In 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.
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….
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.
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]
Andrew 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.
The Historic Faith in the Second and Third Centuries
The Theological Faith of the Fourth Century
Our Nicene Creed
The Athanasian Creed I
The Athanasian Creed II
The Apostles’ Cred in the Fourth Century
Our Apostles’ Creed
The “Te Deum”
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]
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.
Burnett 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.
The Evolution of Church Order in the New Testament
The Church of Syria
The Church of Rome
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]
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.
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 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.
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
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
5. The Roman Church
The Great Divisions
1. Judaic Christianity
6. The Catholic Church
The Theology of the Church and Its Opponents
1. Sources of Doctrine
B. The Rule of Faith
2. Faith in the One God
3. The Holy Trinity
The Organization of the Church
1. The Christian Ministry
Social Life and Ceremonies of the Church
1. Christian Life
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
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
Discipline and Life of the Church
1. Law and Society
3. Celibacy of the Clergy
Ecclesiastical Ceremonies and Art
I. Rites and Ceremonies
1. Catechumenate and Baptism
2. The Holy Eucharist
3. The Hour-Offices
5. Care of the Sick and the Dead
II. The Cycle of Festivals
1. The Week
2. Easter and Lent
3. The Saints and their Festivals
5. Holy Places
III. Architecture and Art
1. Structure of Churches
2. Pictures in Churches
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
Countries reached by Christianity in the First Three Centunes
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!
The following book is now available for free download in PDF:
Henry Melvill Gwatkin [1844-1916], The Arian Controversy. London: Longman, Green & Co., 1889. Hbk. pp.176.
Chapter I: The Beginnings of Arianism
Arianism is extinct only in the sense that it has long ceased to furnish party names. It sprang from permanent tendencies of human nature, and raised questions whose interest can never perish. As long as the Agnostic and the Evolutionist are with us, the old battlefields of Athanasius will not be left to silence. Moreover, no writer more directly joins the new world of Teutonic Christianity with the old of Greek and Roman heathenism. Arianism began its career partly, as a theory of Christianity, partly as an Eastern reaction of philosophy against a gospel of the Son of God. Through sixty years of ups and downs and stormy controversy it fought, and not without success, for the dominion of the world. When it was at last rejected by the Empire, it fell back upon its converts among the Northern nations, and renewed the contest as a Western reaction of Teutonic pride against a Roman gospel. The struggle went on for full three hundred years in all, and on a scale of vastness never limited to the West, whereas Arianism ranged at one time or another through the whole of Christendom. Nor was the battle merely for the wording of antiquated creeds or for the outworks of the faith, but for the very life of revelation. If the Reformation decided the supremacy of revelation over church authority, it was the contest with Arianism which cleared the way, by settling for ages the deeper and still more momentous question, which is once more coming to the surface as the gravest doubt of our time, whether a revelation is possible at all.