The Church Fathers

Here we have a gathering of writings from the ancient era in the church.  They are prolific but vitally important if we are to maintain our effort to teach the very same as what the apostles taught.  The challenges the church face during this era are very similar to the challenges we face today.  T F Torrance says there are no new heresies, just old heresies dressed up in new clothes.  The writings from the church shows what the heresies look like and how we can recognise them even today.  What I enjoy about this era is the enormous integrity people like T F Torrance and Karl Barth in the endeavour to bring this ancient truth to the modern world.

Why read these texts?  What we find in textual criticism is the closer we can get to the event in history, in this case the Incarnation, the more credibility the documents have.  As we move through history, the less credibility the documents are in regard to the true meaning of what happened in the life and work of Jesus Christ.

The Apostolic and the Church Fathers enable us to see how they read the Scriptures and what the Scriptures meant to them.  When we read Irenaeus, he often discusses the work attributed to John, what we know as the gospel of John.  Irenaeus’ mentor was Polycarp whose mentor was the Apostle John.  The depth of knowledge of Scripture is nothing short of breathtaking to say the least.  In their battle with the heretics who continually corrupted the texts, it was their inward and intuitive understanding along with a lifetime of studying the text that they were able to detect fraudulent copies that were being distributed through their communities.   The heretics would try and change the text to suit their teachings as a means of corrupting the flock.  People like Irenaeus, Athanasius, Hilary of Poitiers, Cyril of Jerusalem and Cyril of Alexandria where able to highlight the important fundamental truths that maintained the integrity of the teaching that was taught by the Apostles themselves.

The common thread is: No one knows God.  If no one knows God then it is only God who can make Himself known.  If we are to have any idea to the ways and works of God, then He is the One who must reveal Himself and teach us.  This He has done as the Man Jesus Christ.

As we move away from this event, there is the tendency for humanity to start setting the conditions upon which God is to be known.  As a result, theories and ideas that are not theological start to creep in resulting in a watering down of the truth.  We end up with a mythology rather than theology.

What the Fathers can teach us is a particular type of conversation that helps us to keep our focus on the teaching of Christ as understood by the very Apostles themselves.  In doing so, we take on a yoke that is easy and a burden so light.

These writings are considered public domain and can be freely used by anyone.  I had to adhere to strict conditions when publishing them on this site.  This has meant hours and hours of re-ordering the text to make it more readable.  I hope you enjoy these writings as much as I have.

All of these works are sourced from Christian Classics Ethereal Library or the Internet Archive


Alexander of Alexandria (PDF on page 666)

 

 


Athanasius (PDF)

Athanasius was born around 296-98AD and died in 373AD.  In around about 313AD he was taken into the household of the Bishop of Alexandria where  Athanasius devoted himself to the Christian teaching.  He was very well educated in the local academy, or what we might understand as university, where he became very skilled in grammar, logic and rhetoric.  His early life was impacted by the great persecutions and his association with the hermit, Antony.  It is to Antony that Athanasius owes his strength of character and his commitment to remain faithful to the teaching of the Apostles.

By the time the Arian controversy broke out in 319AD, Athanasius had already become well established as a distinguished author with two papers to his name.  The first was Against the Heathen and the second was On the Incarnation of the Word.  By the time the Nicene Council was called in 325AD, Bishop Alexander had already recognised the formidable capability of Athanasius for his knowledge in both the teaching of the Apostles and ability to provide positively to the discussion in defence of the Apostolic tradition.  Not only was he applauded by his contemporaries but gained intense hostility by his opponents.

Athanasius was highly acclaimed for the part he played in the outcome of the Nicene Council and possibly made considerable contribution in the formulation of the Creed.  Five months after the council, the Bishop Alexander died and Athanasius was chosen to succeed him.

