One of our foremost aims in this podcast was to pique the interest of listeners to read the church fathers. As Augustine tells us in his “Confessions” that he heard a child singing in a garden, so we encourage you, “take and read!”
There are countless other important early Christian figures and documents that are important for understanding the development of the Nicene Creed and the significance of its theology; by no means is this list exhaustive. However, here are most of the texts we draw upon in Season 1 of Passages to tell the backstory of the Nicene Creed.
Reading early Christian literature might seem intimidating; sometimes these texts are indeed challenging, not least because early Christians lived and died in very different times and places from our own. So, having informed guides can be a tremendous help.
If you have never read anything at all from an ancient Christian, it might be helpful to start with Robert Louis Wilken’s “The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God,” which is a very accessible and enjoyable overview of early Christian devotion and spirituality, and will introduce you to key early Christian figures. Afterwards, take up “On the Incarnation” by Athanasius of Alexandria, and especiallythe SVS Press editionwith a foreword by C.S. Lewis on reading ancient books, or Augustine’s “Confessions.” Afterwards, the other secondary sources below will provide a helpful, birds-eye-view of the landscape of early Christian history, so that you are then prepared to embark upon an adventure, travailing over the hills and valleys of these ancient texts.
If there is a specific edition we recommend that is not easily able to be acquired via the Bookshop list or that is not available on Bookshop, we have included a link below where you can buy the book. If there is no link, the book can be bought in the Mere O book store on Bookshop.
Lynn Cohick and Amy Brock Hughes, Christian Women in the Patristic World: Their Influence, Authority, and Legacy in the Second through Fifth Centuries
Stephen Bagby, Sin in Origen’s Commentary on Romans
Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything
Scott R. Swain, The Trinity: An Introduction
Often, older translations of these and many other ancient Christian texts can be found for free in several places online. But we especially appreciatethe “Popular Patristics” seriespublished by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, which are affordable, readable, and tremendously enjoyable translations of both classic texts and texts that had never been translated into English before.
Augustine, Confessions (there are many wonderful translations of the Confessions;Sheed’sis elegant and high English;Ruden’sis fresh and unique;Hammondfollows Augustine’s Latin very closely; butPine-Coffinis maybe the most beautiful for those seeking a contemplative, slow, meditative meandering through Augustine’s prayers).
Joshua Heavin received his PhD at the University of Aberdeen (Trinity College Bristol), is an adjunct professor at Houston Baptist University and the King’s College NYC, and is a postulant in the Anglican Diocese of the South (ACNA).