Theology from A Bunch of Dead Guys™
The Hall of Church History
The Church Fathers
"Be not slothful, but followers of them
who through faith and patience
inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:12).

he Church Fathers are a wonderful source of rich and rewarding material. But they cannot be read uncritically. It is obvious from the New Testament that doctrinal confusion, legalism, sacerdotalism, and gnostic error were beginning to find their way into the church even before the canon was closed. The writings of the Church Fathers are not free from such influences. Moreover, the next three centuries were a long chronicle of doctrinal conflict, and these men whom we call Church Fathers did not always agree with one another.
    It is therefore a mistake to view the Church Fathers' writings as if they had some sort of canonical authority. These men were not apostles. They were not infallible.
    Yet it is an even greater mistake to ignore what the Fathers had to say. If we stand on their shoulders, we can see beyond some of the obstacles that hampered their vision. The church of our generation has much to learn from these men who stood so valiantly for truth and fought so determinedly against error. These links pertain specifically to the Church Fathers through Augustine of Hippo.

Pompeii Virtual Tour--A Christian Perspective

The Christian Catacombs of Rome

Information and history about the ancient underground cemeteries used by Christian and Jewish communities as burial sites from the second century through the fifth. Did you know Christians never actually sought refuge from persecution by taking up residence in the catacombs? That's a popular fiction. But they did sometimes worship there to escape their tormentors. Read all about it in this well-designed Web site.

Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha and Sacred Writings

"Holy" writings of questionable pedigree. Note: The Book of Mormon is heavily promoted on the Web site at this link. Mormonism is a type of latter-day gnosticism—and in that sense the Mormon apocrypha fits well on this page. Most scholars, however, would probably regard the inclusion of Mormon works on this page (The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Doctrine and Covenants) as malapropos.

Eusebius of Caesarea: Church History

This is the only surviving account of the church from the first 300 years of the Christian era. It is a crucial work, written by the Bishop of Caesaria, from the time of Constantine the Great. (Eusebius wasn't the most discerning fellow, though. he was known to have sympathies with Arius at the beginning of the Arian Controversy.)

Early Church Fathers

The following documents are links to The Christian Classics Ethereal Library. These documents are the fruit of much labor from The Electronic Bible Society, and are one of the most valuable resources on the World Wide Web. Thanks to Harry Plantinga and CCEL for making them available.

Ante-Nicene Fathers
The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325

Volume I.  The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
Clement of Rome, Mathetes, Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus

Volume II.  Fathers of the Second Century
Hermas, Tatian, Theophilus, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria

Volume III.  Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian
Three Parts: I. Apologetic; II. Anti-Marcion; III. Ethical

Volume IV.  The Fathers of the Third Century
Tertullian Part IV; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen

Volume V.  The Fathers of the Third Century
Hippolytus; Cyprian; Caius; Novatian; Appendix

Volume VI.  The Fathers of the Third Century
Gregory Thaumaturgus; Dinysius the Great; Julius Africanus; Anatolius and Minor Writers; Methodius; Arnobius

Volume VII.  Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries
Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, Liturgies

Volume VIII.  Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries
The Twelve Patriarchs, Excerpts and Epistles, The Clementia, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac Documents, Remains of the First Ages

Volume X.  Recently Discovered Additions to Early Christian Literature; Commentaries of Origen
The Gospel of Peter, The Diatessaron of Tatian, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Visio Pauli, The Apocalypses of the Virgin and Sedrach, The Testament of Abraham, The Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, The Narrative of Zosimus, The Apology of Aristides, The Epistles of Clement (Complete Text), Origen's Commentary on John, Books I-X, Origen's Commentary on Mathew, Books I, II, and X-XIV


Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
St. Augustine Volumes

Volume I.  Prolegomena: St. Augustine's Life and Work, Confessions, Letters

Volume II.  The City of God, Christian Doctrine

Volume III.  On the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises, Moral Treatises

Volume IV.  The Anti-Manichaean Writings, The Anti-Donatist Writings

Volume V.  Anti-Pelagian Writings

Volume VI.  Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels

Volume VII.  Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies

Volume VIII.  Expositions on the Psalms

St. Chrysostom Volumes

Volume IX.  On the Priesthood, Ascetic Treatises, Select Homilies and Letters, Homilies on the Statutes

Volume X.  Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew

Volume XI.  Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans

Volume XII.  Homilies on First and Second Corinthians

Volume XIII.  Homilies on the Epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon

Volume XIV.  Homilies on the Gospel of St. John and the Epistle to the Hebrews


Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
Series II

Volume I.  Eusebius: Church History from A.D. 1-324, Life of Constantine the Great, Oration in Praise of Constantine

Volume II.  Socrates: Church History from A.D. 305-438; Sozomenus: Church History from A.D. 323-425

Volume III.  Theodoret, Jerome and Gennadius, Rufinus and Jerome

Volume IV.  Athanasius: Select Writings and Letters

Volume V.  Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises; Select Writings and Letters

Volume VI.  Jerome: Letters and Select Works

Volume VII.  Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen

Volume VIII.  Basil: Letters and Select Works

Volume IX.  Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus

Volume X.  Ambrose: Select Works and Letters

Volume XI.  Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian

Volume XII.  Leo the Great, Gregory the Great

Volume XIII.  Gregory the Great II, Ephriam Syrus, Aphrahat

Volume XIV.  The Seven Ecumenical Councils

Didache (date unknown; possibly as early as A.D. 60. But some scholars argue for a date as late as 150)

"The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the Twelve Apostles." This is a very early manual on doctrine and morals. It contrasts the two ways—the Way of Life and the Way of Death.

First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (ca. A.D. 96)

A rare first-century document. This epistle gives instructions to the churches. Peter and Paul are both mentioned here as martyrs.

The Epistle of Barnabas (ca. A.D. 130)

It is unlikely that the author of this epistle was the Barnabas of Acts. Nonetheless, the first part of this epistle echoes the aposte Paul's warnings against the legalistic errors of the Judaizers in the early Church. The second part reads much like Didache (below), contrasting the two ways of knowledge and doctrine—the way of darkness and the way of light.

Second Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (ca. A.D. 150)

The actual author is unknown.

The Shepherd of Hermas (ca. A.D. 150)

The identity of Hermas is a matter of some debate. According to the Muratorian Canon, he was a brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome. According to the opening section of his work, Hermas was a Christian slave set free in Rome by a benevolent woman named Rhoda. The work is a series of visions Hermas claimed to have, and its title comes from an angel he says appeared in one of his visions as a shepherd.

The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians (ca. A.D. 130?)

Polycarp's exhortations to the church at Philippi.

The Writings of Ignatius

The Works of Tertullian:

Athanasius: On the Incarnation.
The classic defense of the deity of Christ and the Trinity. Complete with C. S. Lewis's preface to the modern English edition.

The Writings of Augustine:


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