A Year With the Church Fathers: Reading List

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It’s not too late to register to join our 2021 Patristics Reading Group. Please review the following reading list (subject to change).

* = Likely to be discussed in our monthly video meeting.
** = Highly recommended. May also be discussed in the monthly meeting.

Most of the reading is available for free at ccel.org or in The Complete Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection ($2.99 on Kindle). Other primary and secondary resources are included for further study.

Introductory & Companion Guides

  1. Gavin Ortlund, Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals: Why We Need Our Past to Have a Future (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019). 224 pages.
  2. Eusebius: The Church History (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2007), edited by Paul L. Maier. 368 pages.
  3. Everett Ferguson, Church History, Volume One: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), Second Edition. See especially Chs. 3–14. Scribd.
  4. [Video] Scott Harrower, “Scott Harrower on the Apostolic Fathers,” Holy Joys. This lecture provides a bridge from the New Testament to the writings of Irenaeus.
  5. Bryan M. Litfin, Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016), Second Edition. 290 pages. Scribd.
  6. Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), The Fathers of the Church: From Clement of Rome to Augustine of Hippo (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009). 189 pages.
  7. Boniface Ramsey, Beginning to Read the Church Fathers (New York / Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2012), Revised Edition. 320 pages.
  8. Christopher A. Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1998). 223 pages.

January — Irenaeus (130–202?)

  1. *On the Apostolic Preaching
  2. **Against Heresies (Books III–V)
  3. Against Heresies (Books I–II)
  4. Secondary resources:

February — Tertullian (155–240?)

  1. *Against Praxeas
    • Paperback: Aeterna Press, pp. 5–58 (54 pages). $13. This volume includes Against Praxeas and numerous apologetic and practical treatises.
    • Digital: ccel.org. Free.
  2. *Apology
  3. **On Baptism
  4. **On Prayer
  5. Secondary resources:
    • [Video] Chris Bounds, “Tertullian,” Holy Joys. Dr. Bounds spoke to our Ad Fontes group on February 26, 2021.
    • [Article] Kyle R. Hughes, “Tertullian: A Critical Biography.”
    • See the relevant sections in the introductory and companion guides above.

March — Origen (184–253)

  1. *On First Principles
    • Paperback: Oxford University Press. 448 pages. $34. Translated by John Behr. For this work, we do not recommend the translation in the Ante-Nicene & Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers Collection.
  2. **On Prayer
    • Paperback: Popular Patristics Series. $19. This volume includes treatises on the Lord’s Prayer from Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen.
  3. Secondary resources:

April — Athanasius (295–373)

  1. *On the Incarnation
  2. Secondary resources:
    • Peter Leithart, Athanasius (Baker Academic, 2011). 222 pages.
    • See the relevant sections in the introductory and companion guides above.

May — Hilary of Poitiers (310–367)

  1. *On the Trinity
  2. Secondary resources:
    • See the relevant sections in the introductory and companion guides above.

June — Basil of Caesarea (330–379)

  1. *On the Holy Spirit
  2. **On Christian Doctrine and Practice
  3. Sermons on the Psalms
  4. Sermons on Creation
  5. Secondary resources:

July — Gregory of Nyssa (335–395)

  1. *Catechetical Discourse.
  2. **On the Soul and the Resurrection.
  3. Secondary resources:
    • See the relevant sections in the introductory and companion guides above.

August — Gregory of Nazianzus (329–390)

  1. *Five Theological Orations (Orations 27–31)
  2. **Festal Orations
  3. Secondary resources:
    • John McGuckin, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (SVS Press, 2011). 436 pages.
    • See the relevant sections in the introductory and companion guides above.

September — Jerome (347–420)

  1. *Selected Letters
  2. Secondary resources:

October — John Chrysostom (347–407)

  1. *Paschal Homily
  2. *On the Priesthood
  3. **On Wealth and Poverty
    1. Paperback: Popular Patristics Series. 140 pages. $16.
  4. Homilies on the Gospel of St. John
  5. Secondary resources:

November — Augustine (354–430)

  1. *On Christian Teaching
  2. **Confessions
  3. On the Trinity
  4. The City of God (especially Book 19)
  5. Secondary resources:

December — Cyril of Alexandria (376–444)

  1. *On the Unity of Christ
  2. Secondary resources:
Johnathan Arnold
Johnathan Arnold
Johnathan Arnold is President and Founder of Holy Joys. He serves as a preaching and teaching pastor in Newport, PA, where he lives with his wife Alexandra and son Adam. You can connect with him on Twitter @jsarnold7.