Nicene Creed – a Manual for Trainee Ministers

John James Lias [1834-1923], The Nicene Creed. A Manual for the use of Candidates for Holy OrdersJ.J. Lias [1834-1923] set out to present candidates for the ministry with a systematic exposition of the Nicene Creed. My thanks to Book Aid for providing a copy of this book for digitisation. This title is in the public domain.

John James Lias [1834-1923], The Nicene Creed. A Manual for the use of Candidates for Holy Orders. London: Swan Sonnenschein / London: The Macmillan Co., 1897. Hbk. pp.439. [Click to visit the download page]

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  1. The Position of Faith in the Christian Scheme
  2. The Grounds of our Belief in God
  3. The Essential Nature of God
  4. The Revelation of God in the Person of Jesus Christ
  5. The Redemptive Work of Jesus Christ
  6. I Believe in the Holy Ghost, &c.
  7. The Catholic Church
  8. The Resurrection of the Dead, and the Life of the World to come
  • Index


The importance of Creeds in the system of the Universal Church depends upon two considerations. The first is the position of faith in the economy of salvation; the second is the necessity, in an organised society, that each member of that society should give his adhesion to the truths the society was established to maintain and propagate. The first will be discussed in the following chapter. The second may very reasonably be taken-for granted. But it is desirable, before proceeding further, that a brief historical account should be given of the actual place of Creeds in the system of the Church.

The Creed was originally, there can be little doubt, an expansion of the Baptismal formula. Each person, on his or her entrance into the Christian Church, was expected to make a profession of faith in the Existence and Nature of the Being with Whom he or she entered into union, and in certain results of that Being’s working in the corporate society and in the individual spirit….

Introduction to Patristic Study by Henry Barclay Swete

Henry Barclay Swete [1835-1917], Patristic StudyIn his foreword H.B. Swete notes that he wrote this book to encourage younger clergy to read the church fathers for themselves and not to rely on second hand information. This brief introduction will be still of value to students of the early church more than a century after it was first published. This title is in the public domain.

Henry Barclay Swete [1835-1917], Patristic Study. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1902. Hbk. pp.194. [Click to visit the download page]


  1. Introductory
  2. Fathers of the First Two Centuries
  3. Fathers of the Third Century
  4. Post-Nicene Fathers (Greek and Eastern)
  5. Post-Nicene Fathers (Latin)
  6. Courses and Methods of Patristic Study
  7. Help to Patristic Study

Chapter 1: Introductory

The literary remains of the Apostolic age in the providence of God have become the common property of Christendom. Admitted into the canon of Holy Scripture, translated into the language of every civilised people, circulated by great societies established for that end, the Gospels and Epistles, the Acts and the Apocalypse are in the hands of all Christians who can read their mother tongue. A widely different fate has overtaken the post-Apostolic literature of the Ancient Church. If the names of some of the more eminent ‘Fathers’ are familiar to all educated men, few are attracted to the study of their writings. A grotesque misrepresentation associates the Fathers with dulness and ignorance. It is assumed that the writings which record the history, the life, and the thought of the Christian Church during the centuries which followed the death of St. John are destitute of literary merit or spiritual profit….

Church’s Task Under the Roman Empire by Charles Bigg


This is a series of four lectures on the Church’s task of evangelising the Roman Empire. Charles Bigg [1840-1908] was Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Oxford. This title is in the public domain.

Charles Bigg [1840-1908], The Church’s Task under the Roman Empire. Four Lectures with Preface, Notes and an Excursus. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1905. Hbk. pp.136. [Click to visit the main download page]


  • Preface
  1. Education Under the Empire
  2. Religion Under the Empire
  3. Religion Under the Empire (Continued)
  4. Moral and Social Condition of the Empire
  • Excursus on Lecture IV


These four Lectures, delivered in the Oxford Schools in the Michaelmas Term of 1904, are an attempt to sketch in broad outlines the nature of the task which lay before the Church when she set out in obedience to the divine call to evangelize the Graeco-Roman world, and the degree in which she was enabled to fulfil that task within the compass of the first five centuries.

