Read the Fathers

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Recommended Reading

Histories of theology

Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Doctrines.

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

Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700).

Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 3: The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300).

Pelikan, Jaroslav. Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition.

Introductions to the fathers

Hall, Christopher A. Worshipping with the Church Fathers.

Hall, Christopher A. Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers.

Hall, Christopher A. Learning Theology with the Church Fathers.

Ramsey, Boniface. Beginning to Read the Fathers.

Lives of the fathers

Farrar, F. W. Lives of the Fathers: Sketches of Church History in Biography. Volume 1, volume 2.

Other series of the fathers

The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, 125+ vols. (Catholic University of America Press, 1947–2012)

Popular Patristics Series (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press)

Oxford Early Christian Texts

Loeb Classical Library

Ancient Christian Writers (Newman Press)

Works by the fathers not included in ANF or NPNF

Pearse, Robert, ed. Early church fathers: additional texts


  1. The Newman Press also has its ‘Ancient Christian Writers’ series; these are very good and tend to come with excellent introductions, and sometimes even more excellent commentaries on the text.

    Another good introduction, but from a Catholic perspective, is Boniface Ramsay, Beginning to Read the Fathers.

  2. Robert Louis Wilken’s book The Spirit of Early Christian Thought ( is a great introduction to the Early Church. It’s informative, engaging, and readable. It’s the first book I recommend to people who are completely unfamiliar with the Early Church.

  3. I’ve found Hubertus Drobner, The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction to be an invaluable resource. Drobner gives basic background about the time period and various authors, and he will summarize the contents of the various writings. I find him most helpful, however, in directing me to the relevant literature, whether it be what translations are available for a particular work or various scholarly studies.

  4. Thomas Oden, a well-respected scholar, is the general editor of four excellent series of Patristic writings published with IVP Academic. These volumes feature fresh translations and high quality scholarship from experts in their fields. Highly recommended.

    Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, 29 volumes (

    Ancient Christian Doctrine, 5 volumes (

    Ancient Christian Texts, 10 volumes (

    Ancient Christian Devotional, 3 volumes (

  5. Under the heading “Introductions to the Fathers” I would encourage you to add “Life in the Trinity: An Introduction to Theology with the Help of the Church Fathers” by Don Fairbairn. It’s not an “introduction to the fathers” specifically, but it does lay a basic theological foundation (from an evangelical Protestant perspective) based on their writings. It will certainly clear the decks for thinking about theology in patristic categories.

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