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Translation

THE JEWISH WAR
War, Volume 1
War, Volume 2
War, Volume 3
War, Volume 4
War, Volume 5
War, Volume 6
War, Volume 7

THE ANTIQUITIES
Ant. Jud., Bk 1
Ant. Jud., Bk 2
Ant. Jud., Bk 3
Ant. Jud., Bk 4
Ant. Jud., Bk 5
Ant. Jud., Bk 6
Ant. Jud., Bk 7
Ant. Jud., Bk 8
Ant. Jud., Bk 9
Ant. Jud., Bk 10
Ant. Jud., Bk 11
Ant. Jud., Bk 12
Ant. Jud., Bk 13
Ant. Jud., Bk 14
Ant. Jud., Bk 15
Ant. Jud., Bk 16
Ant. Jud., Bk 17
Ant. Jud., Bk 18
Ant. Jud., Bk 19
Ant. Jud., Bk 20

OTHER WRITINGS
Apion, Bk 1
Apion, Bk 2
Autobiog.


Apocrypha
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Introduction

Gospel of--
-- Nicodemus
-- Peter
-- Ps-Matthew
-- James (Protevangelium)
-- Thomas (Infancy)
-- Thomas (Gnostic)
-- Joseph of Arimathea
-- Joseph_Carpenter
Pilate's Letter
Pilate's End

Apocalypse of --
-- Ezra
-- Moses
-- Paul
-- Pseudo-John
-- Moses
-- Enoch

Various
Clementine Homilies
Clementine Letters
Clementine Recognitions
Dormition of Mary
Book of Jubilees
Life of Adam and Eve
Odes of Solomon
Pistis Sophia
Secrets of Enoch
Tests_12_Patriarchs
Veronica's Veil
Vision of Paul
Vision of Shadrach

Acts of
Andrew
Andrew & Matthias
Andrew & Peter
Barnabas
Bartholomew
John
Matthew
Paul & Perpetua
Paul & Thecla
Peter & Paul
Andrew and Peter
Barnabas
Philip
Pilate
Thaddaeus
Thomas in India
Lectionary
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All of 2016

SUNDAYS
Advent
Christmastide
Lenten Sundays
Sundays of Easter
Ordinary Time (A)
Sundays, 1-34, Year A
Ord.Time (Year B)
Sundays, 1-34, Year B
Ord.Time (Year C)
Sundays, 1-34, Year C

WEEKDAYS
Advent
Lent
Eastertide
Ordinary Time
Weeks 1-11 (Year 1)
Weeks 1-11 (Year 2)
Wks 12-22 (Year 1)
Wks 12-22 (Year 2)
Wks 23-34 (Year 1)
Wks 23-34 (Year 2)

OTHER
Solemnities
Funerals
Weddings


Patristic
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Clement of Rome

Ignatius of Antioch

Polycarp of Smyrna

Barnabas,(Epistle of)

Papias of Hierapolis

Justin, Martyr

The DidachŽ

Irenaeus of Lyons

Hermas (Pastor of)

Tatian of Syria

Theophilus of Antioch

Diognetus (letter)

Athenagoras of Alex.

Clement of Alexandria

Tertullian of Carthage

Origen of Alexandria

Early Patristics Overview

Early Patristic Writings
(2nd and 3rd-century Church Fathers)

An Overview

The material for this web-section is drawn from the Patristic portion of my library CD ("Inspirations") and includes the main early Christian texts from Clement of Rome (writing just before 100 A.D.) to Hippolytus of Rome (170 -236 A.D.), along with an introduction to each of the authors. It is an updated edition of material from the late-19th-century Edinburgh Series of the Church Fathers, with the verbal forms updated and the introductions to the individual authors substantially re-written, with an eye to standard volumes on Patrology, by Johannes Quasten and J. N. D. Kelly. Our authors, and their dates, are:

Why we still read the Fathers

Because they are the post-Biblical literature of the early Church - they speak of a faith that was deeply cherished, and staunchly defended, and for which men and women of the first three Christian centuries were willing to give their lives. Often too, they tell their story with style and subtlety which was so admired in later centuries that generations of manuscript copyists laboured to guard this heritage in the monastic libraries of Europe.

If the fierce persecutions endured by the Church in its first few centuries were successfully weathered and overcome it was due in large part to its committed, enthusiastic and gifted teachers and writers, who alongside their preaching poured out this wealth of literature, defending and defining their Christian faith. In so doing, they produced a reservoir of wisdom for the believers of every age.

The Fathers interpreted the events of their time through the lens of Scripture, and cite the Bible with such ease that it was clearly their Book of Life. They modelled that attachment to Lectio Divina [divinely-oriented, meditative reading] to which tradition calls all seriously-minded Christians. With great energy, they bring to bear their wide knowledge of the Greek and Roman philosophical and literary tradition on questions of faith and morals. In this regard, Tertullian and Augustine in the West rank with the great Eastern Fathers, like Origen and John Chrysostom. While their views on particular questions [such as those relating to natural phenomena, as well as ethics, family, the equality of the sexes, ethnology and the historicity of Biblical events] may not always commend themselves to our critical assent today, it is very stimulating to follow their reasoning, and share with them in wrestling with current issues in the light of divine revelation.