It is far too large a subject for so small a volume. On very many points I have only been able to indicate the quarters where information is to be found, and the problems that court further investigation. When I have ventured to give my own opinion it has been done, not without consideration, but briefly and rather too much ex cathedra. The reader must allow for all this. I shall be quite content if the Lectures are found to promote in any degree what is in fact their main object. [Click to visit the main download page]

History of the Creeds by Andrew Burn

Andrew Ewbank Burn [1864-1927], An Introduction to the Creeds and to the Te DeumAndrew Ewbank Burns 1899 Introduction to the Creeds appears to be a comprehensive treatment of the subject. Originally prepared as  course book for students at Cambridge University, the author hoped that his work would also be useful to a wider readership.

Andrew Ewbank Burn [1864-1927], An Introduction to the Creeds and to the Te Deum. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1899. Hbk. pp.323.[Click to download complete book in PDF]

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  1. Introductory
  2. “The Faith” in Apostolic Times
  3. The Historic Faith in the Second and Third Centuries
  4. The Theological Faith of the Fourth Century
  5. Our Nicene Creed
  6. The Athanasian Creed I
  7. The Athanasian Creed II
  8. The Apostles’ Cred in the Fourth Century
  9. Our Apostles’ Creed
  10. Unsolved Problems
  11. The “Te Deum”
  12. Of the Use of the Creeds


The following Introduction to the Creeds· and to the Early History of the Te Deum has been designed, in the first instance, for the use of students reading for the Cambridge Theological Tripos. I have edited all the Creed-forms set for that examination, with the exception of three lengthy formularies, which belong rather to a history of doctrine than to my present subject. These are-the letter of Cyril to Nestorius, the letter of Leo to Flavian, and the Definition of the Council of Chalcedon.

At the same time, I hope that the book may be useful to a wider circle of readers-to clergy and candidates for Holy Orders. The subject is of supreme importance to all teachers of Church doctrine; and the only excuse for adding to the number of books which already deal with it, is the desire to enable others to gather the first-fruits of many writers and of recent researches in England and abroad. [Continue reading]

Backhouse & Tylor’s Early Church History to the Time of Constantine

Edward Backhouse [1808-1879] & Charles Tylor [1816-1902], Early Church History to the Death of Constantine, 3rd edn. Early Church History to the Death of Constantine was Edward Backhouse’s final work and was completed posthumously by Charles Tylor. Backhouse intended to write church history from the perspective of The Society of Friends (Quakers).

His desire, perhaps not fully allowed to himself, was to find out with what early early teachers stigmatised as heretics he himself could in any way sympathise; what protests against priestly assumptions and ritualistic corruptions had been made in the early ages of the Church.

Thomas Hodgkin [1831-1913], Biographical Preface, p.xiii.

Edward Backhouse [1808-1879] & Charles Tylor [1816-1902], Early Church History to the Death of Constantine, 3rd edn. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. Ltd., 1892. Hbk. pp.333. [Click to download the complete book in PDF]

The book contains a number of photographs and colour plates. This title is in the pubic domain.


Biographical Preface

Part I to A.D. 200

  1. Promulgation of the Gospel – The New Society- Picture of Heathenism
  2. Nero’s Persecution – Destruction of Jerusalem – Jewish-Christian Church
  3. Domitian and Nerva – The Apostle John – Epistle of Clement of Rome and Letter to Diognetus
  4. Trajan and Pliny – martyrdom of Ignatius – His Epistles
  5. Hadrian – Insurrection of the Jews – Marcus Aurelius – Perseuction and Calumnies
  6. Justin Martyr
  7. The Octavius of Miniucius Felix – Martyrdom of Polycarp
  8. Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne
  9. Ireneus – Gnosticism – The Montanists – Attitude of the Church Towards Dissenters
  10. Worship in the Early Church – The Agape of Lord’s Supper
  11. Baptism – Infant Baptism
  12. Prayer – Almsgiving – Miraculous and Spiritual Gifts – Superstitious Practices
  13. Government of the Church – Maintenance of Ministers – Clergy and Laity – Church Action and Discipline – Places of Worship
  14. Holy Days and Festivals – Marriage – Asceticism – Burial
  15. The Catacombs
  16. Spread of the Gospel – Life ofth Early Christians, its Lights and Shadows
  17. Pagan Animosity and Christian Loyalty – The Philosophers assail the Church
  18. Christians and the Military Service – Slavery – Oaths
  • Appendix to Part I.