There are some who have raised concerns regarding the character of Athanasius.  If we take his opponent’s constant accusations seriously, then there may cause for grave concern. Theodoret describes the opponents bringing Athanasius to the attention of the Emperor Constantine regarding the many accusations as having evil intentions.  He also makes it clear that the accusations were unfounded on every occasion where the charges against him were largely trumped up.  Eusebius of Caesarea was a close companion of the Emperor and also a supporter of Arius. The opponents of Athanasius took this opportunity to influence Constantine to have him deposed or worse.  They never succeeded in totally silencing him. Athanasius remained steadfast in his opposition to the Arians.

Yet if we read a quote from Gregory of Nazianzen in his Oration 22.9 we have a different picture of Athanasius’ character:

“to keep on a level with common-place views yet also to soar high above the more aspiring,’ as accessible to all, slow to anger, quick in sympathy, pleasant in conversation, and still more pleasant in temper, effective alike in discourse and in action, assiduous in devotions, helpful to Christians of every class and age, a theologian with the speculative, a comforter of the afflicted, a staff to the aged, a guide of the young.”

What Athanasius was renowned for was his dependance on the authority of Scripture and the Rule of Faith.  His steadfastness to this led the way for the church to overcome Arianism and remain true and faithful to the apostolic tradition.  He has such a focus on the Person and work of Jesus Christ that he would allow no speculative ideas to cloud his vision.  It is fundamental to Athanasius that the Incarnation of God Himself come to us as man, suffered and was crucified under Pontius Pilate and rose again remain the central tenet of the Christian faith.

While Arianism was trying to water down the gospel declaring there was a time when Jesus Christ was not, Athanasius defended the article in the Creed, Homoousios to Patri (of the same being with the Father) solidifying the divinity of Christ as well as upholding His humanity.  This has enormous implications for providing a gospel of the good will of God towards all human beings that is often hard for the modern mainline church to digest.  Why is this the case?  What we find if we are to take seriously the writings of Athanasius, is the modern church have taken sides with Arius and have severely undermined the Godness of God in Jesus Christ.

The mission of Perichoresis Australia in camaraderie with Perichoresis USA is to bring to light the teaching of the ancient church.  If this is how the early church understood the gospel, then we need to seriously question the grounds for what we believe today.  If Athanasius of the 4th Century is in the same camp as Irenaeus of the mid 2nd Century, then we have evidence of a way of thinking that can be enormously beneficial for us today.  These two enormous communities are linked so closely to that of the Apostles we can hear their echoes in these writings as the voices of the Apostles still ringing in their ears.

Each of the lectures/letters can be viewed internally or can be downloaded as a PDF.

If you would prefer, you can download the works of Athanasius from the CCEL website by clicking here

The Theology of St Athanasius

Translated by Philip Schaff

Against the Heathen (Contra Gentes) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

On the Incarnation of the Word (De Incarnatione Verbi Dei) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Deposition of Arius (Deposito Arii) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Council of Nicaea: Letter of Eusebius of Caesarea to the people of his Diocese (Epistola Eusebii) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

De Synodis (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Statement of Faith (Expositio Fidei) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

On Luke 10 (In Illud Omnia) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Circular Letter (Encyclical Epistle) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Ad Antiochenos (Latin/Greek text)

Ad Afros Epistola Synodica (Latin/Greek text)

Ad Epictetus (Latin/Greek text)

Defence against the Arians (Apologia Contra Arianos)

Chapter I  (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Chapter II (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Chapter III (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Chapter IV  (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Chapter V  (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Chapter VI (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

De Decretis or Defence of the Nicene Definition (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

On the Opinion of Dionysius (De Sententia Dionysii) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

The Life of Antony (Vita S. Antoni) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

To the Bishops of Egypt (Ad Episcopos AEgypti Et Libyae Epistola Encyclica) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Defence Before Consantius (Apologia Ad Constantium) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Defence of his Flight (Apologia de Fuga) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

History of the Arians (Historia Arianorum) (PDF) (Latin/Greek text)