Their intellectual energy is impressive, as they bring to bear their wide knowledge of the Greek and Roman philosophical and literary tradition on questions of faith and morals. In this regard, Tertullian and Augustine in the West rank with the great Eastern Fathers, like Origen and John Chrysostom. While their views on particular questions (such as those relating to natural phenomena, as well as ethics, family, the equality of the sexes, ethnology and the historicity of Biblical events) may not always commend themselves to our critical assent today, it is very stimulating to follow their reasoning, and share with them in wrestling with current issues in the light of divine revelation.

The lives of individual Fathers often provide a fascinating glimpse of journeys, both internal and geographical. Augustine's Confessions tell a great story of the inner journey of self-awareness, as he struggled between the conflicting aspirations and opinions that tugged at his mind and heart. The actual travels of some of the Fathers also spanned the Mediterranean world; whether it be Irenaeus of Smyrna, who died a martyr in Lyons, France, or John Cassian from near Marseilles, who spent much of his adult life among the monks of Egypt, learning their spiritual tradition which he brought back to his native France. The great Jerome too, spans the East-West divide; born in the Balkans, he studied and was baptised in Rome, then moved to the imperial city of Trier for a time, before finally settling into a studious and ascetical existence in Palestine, right alongside the birthplace of Jesus. His exchange of letters with Augustine makes for very interesting reading, both in the points on which they agree and in those (such as some aspects of biblical interpretation) in which they do not. The Fathers helped each other as well as us, on life's journey.

In one controversial area, the opinions of the Fathers regularly prompt us to some embarrassment, namely in their treatment of sexuality. Generally committed to an ascetical lifestyle, they evaluate sex as a natural appetite to be treated with the greatest circumspection, and morally exercised only within marriage, and for the purpose of procreation. Without using the word, Clement of Alexandria, for example, puts the case against contraception very strongly: "What things are according to nature, it is very wrong to treat with contempt, sowing (the seed) in unnatural fashion." (Paidagogus, Book 2, Ch. 10). He is also sternly opposed to the use of soft beds, as we can see in his section on "not sleeping on downy feathers." And the rigorist Tertullian is often too scathing for our taste, for example in his attacks on feminine frivolities of dress, adornment or behaviour (On the apparel of women, ch. 2, where he quaintly traces female ornamentation back to influence of the fallen angels!)

It would be quite mistaken, however, to portray the Fathers as obsessed with sexual questions. Using the search facility that comes with the Inspirations CD, you can also find many occurrences of their other interests, in terms like "friend", "kindness", "patience", "understanding" and "marriage", as well as to "prayer", "eucharist", "priest" and "sacrifice." In the Didache for instance, there is a lovely sample of the kind of prayer that the early Christians used at their eucharistic celebrations, showing the predominance of thanksgiving. Indeed, many of the impulses operative in the renewal of liturgical practice will be found embedded in the Fathers.

In happy contrast to the sometimes shocking and misogynistic attitudes often taken by Tertullian, and even by Jerome, we are pleasantly surprised to find Gregory of Nyssa consulting with the sister of St. Basil, for greater insight into the soul and the after-life. He refers to her as the Teacher, and evidently sees her as full of wisdom and good counsel. Also, there is a fine commendation of marriage by St. Ambrose, in his treatise on virginity.

The primary and consistent witness of the Fathers is to the surpassing divine Providence guiding the lives of all who trust in God; and the power to save, extended to all through the Life, Teaching and Sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ, God incarnate in our world. This - and their sharing in his sacraments, above all in the Eucharist - was the source of joy, energy and perseverance for that "great cloud of witnesses" who wrote their convictions into the texts here assembled. Their asceticism with regard to food, drink, ambition, and the general satisfaction of the human appetites may be often daunting to the modern reader; but often too, it is offset by moments of warm humanity, and a real acceptance of the incarnate condition, the values of friendship and our need of earthly comforts - in moderation! And notwithstanding their occasional misogyny and other problematical areas, the Fathers do provide a wealth of genuinely inspirational material which can only be appreciated by actually going in there and reading them ourselves. Enjoy them!

The Graphics

Searching through the cornucopia of Google Images, I found graphics to depict many of the writers in this Section. While these are just artists' impressions, some of the icons and frescos will have been based on oral tradition. In cases where I could find no image of the writer, I put a symbolic graphic alongside his name.

Patrick Rogers
Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy
Dublin 6


Clement of Rome
Ignatius of Antioch
Polycarp
Barnabas,(Epistle)

Papias
Justin
The DidachŽ
Irenaeus
Hippolytus

Hermas
Tatian
Theophilus
Diognetus

Athenagoras
Clement_Alex
Tertullian
Origen


Apocryphal Writings