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 especially the SVS Press edition with 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.
A note on how this list works: We have created a list on Bookshop.org that includes all of these books as part of Mere O’s online book store. If you buy using this link, Mere O receives a commission from Bookshop.
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.
- John Behr, the Way to Nicaea
- John Behr, the Nicene Faith
- Lewis Ayres, Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology
- Khaled Anatolios, Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine
- Khaled Anatolios, Deification through the Cross: An Eastern Christian Theology of Salvation
- Robert Louis Wilken, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God
- Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity
- Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)
- 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 appreciate the “Popular Patristics” series published 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.
- Athanasius, On the Incarnation
- Athanasius and Didymus the Blind, Works on the Spirit
- Augustine, Confessions (there are many wonderful translations of the Confessions; Sheed’s is elegant and high English; Ruden’s is fresh and unique; Hammond follows Augustine’s Latin very closely; but Pine-Coffin is maybe the most beautiful for those seeking a contemplative, slow, meditative meandering through Augustine’s prayers).
- Augustine, On the Trinity
- Augustine, The City of God
- Basil of Caesarea, Against Eunomius
- Basil of Caesarea, On the Holy Spirit
- Basil of Caesarea, On Social Justice
- Basil of Caesarea, On Christian Doctrine and Practice
- Basil of Caesarea, On Christian Ethics
- Chrysostom, On Wealth and Poverty
- Cyril of Alexandria, On the Unity of Christ
- Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ, The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius
- Gregory of Nazianzus, Festal Orations
- Gregory of Nazianzus, Poems on Scripture
- Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Man: The Theological Poetry of St. Gregory of Nazianzus
- Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses
- Gregory of Nyssa, Catechetical Discourse
- Gregory of Nyssa, On the Soul and Resurrection
- Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Saint Macrina
- Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius
- Hippolytus, On the Apostolic Tradition
- Irenaeus, Against Heresies
- Irenaeus of Lyons, On the Apostolic Preaching
- Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew
- Maximus the Confessor, On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ
- Origen of Alexandria, On First Principles (especially John Behr’s new OUP translation)
- Origen of Alexandria, Commentary on Romans
- Tertullian, Against Marcion
- Tertullian, Against All Heresies