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History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325.
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§ 1. Literature on the Ante-Nicene Age


I. Sources

1. The writings of the Apostolic Fathers, the Apologists, and all the ecclesiastical authors of the 2nd and 3rd, and to some extent of the 4th and 5th centuries; particularly Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Jerome, Epiphanius, and Theodoret.

2. The writings of the numerous heretics, mostly extant only in fragments.

3. The works of the pagan opponents of Christianity, as Celsus, Lucian, Porphyry, Julian the Apostate.

4. The occasional notices of Christianity, in the contemporary classical authors, Tacitus, Suetonius, the younger Pliny, Dion Cassius.


II. Collections of Sources, (besides those included in the comprehensive Patristic Libraries):

Gebhardt, Harnack, and Zahn: Patrum Apostolicorum Opera. Lips., 1876; second ed. 1878 sqq.

Fr. Xav. Funk (R.C.): Opera Patrum Apost. Tübing., 1878, 1881, 1887, 2 vols. The last edition includes the Didache.

I. C. Th. Otto: Corpus Apologetarum Christianorum saeculi secundi. Jenae, 1841 sqq., in 9 vols.; 2nd ed. 1847–1861; 3rd ed. 1876 sqq. ("plurimum aucta et emendata").

Roberts And Donaldson: Ante-Nicene Christian Library. Edinburgh (T.& T. Clark), 1868–’72, 25 volumes. American edition, chronologically arranged and enlarged by Bishop A. C. Coxe, D. D., with a valuable Bibliographical Synopsis by E. C. Richardson. New York (Christian Literature Company), 1885–’87, 9 large vols.


The fragments of the earliest Christian writers, whose works are lost, may be found collected in Grabe: Spicilegium Patrum ut et Haereticorum Saeculi I. II. et III. (Oxon. 1700; new ed. Oxf. 1714, 3 vols.); in Routh: Reliquiae Sacrae, sive auctorum fere jam perditorum secundi, tertiique saeculi fragmenta quae supersunt (Oxon. 1814 sqq. 4 vols.; 2nd ed. enlarged, 5 vols. Oxf. 1846–48); and in Dom. I. B. Pitra (O. S. B., a French Cardinal since 1863): Spicilegium Solesmense, complectens sanctorum patrum scriptorumque eccles. anecdota hactenus opera, selecta e Graecis, Orientialibus et Latinis codicibus (Paris, 1852–’60, 5 vols.). Comp. also Bunsen: Christianity and Mankind, etc. Lond. 1854, vols. V., VI. and VII., which contain the Analecta Ante-Nicaena (reliquicae literariae, canonicae, liturgicae).

The haereseological writings of Epiphanius, Philastrius, Pseudo-Tertullian, etc. are collected in Franc. Oehler: Corpus haereseologicum. Berol. 1856–61, 3 vols. They belong more to the next period.

The Jewish and Heathen Testimonies are collected by N. Lardner, 1764, new ed. by Kippis, Lond. 1838.


III. Histories.

1. Ancient Historians.

Hegesippus (a Jewish Christian of the middle of the second century): Ὑπομνήματα τῶν ἐκκλησιαστικῶν πράξεων (quoted under the title πέντε ὑπομνήματα and πέντε συγγράμματα). These ecclesiastical Memorials are only preserved in fragments (on the martyrdom of James of Jerusalem, the rise of heresies, etc.) in Eusebius H. Eccl., collected by Grabe (Spicileg. II. 203–214), Routh (Reliqu. Sacrae, vol. I. 209–219), and Hilgenfeld ("Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theol." 1876, pp. 179 sqq.). See art. of Weizsäcker in Herzog, 2nd ed., V. 695; and of Milligan in Smith & Wace, II. 875. The work was still extant in the 16th century, and may be discovered yet; see Hilgenfeld’s "Zeitschrift" for 1880, p. 127. It is strongly Jewish-Christian, yet not Ebionite, but Catholic.

*Eusebius (bishop of Caesarea in Palestine since 315, died 340, "the father of Church History," "the Christian Herodotus," confidential friend, adviser, and eulogist of Constantine the Great): Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ ἱστορία, from the incarnation to the defeat and death of Licinius 324. Chief edd. by Stephens, Paris 1544 (ed. princeps); Valesius (with the other Greek church historians), Par. 1659; Reading, Cambr. 1720; Zimmermann, Francof. 1822; Burton, Oxon. 1838 and 1845 (2 vols.); Schwegler, Tüb. 1852; Lämmer, Scaphus. 1862 (important for the text); F. A. Heinichen, Lips. 1827, second ed. improved 1868–’70, 3 vols. (the most complete and useful edition of all the Scripta Historica of Eus.); G. Dindorf, Lips., 1871. Several versions(German, French, and English); one by Hanmer (Cambridge; 1683, etc.); another by C. F. Crusé (an Am. Episc., London, 1842, Phil., 1860, included in Bagster’s edition of the Greek Eccles. Historians, London, 1847, and in Bohn’s Eccles. Library); the best with commentary by A. C. McGiffert (to be published by "The Christian Lit. Comp.," New York, 1890).

The other historical writings of Eusebius, including his Chronicle, his Life of Constantine, and his Martyrs of Palestine, are found in Heinichen’s ed., and also in the ed. of his Opera omnia, by Migne, "Patrol. Graeca," Par. 1857, 5 vols. Best ed. of his Chronicle, by Alfred Schöne, Berlin, 1866 and 1875, 2 vols.