Part II – From A.D. 200 to the Death of Constantine, A.D. 337

  1. The Martyrs of Africa – Alexander Severus favours the Christians
  2. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria
  3. Hippolytus – The Churches have rest – The Decian Persecution – Cyprian – The Lapsed – Gallus and the Pestilence
  4. Origen
  5. Persecution undeer Valerian – Cyprian’s Martyrdom – His Life and Teaching – Novatian
  6. The Emperoprs Gallienus and Aurelian – Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, and Gregory Thaumaturgus
  7. The Diocletian Persecution
  8. The Diocletian Persecution (continued – Constantine
  9. The Diocletian Martyrs
  10. Constantine’s Legislation – He Assumes Power over the Church – The Donatists – The Christians Slaughter one another
  11. Manicheism and Sabellianism – The Arian Controversy – The Council of Nicaea
  12. Intolerant Edits of Constantine – He espouses the Arian Cause – Athanasius – Baptism and death of the Emperor – Lactantius
  13. Rapid Growth of Ritualism – Manner of Worship in the Fourth Century – the Eucharist – Baptism
  14. Power of the Bishops – Pretensions of Rome – Paul of Samosata – Maintenance of the Clergy – Tithes – Clerical Dress
  15. The New Age of Art and Splendour – Consecration of Churches – Pictures in Churches – Embroidered Garments – Lighted Tapers – The Catacombs
  16. Prayers for the Dead – Invocation of Saints – Worship of Relics – Fasts and Festivals – Education – Church Buildings
  17. “Fordbidding to Marry” – and “Commanding to abstain from Meats” – The HErmists – Paul – Anthony – Monks and Nuns
  18. The Gospel continues to spread – Armenia – Abyssinia – Britain – Assimilation of the Church to the World – The Magistracy – War – Conclusion
  • Index


B.H. Streeter on the Origins of Christian Ministry

B.H. Streeter, The Primitive Church Studied with Special Reference to the Origins of the Christian MinistryBurnett Hillman Streeter [1874-1937] is probably best remembered for his work on the Synoptic problem (available here). In this study of the the early church’s ministry he argues that the evidence portrays a diversity in church structures. My thanks to Book Aid’s London bookshop for providing me with a copy of this book to digitise. This title is in the public domain.

B.H. Streeter, The Primitive Church Studied with Special Reference to the Origins of the Christian Ministry. The Hewitt Lectures, 1928. London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd., 1930. Hbk. pp.312. [Click to download complete book in PDF]



  1. History and Legend
  2. The Apostles and the Churches
  3. The Evolution of Church Order in the New Testament
  4. The Church of Syria
  5. The Church of Rome
  6. Alexandria nd the Patriarchates


A. Pionius’ Life of Polycarp
B. The Letters of Ignatius and Polycarp
C. Origin and date of the “Didache”
D. Irenaeus and the Early Popes
E. A Gnostic Hymn

Index of Names
Index of Subjects


When I first began to read Theology more than thirty years ago, I found Church History, so dull-especially after reading Greek and Roman history for ‘Greats’ – that I dropped the subject, and offered for examination Textual Criticism instead. I discovered later what the matter was; it was not that’ Church’ history was dull, but that what was then presented to me as such was not really history. Whether the present volume is dull, or even history, it will be for others to pronounce. I only know that I have enjoyed the writing of it – the hue and cry after new discovery, the following up of hitherto unnoticed clues, the delimitation of conflicting tendencies, envisaging the interaction between personality and circumstance in testing situations, noting the intermittent ironies emergent in all things human. [Continue reading]

Justin Martyr – A Dialogue With Trypho

Arthur Lukyn Williams [1853-1943], translator, Justin Martyr. The Dialogue with Trypho
Justin Martyr from Andre Thevet
Only three works of the Second Century Christian apologist Justin Martyr have survived, two apologies and his Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew. In the Dialogue Justin sets out to convince Trypho (probably a fictional character) that Christianity represents the new law for all people. The work was widely used and influenced later Christian writers. I am therefore very pleased to able to make available A. Lukyn Williams translation of this classic work, which is in the public domain.

