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Recommended Reading

Histories of ancient Christianity

Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. (The most straightforward single-volume history of ancient Christianity)

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. Living Wisely with the Church 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.

Wilken, Robert Louis. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought.

Lives of the fathers

Benedict XVI. The Fathers. Volume 1, volume 2.

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

Reference works

Di Berardino, Angelo, Thomas C. Oden, and Joel C. Elowsky. Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity. (3 very large vols)

Di Berardino, Angelo. Patrology: The Eastern Fathers from the Council of Chalcedon (451) to John of Damascus (750). (Operates as a fifth volume of Quasten, below)

Drobner, Hubertus R. The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction.

Quasten, Johannes. Patrology. 4 vols.

Other series of the fathers

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

Ancient Christian Writers (Newman Press)

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

Oxford Early Christian Texts

Loeb Classical Library (includes only a limited selection of Christian texts; this selection will no longer be expanded)

Less important for this reading plan but good to know when expanding your reading:

Ancient Christian Texts (IVP, full-length translations of ancient Bible commentaries; different from Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture and Ancient Christian Doctrine)

Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (includes some fathers at early end of spectrum)

Writings from the Greco-Roman World (Society for Biblical Literature — not exclusively the fathers)

Translated Texts for Historians (Liverpool University Press — late antique texts from c. 200-800, including some fathers)

Works by the fathers not included in ANF or NPNF

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

MJH (the admin of Read the Fathers, Matthew). Church Fathers Online — includes links to ANF, NPNF, Pearse, and other texts they miss.


  1. Scholiast

    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.

    • Lincoln Mullen

      Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve added them to the list. I hadn’t noticed till now that Ramsay’s book is out in a new edition this year.

  2. Ryan Clevenger

    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. Brian Collins

    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. Wesley

    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. Adam David Rick

    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.

  6. Sherri A Webb

    I started this before, but didn’t want to start in the middle. Very happy you are offering this again. Thank you.

    • Matthew

      Very happy you are able to join us! I understand the desire to start at the beginning! :)

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