Whatever may be said of the defects of Eusebius as an historical critic and writer, his learning and industry are unquestionable, and his Church History and Chronicle will always remain an invaluable collection of information not attainable in any other ancient author. The sarcastic contempt of Gibbon and charge of willful suppression of truth are not justified, except against his laudatory over-estimate of Constantine, whose splendid services to the church blinded his vision. For a just estimate of Eusebius see the exhaustive article of Bishop Lightfoot in Smith & Wace, II. 308–348.


2. Modern Historians.

William Cave, (died 1713): Primitive Christianity. Lond. 4th ed. 1682, in 3 parts. The same: Lives of the most eminent Fathers of the Church that flourished in the first four centuries, 1677–’83, 2 vols.; revised by ed. H. Carey, Oxford, 1840, in 3 vols. Comp. also Cave’s Scriptorum ecclesiasticorum historia literaria, a Christo nato usque ad saeculum XIV; best ed. Oxford 1740–’43, 2 vols. fol.

*J. L. Mosheim: Commentarii de rebus Christianis ante Constantinum M. Helmst. 1753. The same in English by Vidal, 1813 sqq., 3 vols., and by Murdock, New Haven, 1852, 2 vols.

*Edward Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. London, 1776–’88, 6 vols.; best edd. by Milman, with his own, Guizot’s and Wenck’s notes, and by William Smith, including the notes of Milman, etc. Reprinted, London, 1872, 8 vols., New York, Harpers, 1880, in 6 vols. In Chs. 15 and 16, and throughout his great work, Gibbon dwells on the outside, and on the defects rather than the virtues of ecclesiastical Christianity, without entering into the heart of spiritual Christianity which continued beating through all ages; but for fullness and general accuracy of information and artistic representation his work is still unsurpassed.

H. G. Tzschirner: Der Fall des Heidenthums. Leipz. 1829.

Edw. Burton: Lectures upon the Ecclesiastical History of the first three Centuries. Oxf. 1833, in 3 parts (in 1 vol. 1845). He made also collections of the ante-Nicene testimonies to the Divinity of Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Henry H. Milman: The History of Christianity from the Birth of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire. Lond. 1840. 3 vols.; 2nd ed. 1866. Comp. also the first book of his History of Latin Christianity, 2d ed. London and New York, 1860, in 8 vols.

John Kaye (Bishop of Lincoln, d. 1853). Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries, illustrated from the writinqs of Tertullian. Lond. 1845. Comp. also his books on Justin Martyr, Clement of Alex., and the Council of Nicaea (1853).

F. D. Maurice: Lectures on the Eccles. Hist. of the First and Second Cent. Cambr. 1854.

*A. Ritschl: Die Entstehung der alt-katholischen Kirche. Bonn, 1850; 2nd ed. 1857. The second edition is partly reconstructed and more positive.

*E. de Pressensé (French Protestant): Histoire de trois premiers siècles de l’église chrétienne. Par. 1858 sqq. The same in German trans. by E. Fabarius. Leipz. 1862–’63, 4 vols. English transl. by Annie Harwood Holmden, under the title: The Early Years of Christianity. A Comprehensive History of the First Three Centuries of the Christian Church, 4 vols. Vol. I. The Apost. Age; vol. II. Martyrs and Apologists; vol. III. Heresy and Christian Doctrine; vol. IV. Christian Life and Practice. London (Hodder & Stoughton), 1870 sqq., cheaper ed., 1879. Revised edition of the original, Paris, 1887 sqq.

W. D. Killen (Presbyterian): The Ancient Church traced for the first three centuries. Edinb. and New York, 1859. New ed. N. Y., 1883.

Ambrose Manahan (R. Cath.): Triumph of the Catholic Church in the Early Ages. New York, 1859.

Alvan Lamson (Unitarian): The Church of the First Three Centuries, with special reference to the doctrine of the Trinity; illustrating its late origin and gradual formation. Boston, 1860.

Milo Mahan (Episcopalian): A Church History of the First Three centuries. N. York, 1860. Second ed., 1878 (enlarged).

J. J. Blunt: History of the Christian Church during the first three centuries. London, 1861.

Jos. Schwane (R.C.): Dogmengeschichte der vornicänischen Zeit. Münster, 1862.

Th. W. Mossman: History of the Cath. Church of J. Christ from the death of John to the middle of the second century. Lond. 1873.

*Ernest Renan: L’ Histoire des origines du Christianisme. Paris, 1863–1882, 7 vols. The last two vols., I’ église Chrétienne, 1879, and Marc Aurèle, 1882, belong to this period. Learned, critical, and brilliant, but thoroughly secular, and skeptical.

*Gerhard Uhlhorn: Der Kampf des Christenthums mit dem Heidenthum. 3d improved ed. Stuttgart, 1879. English transl. by Profs. Egbert C. Smyth and C. J. H. Ropes: The Conflict of Christianity, etc. N. York, 1879. An admirable translation of a graphic and inspiring, account of the heroic conflict of Christianity with heathen Rome.

*Theod. Keim, (d. 1879): Rom und das Christenthum. Ed. from the author’s MSS. by H. Ziegler. Berlin, 1881. (667 pages).

Chr. Wordsworth (Bishop of Lincoln): A Church History to the Council of Nicea, a.d. 325. Lond. and N. York, 1881. Anglo-Catholic.

A. Plummer: The Church of the Early Fathers, London, 1887.

Of the general works on Church History, those of Baronius, Tillemont (R.C.), Schröckh, Gieseler, Neander, and Baur. (the third revised ed. of vol. 1st, Tüb. 1853, pp. 175–527; the same also transl. into English) should be noticed throughout on this period; but all these books are partly superseded by more recent discoveries and discussions of special points, which will be noticed in the respective sections.


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