Welcome! If you would like to join us in reading the church fathers daily, here are some suggestions for getting started.
1. Get a copy of the church fathers.
We’ve based this reading plan on the nine volumes of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, and the twenty-eight volumes of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Read why).
This edition is available in its entirety in high quality digital editions from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, hosted by Calvin College. CCEL has online, PDF, plain text, EPUB, Kindle, and iBooks editions. Each day a blog post will link to the starting page of the day’s readings at CCEL.
Nearly any academic library and some larger public libraries will have copies of this edition.
The edition has been recently reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers. While you may be able to find older printing at better prices, you will likely have better luck finding the Hendrickson reprint edition. Here are the ISBNs for the three series and for the entire set, along with links to online booksellers. These booksellers sometimes offer these sets at a heavy discount.
- Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., Ante-Nicene Fathers (10 vols.). ISBN-13: 9781565630826. Hendrickson Publishers | Christian Book Distributors | Amazon.com | BookFinder.com
- Philip Schaff, ed., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series (14 vols.). ISBN-13: 9781565630949. Hendrickson Publishers | Christian Book Distributors | Amazon.com | BookFinder.com
- Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series (14 vols.). ISBN-13: 9781565631168. Hendrickson Publishers | Christian Book Distributors | Amazon.com | BookFinder.com
- ANF, NPNF series 1 and 2, complete set (38 vols.). ISBN-13: 9781565630819. Hendrickson Publishers | Christian Book Distributors | Amazon.com | BookFinder.com
Logos Bible Software sells the an electronic edition from these same texts in two versions, Protestant and Catholic. The text is identical in both editions, but the Protestant edition includes the prefaces while the Catholic version omits them.
If you’d like to read the texts in other editions, please do. See the Recommended Reading page for other large sets of the fathers. Before each major work we also write a blog post mentioning other editions.
2. Keep track of the calendar of daily readings.
This website has a calendar of the daily readings, which you can print out. The home page of this website will list the readings for the current day, along with a link to the free CCEL edition. You can subscribe to daily updates via RSS, e-mail, Twitter, and Google Calendar / iCal with the links on the sidebar of this page.
If you’re joining the readings midway through the cycle, jump in with the most recent text on the day you want to start. If you’ve fallen behind, find a good place to rejoin the readings. There is no reason to feel obligated to pore over every page; you’ll be better served by keeping up by skipping than by feeling bad for falling behind.
3. Pick a time to read.
You’re more likely to be successful if you schedule your daily readings consistently, perhaps after a time of daily prayer. One tradition with ancient roots is to include a reading from the fathers in the daily office.
4. Find a partner to read with.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another.” Finding a study partner with whom you can discuss and debate the partners will aid your understanding. Perhaps a weekly meeting with a spouse, friend, fellow churchgoer, or pastor will help you both learn from the fathers.
5. Let us know that you’ve joined the reading community.
If you’re following this reading plan, let us know with a comment on this page (even if it’s anonymous). It will be an encouragement to everyone! You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Consider helping out.
If you’d like to help keep the community going, here are a few suggestions of what you can do.