. In addition to their influence, they are some of the few complete texts that we have from Greek theologians in the immediate period following the Council of Nicea in 325, thus filling a gap in the materials available for research and teaching in this critical phase of theological development.
Epiphanius of Cyprus was lead bishop of the island from 367 until his death in 403, and he was a contemporary of several of the great church fathers of the patristic era, including Athanasius, Basil, and Jerome. He is well known among modern scholars for his monumental heresiology, the Panarion, as well as for his involvement in several ecclesiastical and theological controversies. Before he began to write his magnum opus, however, he had already completed the Ancoratus, an important theological treatise, written in the form of a letter to Christians in southern Anatolia. The Ancoratus addressed numerous theological issues, particularly in response to the continuous disputes about the divinity of the Son, the developing arguments over the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and the early quarrels over the Incarnation of Christ. In addition, he included his thoughts on proper biblical exegesis, the problematic the- ology of Origen, and the relationship of the Christian faith with Hellenistic culture. Epiphanius’s convictions on these issues represented important contributions to the ongoing theological and cultural controversies of the late fourth century, but he has often been overshadowed in modern scholarship by the work of his more illustrious contemporaries. Because there has been no complete English translation of the Ancoratus to date, this volume adds significantly to the resources available for patristic studies.
St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote two works during the 380s attacking the Christological teaching of Apolinarius of Laodicea and his followers. These are the substantial treatise Refutation of the Views of Apolinarius (the Antirrheticus) and the short letter to the Bishop of Alexandria, To Theophilus, Against the Apollinarians. The Antirrheticus is a hostile commentary on Apolinarius’s work entitled The Demonstration (Apodeixis) of the Divine Enfleshment according to the Likeness of a Human Being. The Apodeixis has not survived independently, and our knowledge of it depends almost completely on Gregory.
The Antirrheticus is a neglected work, and this is the first English translation to be published. It has had a poor reputation among many modern scholars. Gregory is accused of being prolix and repetitive and of having misrepresented or misunderstood many of Apolinarius’s Christological ideas. It is argued here that the work is nevertheless of considerable theological interest. It is able in fact successfully to identify the principal problems raised by Apolinarius’s central concept of Christ as an “enfleshed mind,” and also provides an essential insight into Gregory’s own Christology and soteriology.
The translation is interweaved with a commentary to provide the reader with some guidance through the complexities of Gregory’s arguments. The introduction includes an overview of the history of Apollinarianism and discusses the extent to which it is possible to reconstruct, from the fragments quoted by Gregory, the arguments of Apolinarius’s Apodeixis to which he is responding. It also examines the background to and the chronology of both of Gregory’s anti-Apollinarian works, and looks critically at the arguments that they deploy.
Blind since early childhood, the Egyptian theologian and monk Didymus (ca. 313–398) wielded a masterful knowledge of Scripture, philosophy, and previous biblical interpretation, earning the esteem of his contemporaries Athanasius, Antony of Egypt, Jerome, Rufinus, and Palladius, as well as of the historians Socrates and Theodoret in the decades following his death. He was, however, anathematized by the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553 because of his utilization and defense of the works of Origen, and this condemnation may be responsible for the loss of many of Didymus’s writings. Jerome and Palladius mentioned that Didymus had written commentaries on Old Testament books; these commentaries were assumed to be no longer extant until the discovery in 1941 in Tura, Egypt, of papyri containing commentaries on Genesis, Zechariah, Job, Ecclesiastes, and some of the Psalms.
Certain features of the Genesis commentary, unfortunately not preserved in its entirety, seem to indicate that it may have been Didymus’s earliest work. In addition to his silence regarding his other works, remarks on specific heresies as well as Christological interpretations occur much less frequently here than in his Zechariah commentary. Moreover, the heavier reliance on Philo and Origen may indicate relative inexperience.
Whereas Didymus specifically names Philo in this commentary, he never identifies Origen as one of his sources even when quoting the latter verbatim. Like Origen, he rejects anthropomorphic interpretations and proceeds to an allegorical approach when the literal meaning repels him. He does not, however, neglect the literal-historical level; see, for example, his examination of the story of the flood. All three of Origen’s levels of interpretation—literal, moral, and allegorical—are mobilized here. This previously untranslated text is crucial for studies of the fourth century and of the monumental influence of Origen.
The Exposition of the Apocalypse by Tyconius of Carthage (fl. 380) was pivotal in the history of interpretation of the Book of Revelation. While expositors of the second and third centuries viewed the Apocalypse of John, or Book of Revelation, as mainly about the time of Antichrist and the end of the world, in the late fourth century Tyconius interpreted John’s visions as figurative of the struggles facing the Church throughout the entire period between the Incarnation and the Second Coming of Christ. Tyconius’s “ecclesiastical” reading of the Apocalypse was highly regarded by early medieval commentators like Caesarius of Arles, Primasius of Hadrumetum, Bede, and Beatus of Liebana, who often quoted from Tyconius’s Exposition in their own Apocalypse commentaries. Unfortunately no complete manuscript of the Exposition by Tyconius has survived. A number of recent scholars, however, believed that a large portion of his Exposition could be reconstructed from citations of it in the aforementioned early medieval writers; and this task was undertaken by Monsignor Roger Gryson. Gryson’s edition, a reconstruction of the Expositio Apocalypseos of Tyconius, was published in 2011 in Corpus Christianorum Series Latina. The present translation of that reconstructed text, with introduction and notes, exhibits Tyconius’s unique non-apocalyptic approach to the Book of Revelation. It also shows that throughout the Exposition Tyconius made use of interpretive rules that he had laid out in an earlier work on hermeneutics, the Book of Rules, strongly suggesting that Tyconius wrote his Exposition as a companion to his Book of Rules. Thus, the Exposition served as an exemplar of how those rules would apply to interpretation of even the most intriguing of biblical texts, the Apocalypse.