Arthur Lukyn Williams [1853-1943], translator, Justin Martyr. The Dialogue with Trypho. London: SPCK, 1930. Hbk. pp.301. [Click to download complete book in PDF]




  1. Justin Martyr, what is known to him?
  2. The Authenticity of the Dialogue
  3. Earlier Efforts to Present Chrsit to the Jews
  4. Trypho the Jew
  5. Justin’s Knowledge of Post-Biblical Judaism
  6. The Contents of the Dialogue
  7. The Practical Value of the Dialogue
  8. Bibliography

Translation and Notes

Indices to Introduction and Notes

  1. General
  2. Holy Scripture and other Early Literature

You will find further resources on Justin Marty on this page.


The Dialogue touches so many points of interest that it is impossible to consider them all in a popular work like the present. I have therefore restricted myself almost entirely (though not quite) to the primary object of Justin’s treatise, the relation of Christianity to Judaism, in particular to the Judaism of post-Biblical times, endeavouring to illustrate this from Jewish sources.

In such illustrations I have not used the Apocrypha or the Pseudepigraphic writings, partly because these are now readily accessible to the English reader in the Oxford Corpus, and partly because Justin himself appears to have neglected all such books. The Jews with whom he disputed were evidently Palestinians, accustomed to the Hebrew Canon only, and to the arguments of those Jews who carried on the traditions of the Pharisees. It is therefore to the writings of these that we must look for illustrations. Their books indeed, with the exception of one or two portions, are not earlier than, or even contemporary with, Justin, especially in the form in which they have come down to us. [Continue reading]

William Ramsay’s The Church in the Roman Empire

William M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170William M. Ramsay’s book, The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170 is now available for free download in PDF. The map facing p.472 of the Lycus Valley in particularly useful and is reproduced at various resolutions.

This work will be of help to anyone studying Roman persecutions of the church before AD 170 and the background of Paul’s letter the Galatians and of the book of Acts.

William M. Ramsay [1851-1939], The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170, 8th edn. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1904. Hbk. pp.510. Download in PDF [8.9MB]

Map of the Lycus Valley from William M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170

Download at 300dpi

Download at 600dpi [right-click and “save as” if using Windows]

Table of Contents

Part I. – Earliest Stage: St. Paul In Asia Minor

Chapter I – General

  1. Plan of the Work
  2. The Travel-Document
  3. The Churches of Galatia
  4. Social Condition of Asia Minor, A. D. 50-60

Chapter II – Localities of The First Journey

  1. Pamphylia
  2. Pisidia and Ayo Paulo
  3. Pisidian Antioch
  4. Route From Antioch to Iconium
  5. Iconium
  6. Lystra
  7. Derbe
  8. Character of Lycaonia in the First Century

Chapter Ill – The First Journey as a Narrative of Travel

Chapter IV – The Second Journey

Chapter V – The Third Journey

Chapter VI – The Epistle To The Galatians

  1. Arguments Founded on the Epistle
  2. St. Paul’s Feelings Towards the Galatian Churches
  3. Arguments for the North-Gaiatian Theory
  4. Analogy of I Peter
  5. Change in the Meaning of the Name Galatia

Chapter VII – St. Paul at Ephesus

  1. Demetrius the Neopoios
  2. Acts XIX.23-41
  3. Demetrius the Neopoios and Demetrius the Silversmith
  4. Action of the Priests of Artemis
  5. Shrines of Artemis
  6. Attitude of the Ephesian Officials Towards Paul
  7. Fate of the Silver Shrines
  8. Great Artemis
  9. Text of Acts XIX.23-41
  10. Historical Character of the Narrative Acts XIX.23-41

