Henry Scott Holland on The Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers

This little book provides an introduction to the bakground and writings of the Apostolic Fathers: Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas’ Shepherd and the Epistle of Barnabas.

My thanks to Book Aid for making a copy of public domain title available for digitisation.

Henry Scott Holland [1847-1918], The Apostolic Fathers. The Fathers for English Readers. London: SPCK, 188?. Hbk. pp.223. [Click here to visit the download page for this book]


  • Preface to the Series
  1. The Apostolic Age
  2. St Clement of Rome
  3. St Ignatius
  4. St. Polycarp
  5. The Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas

B.J. Kidd’s Church History to AD 461

Beresford James Kidd [1863-1948], A History of the Church to A.D. 461, 3 Vols

Beresford James Kidd’s classic 3-volume treatment of early church history to AD 461 entered the public domain this year. My thanks to Book Aid for making a copy available for digitisation.

Beresford James Kidd [1863-1948], A History of the Church to A.D. 461, 3 Vols. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1922. Hbk. pp.558+471+448. [Click to visit the download page]

Chapter 1. The Roman Empire

On the day of Pentecost, when the Church set out on its mission to the world, the field that lay immediately before it was the Roman Empire.

§ 1. In extent the Empire consisted, towards the end of the reign of its founder Augustus, 31 B.C-A.D. 14, of eight and twenty provinces. By the incorporation of dependencies such as Mauritania, 40, and Arabia, 105, by subdivision and re-arrangement, the twenty-eight had become ninety-nine at the opening of the reign of Diocletian, 284-305, its second founder. During the interval, no permanent acquisition of territory took place, save that Britain was annexed between the reigns of Claudius, 41-54, and Domitian, 81-96. The southern part of our island was occupied after the campaigns, 48-7, of Aulus Plautius. Then Julius Agricola, 78-85, extended the province to the line of forts which he built between the Forth and the Clyde. He would have brought Ireland also within the sway of Rome, had he not been refused an extra legion. But his conquests were abandoned, and the frontier withdrawn to the Wall of Hadrian, 122, from the Tyne to the Solway…

Volume 1, p.1.

Athanasius, His Life and Work by Henry Robert Reynolds

Athanasius of AlexandriaThis is a brief study of the life and work of Athanasius of Alexandria [296-8 – 373]. My thanks to Book Aid for making available a copy of this public domain title for digitisation.

Henry Robert Reynolds [1825-1896], Athanasius. His Life and Life-Work. The Church History Series V. London: The Religious Tract Society, 1889. Hbk. pp.192. [Click to visit the download page]

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  1. The Scene and Conditions of a Vital Controversy
    1. Alexandria
    2. The Church at Alexandria and the Civil Power
    3. The Conditions of Theological Controversy
  2. The Early Days of Athanasius
  3. Arius and the Council of Nicaea
  4. The Meletian Schism
  5. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria
  6. Athanasius in Exile at Trèves (Trier), and What Happened in the Interim;
    1. The Dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Resurrection
    2. The Eusebian Synod at Constantinople, and the Condemnation of Marcellus
    3. The Death of Arius
    4. The Death of Constantine the Great
  7. The Return of Athanasius from the First Exile and the Commencement of the Second Exile
  8. The Council of Sardica and the Second Return of Athanasius
  9. The Resumption of the Arian Persecution, and the Third Exile
  10. The Ministry of the Wilderness
    1. The Fate of the Church in Egypt
    2. The Writings of Athanasius during the Exile
    3. The Four Discourses against the Arians
    4. The Divisions in the Arian Party
    5. The Divinity of the Holy Spirit
  11. The Accession of Julian, and the Third Restoration of Athanasius to his See
  12. The Acts of Athanasius on his Reappearance after his Six Years of Exile
  13. The Cause and Issue of the Fourth Exile of Athanasius
  14. The Fifth Exile and Closing Years of Athanasius
  15. The Character of Athanasius
  • Index


The life-story of Athanasius has often been told. During half a century the biography of this man becomes a history of Christianity and of the Church, when both were alike face to face with a Pagan reaction. The extant writings of Athanasius—wbich have been edited and also translated in convenient form for the English reader—cast a bright light upon contemporary religious politics and parties, proclaim the dawn of rational exegesis, and are especially valuable from the eagerness with which the author dealt with ideas and things rather than with terms or phrases. The ecclesiastical histories of Eusebius, Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret and Evagrius, as well as the fragments of the Arian Philostorgius, when these are checked by Athanasius himself, warmed by the studied panegyrics of Gregory of Nazianzus, criticised in the light of the epistles of Julian and the pages of the Roman historians or Greek sophists, furnish abundant material for the student of the fourth century…

Life and Times of Ambrose of Milan by Robinson Thornton

Ambrose of MilanRobinson Thornton (1824-1906) was Archdeacon of Middlesex and later a Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral (see Wikipedia article). This book is a brief biogaphy of Ambrose of Milan, followed by an assessment of his impact on church history.