Rufinus of Aquileia’s History of the Church, published in 402 or 403, is a translation and continuation of that of Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius’s history tells the story of Christianity from its beginning down to the year 325; Rufinus carries the story forward to 395, the year of the death of Theodosius I. Rufinus demonstrates both a superb understanding of Eusebius’s text and a tendency to translate it freely or even to misrepresent it when he judges that it does not do justice to the unity of faith and order which he is convinced is an essential element of the church’s constitution. He excises and rewrites passages liberally, but he retains in his translation Eusebius’s revolutionary citation of sources, a historiographical method which would eventually prove so fruitful in the literature of the Latin church.
Despite the changes he felt he had to make in his translation, he was deeply influenced by Eusebius’s original when he composed his continuation. Just as Eusebius begins with a statement of Christian faith and a demonstration of its existence beyond the bounds of the Roman empire, continues with the story of its mission, persecution, divisions, and salvation despite its deprivation and suffering, and concludes with its secure establishment by the devout emperor Constantine, so Rufinus continues the story with the statement of faith of the Council of Nicaea, the account of its spread outside the Roman empire, the divisions and persecutions it suffered in his own time, and finally the victory over paganism of the orthodox emperor Theodosius.
Rufinus’s history was an immediate success. It was the first Latin Christian history, and as such it exerted great influence over his own generation and for a thousand years thereafter when the general ignorance of Greek in the Latin church made Eusebius’s original practically unavailable to it.
Maximos the Confessor (ca. 580-662) is now widely recognized as one of the greatest theological thinkers, not simply in the entire canon of Greek patristic literature, but in the Christian tradition as a whole. A peripatetic monk and prolific writer, his penetrating theological vision found expression in an unparalleled synthesis of biblical exegesis, ascetic spirituality, patristic theology, and Greek philosophy, which is as remarkable for its conceptual sophistication as for its labyrinthine style of composition. On Difficulties in Sacred Scripture, presented here for the first time in a complete English translation (including the 465 scholia), contains Maximos’s virtuosic theological interpretations of 65 difficult passages from the Old and New Testaments. Because of its great length, along with its linguistic and conceptual difficulty, the work as a whole has been largely neglected. Yet alongside the Ambigua to John, On Difficulties in Sacred Scripture: The Responses to Thalassios deserves to be ranked as the Confessor’s greatest work and one of the most important patristic treatises on the interpretation of Scripture, combining the interconnected traditions of monastic devotion to the Bible, the biblical exegesis of Origen, the sophisticated symbolic theology of Dionysius the Areopagite, and the rich spiritual anthropology of Greek Christian asceticism inspired by the Cappadocian Fathers.
Cyril, bishop of Alexandria from 412 to 444, is renowned both as one of the most authoritative of all the fathers of the church, and at the same time as one of the most controversial of all church politicians. He oversaw the final extinguishing of pagan religion from Alexandria, and also spent the height of his career as a statesman and an author fighting the doctrines of Nestorius, whose excommunication he brought about at the Council of Ephesus (431). Having spent the first fifteen years of his episcopate writing extensive commentaries on Scripture, from 429 onwards Cyril turned his enormous learning and talent for penning and distributing polemic tracts to the development of doctrinal orthodoxy after he sensed that the new ideas coming out of Constantinople threatened the very core of the Christian doctrines of Incarnation and salvation. The three treatises here translated into English for the first time all belong to the period around the ecumenical council. On Orthodoxy to Theodosius was written for the emperor, a year before the council met, with the aim of persuading him that Nestorius’s sermons were heretical and that his task as leader of both church and state was to ensure right religious observance. The Defense against the Bishops of Oriens and the Defense against Theodoret were written in the months leading up to the council when Cyril found himself required to defend his notorious “Twelve Chapters (or Anathemas),” which many bishops in other parts of the empire felt had gone too far in an anti-Nestorian direction. All three works were key parts of Cyril’s battle for orthodoxy and mark key moments in the church’s progress towards the definition of Christological orthodoxy that was made at Chalcedon.
Ephrem the Syrian was born in Nisibis (Nusaybin, Turkey) around 306 CE, and died in Edessa (Sanliurfa, Turkey) in 373. He was a prolific author, composing over four hundred hymns, several metrical homilies, and at least two scriptural commentaries. His extensive literary output warrants mention alongside other well-known fourth-century authors, such as Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil of Caesarea. Yet Ephrem wrote in neither Greek nor Latin, but in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic. His voice opens to the reader a fourth-century Christian world perched on the margins between the Roman and Persian Empires. Ephrem is known for a theology that relies heavily on symbol and for a keen awareness of Jewish exegetical traditions. Yet he is also our earliest source for the reception of Nicaea among Syriac-speaking Christians. It is in his 87 Hymns on Faith–the longest extant piece of early Syriac literature–that he develops his arguments against subordinationist christologies most fully. These hymns, most likely delivered orally and compiled after the author’s death, were composed in Nisibis and Edessa between the 350s and 373. They reveal an author conversant with Christological debates further to the west, but responding in a uniquely Syriac idiom. As such, they form an essential source for reconstructing the development of pro-Nicene thought in the eastern Mediterranean. Yet, the Hymns on Faith offer far more than a simple Syriacpro-Nicene catechetical literature. In these hymns Ephrem reflects upon the mystery of God and the limits of human knowledge. He demonstrates a sophisticated grasp of symbol and metaphor and their role in human understanding. The Hymns on Faith are translated here for the first time in English on the basis of Edmund Beck’s critical edition.