Chapter VIII – The Original Authority for St. Paul’s Journeys: Value and Text

  1. Rapid Spread of Christianity in Asia Minor
  2. Distinction of Authorship
  3. Text of Codex. Bezae: Asia Minor
  4. Text of Codex Bezae: Europe
  5. Codex Bezae Founded on a Catholic Recension
  6. Postscript: Spitta’s Apostelgeschichte

Part II – A.D. 64-170 – Being Lectures At Mansfield College, Oxford, May & June, 1892

Chapter IX – Subject and Method

  1. Aspect of History Here Treated
  2. Connexion Between Church History and the Life of the Period
  3. The Authorities: Date
  4. The Authorities: Trustworthiness
  5. Results of Separating Church History from Imperial History
  6. The Point of View

Chapter X – Pliny’s Report and Trajan’s Rescript

  1. Preliminary Considerations
  2. The Religious Question in Bithynia-Pontus
  3. First and Second Stage of the Trials
  4. Pliny’s Attitude Towards the Christians
  5. The Case was Administrative, Not Legal
  6. Pliny’s Questions and Trajan’s Reply
  7. The Christians Were Not Punished as a Sodalitas
  8. Procedure
  9. Additional Details
  10. Recapitulation
  11. Topography

Chapter XI – The Action of Nero Towards the Christians

  1. Tacitus Annals XV.44
  2. The Evidence of Suetonius
  3. First Stage in Nero’s Action
  4. Second Stage: Charge of hostility to Society
  5. Crime Which the Christians Confessed
  6. Character, Duration, and Extent of the Neronian Persecution
  7. Principle of Nero’s Action
  8. Evidence of Christian Documents

Chapter XII – The Flavian Policy Towards the Church

  1. Tacitus’ Conception of The Flavian Policy
  2. Confirmation of Nero’s Policy by Vespasian
  3. The Persecution of Domitian
  4. Bias of Dion Cassius
  5. Difference of Policy Towards Jews and Christians
  6. The Executions of A.D. 95 An Incident of the General Policy
  7. The Evidence of Suetonius About the Executions Of A.D. 95-271
  8. The Flavian Action Was Political in Character

Chapter XIII – Christian Authorities for the Flavian Period

  1. The First Epistle of Peter
  2. Later Date Assigned to I Peter
  3. Official Action Implied in I Peter
  4. The Evidence of the Apocalypse
  5. The First Epistle of John
  6. Hebrews and Barnabas
  7. The Epistle of Clement
  8. The Letters of Ignatius

Chapter XIV – The Policy of Hadrian, Pius, and Marcus

  1. Hadrian
  2. Pius
  3. Marcus Aurelius
  4. The Apologists

Chapter XV – Cause and Extent of Persecution

  1. Popular Hatred of the Christians
  2. Real Cause of State Persecution
  3. Organisation of the Church

Chapter XVI – The Acta of Paul and Thekla

  1. The Acta in Their Extant Form
  2. Queen Tryphaena
  3. Localities·of the Tale of Thekla
  4. The Trials at Iconium
  5. The Trial of Thekla at Antioch
  6. Punishment and Escape of Thekla
  7. The Original Tale of Thekla
  8. Revision of the Tale of Thekla, A. D. 130-50
  9. The Iconian Legend of Thekla

Chapter XVII – The Church From I20 To 170 A.D.

Chapter XVIII – Glycerius the Deacon

Chapter XIX – The Miracle at Khonai

Addenda to the Fourth Edition


Samuel Cheetham’s Church History

A History of the Christian Church by Samuel Cheetham
An audio version is available from Librevox

The complete text of Samuel Cheetham’s A History of the Christian Church During the First Six Centuries is available for free download in PDF. The endpiece map showing the Countries reached by Christianity in the First Three Centuries is also available a separate download (but is also included in the main PDF).