My thanks to Book Aid for making a copy of this public domain title available for digitisation.

Robinson Thornton [1824-1906], St. Ambrose. his Life, Times and Teaching. The Fathers for English Readers. London: SPCK, 1879. Hbk. pp.215. [Click to visit the download page]

Table of Contents

  1. Birth and Infancy (A.D. 340-341)
  2. Youth and Manhood (A.D. 341-374)
  3. The Episcopate (A.D. 374)
  4. Difficulties and Dangers (A.D. 374)
  5. Death of Valentinian (A.D. 374-375)
  6. Theodosius (A.D. 378-380)
  7. Synods of Aquileia and Rome (A.D. 380-383)
  8. Augustine (A.D. 383-385)
  9. Conflict with the Arians (A.D. 385-386)
  10. Church-Building – Maximus and Justina (A.D. 386-387)
  11. Theodosius (A.D. 388)
  12. The Sin and Penance of Theodosius (A.D. 389-390)
  13. Eugenius (A.D. 392-393)
  14. Victory and Death (A.D. 394-395)
  15. The End of a Great Life (A.D. 395-397)
  16. Ambrose a Poet and Musician
  17. St. Ambrose as a Theologian
  18. St. Ambrose as an Interpreter of Scripture
  19. Ambrose as a Pastor

Birth and Infancy

It is the year A.D. 340. Twenty-eight years have passed since Constantine the Great saw, as he declared, in vision the symbol of the Crucified, and was bidden to hope for victory, temporal and eternal, through Him alone; twenty-eight years since the tyrant Maxentius lost his power and his life at the Milvian bridge; twenty-seven since Constantine’s second edict, dated not from Rome, but from Milan, released the Christians from the fear of persecution, and launched the Cross on an unimpeded career of conquest. It is fifteen years since the memorable time when the three hundred and eighteen at Nicaea affirmed, in the happy word Consubstantial, the truth of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son, very God of very God, made very man; four since the unhappy heresiarch Arius perished at Constantinople by a strange and sudden death; seven since the busy brain of another enemy of the faith, not heretic, but scoffer, Iamblichus, of Chalcis in Syria…

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….

Origen and Greek Patristic Theology by William Fairweather

William Fairweather [1856-1942], Origen and Greek Patristic TheologyWilliam Fairweather’s work on Origen provides a general introduction to the great Alexandrian theologian, his theology and his legacy. My thanks to Book Aid for providing a copy of this book for digitisation. This title is in the public domain.

William Fairweather [1856-1942], Origen and Greek Patristic Theology. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1901. Hbk. pp.268. [Click to visit the download page for this title]


  • Prefactory Note

  1. Precursors of Origen
  2. Life and Character of Origen
  3. Origen’s View of Holy Scriptures
  4. Religious Philosophy of Origen
  5. The Writings of Origen
  6. Origen’s Theology: God and His Self-Manifestation
  7. Origen’s Theology: Creation and Fall
  8. Origen’s Theology: Redemption and Restoration
  9. Successors of Origen
  10. Historical Services, General Characteristics, and Distinctive Doctrinal Conplexion of the Greek Theology
  11. Reaction Against Origen
  12. Subsequent History of Origenism

Chapter 1: Precursors of Origen

Christianity had introduced a new idea of God, which superseded not only the deities of classical mythology, but also the Hebraic Deism which regarded God merely as the God of the Jews, and as virtually separate from the world. The Greek patristic theology was the result of the application of the specific methods of Greek philosophy to the new material supplied by the Christian history, with the view of constructing a reasoned theory of God and the universe. As such it was ” the last characteristic creation of the Greek genius.” In the New Testament God is represented from a religious point of view; but for the Greek mind, which conceived God metaphysically as abstract Being, a scientific theology was indispensable. The facts of Christianity had to be so interpreted as to yield a conception of God which would at once conserve His unity, and yet admit of His organic connection with man as Lord and Saviour….

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