The folks at LibriVox have made available an audio version of the book, which should also prove very helpful.

Samuel Cheetham [3 March 1827 – 9 July 1908], A History of the Christian Church

Table of Contents

From the Origin of Christianity to the Edict of Milan (A.D. 313)

The Preparation of the World
1. Paganism
2. Judaism

The Apostolic Church
1. The Lord’s Ministry and the Church in Jerusalem
2. St Paul and the Gentile Church
3. James the Just
4. St Peter
5. St John
6. The remaining Apostles
7. Organization and Worship of the Church
8. Sects and Heresies

The Early Struggles of the Church
1. Jewish and Roman Persecution
2. The Intellectual Attack
3. The Christian Defence

Growth and Characteristics of the Church
1. Early Spread of the Gospel
2. Asiatic Churches
3. Alexandrian School
4. Africa
5. The Roman Church

The Great Divisions
1. Judaic Christianity
2. Marcion
3. Montanism
4. Gnosticism
5. Manichreism
6. The Catholic Church

The Theology of the Church and Its Opponents
1. Sources of Doctrine
A. Scripture
B. The Rule of Faith
2. Faith in the One God
3. The Holy Trinity
4. Chiliasm

The Organization of the Church
1. The Christian Ministry
2. Synods

Social Life and Ceremonies of the Church
1. Christian Life
2. Asceticism
3. Hermits
4. Discipline
5. Ceremonies
6 . Sacred Seasons
7. Architectural and other Art


From the Edict of Milan (A.D. 313) to the Accession of Pope Gregory the Great (A.D. 590)

The Church and the Empire
1. The Imperial Church
2. The Hierarchy
3. Patriarchs
4. Rome
5. Councils
6. The Fall of Paganism

Theology and Theologians
1. Literary Character of the Age
2. School of Antioch
3. School of Edessa
4. Alexandrian School
5. Latin Theology

Controversies on the Faith
I. Standards of Doctrine
1. Holy Scripture
2. The Church and its Tradition
3. Rules of Faith
II. The Holy Trinity
The Arian Controversy
Ill. The Incarnate Son
1. Apollinarianism
2. Nestorianism
3. Eutychianism
4. Monophysitism
IV. Origenism
V. Priscillianism
VI. Pelagianism

Discipline and Life of the Church
1. Law and Society
2. Donatism
3. Celibacy of the Clergy
4. Monachism

Ecclesiastical Ceremonies and Art
I. Rites and Ceremonies
1. Catechumenate and Baptism
2. The Holy Eucharist
3. The Hour-Offices
4. Matrimony
5. Care of the Sick and the Dead
6. Ordination
II. The Cycle of Festivals
1. The Week
2. Easter and Lent
3. The Saints and their Festivals
4. Calendars
5. Holy Places
III. Architecture and Art
1. Structure of Churches
2. Pictures in Churches
3. Sculpture

Growth of the Church
I. The Church in the East
II. The Conversion of the Teutons
1. The Goths
2. The Franks
III. The British Islands
1. The British Church
2. St Patrick and the Irish Church
3. St Columba and Iona

Ecclesiastical Dioceses
Countries reached by Christianity in the First Three Centunes

14 Years of Theology on the Web!

14 Years of Theology on the Web
14 Years of Theology on the Web!

Theology on the Web was launched 14 years ago this month. It is exciting to note that this anniversary coincides with three other major milestones in the development of the ministry.

  • There are now over 25,000 free-to-download theological articles hosted on Theology on the Web.
  • 2.3 terabytes of data was downloaded worldwide over the last 12 months. If, like me, you have no idea what that means, it is the data equivalent of downloading 2,300 sets of the Encyclopaedia Britannica!
  • Theology on the Web has now moved to its own Virtual Webserver with greatly increasing speed and capacity as the visitor numbers climb to around 2 million in 2015.

To mark these events, I have prepared a Press Release which I am sending to Christian News services in the UK and posting online. Please feel free to download and share this document as widely as possible.

Finally, thank you all for making this possible by your ongoing support and encouragement!