Against the Arians (Orotiones Contra Arianos)

Discourse 1 (PDF) (Latin/Greek texts)

Discourse II (PDF) (Latin/Greek texts)

Discourse III (PDF) (Latin/Greek texts)

Discourse IV (PDF) (Latin/Greek texts)

To Serapion on the Holy Spirit

Epistle 1 (PDF) (Latin/Greek texts)

Epistle 2 (PDF) (Latin/Greek texts)

Epistle 3 (PDF) (Latin/Greek texts)

Epistle 4 (PDF) (Latin/Greek texts)

Against Apollinaris

Introduction to two books Against Apollinaris

Against Apollinaris (Book 1 Latin/Greek texts; Book 2 Latin/Greek text)

Select Letters

Epistle 1 (Latin only)

Epistle 2 (Latin only)

Epistle 4 (Latin only)

Epistle 5 (Latin only)

Epistle 6 (Latin only)

Epistle 10 (Latin only)

Epistle 11 (Latin only)

Epistle 12 (Latin only)

Epistle 14 (Latin only)

Epistle 39 (N/A)

Epistle 48 (Latin/Greek)

Epistle 49 (Latin/Greek)

Epistle 51 (Latin only)

Epistle 55 (Latin/Greek)

Epistle 56 (Latin/Greek)

Epistle 60 (Latin/Greek)

Epistle 61 (Latin/Greek)

 

 

 


Athenagoras (PDF on page 275)

On the Resurrection of the Dead (Latin/Greek text)

Plea for the Christians (Latin/Greek)

 


Basil the Great (PDF)

 


Cyril of Alexandria

 Cyril of Alexandria (375AD – 444AD) was considered one of the doctors of the church fathers and was officially given title as doctor of the church in 1882. He was chiefly known for the one who battled against the heresies of Nestorius. Nestorius believed Jesus had two natures, one divine and one human. He tried to keep the two apart. He did not want the imperfections of humanity to taint the being of God, particularly the idea of the divine experiencing pain and suffering in the Person of Jesus Christ. Nestorius had a particular concern with Mary given the title, Mother of God as this implied the eclipsing of Jesus’ humanity by his divine nature.

Cyril was educated in Alexandria in theology and the classics. He was ordained by his uncle Theophilus and eventually succeeded him upon his death as the Patriarch of Alexandria in 403AD. As a result of his continuing battle against the Nestorian heresy, much of Cyril’s writings were a response to the errors in his teaching. He also wrote against Pelagianism. This heresy believes that the human nature is essentially good and the human will is free. There are elements of this heresy in modern evangelicalism with its emphasis on free will in some limited atonement doctrines. Many of us have had personal experiences of such doctrine. This is why reading the work of Cyril is so very interesting.

When we read with the premise of union into the relationship between Jesus Christ the Son and the Father, the Son and His humanity, the Son and our humanity and creation and the Trinity, the whole structure of the way we see scripture begins to change. The way Cyril exegetes the Gospel according to John, is somewhat different to the way we understand it today, especially in the epilogue, John 1:1-21. Though sin is never taken lightly or minimised in any way, we find his understanding of sin has no dualistic foundation, i.e. sin defined as separation from God. We see such beauty in how the gospel was understood in such tenuous times as those early days.

Each of the lectures/letters can be viewed internally or can be downloaded as a PDF.

Translated by Philip Schaff

An overview of the work of St Cyril of Alexandria

Exegetical Commentary of the Gospel according to John

Book 1  (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 2  (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 3  (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 4  (PDF) (Latin/Greek)
Book 5  (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 6  (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 7  (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 8  (PDF) (Latin/Greek)
Book 9  (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 10 (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 11 (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Book 12 (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

 Commentary on the Gospel According to Luke (Greek/Latin)

Sermons 1 – 11 (PDF) Sermons 12 – 25 (PDF) Sermons 27 – 38 (PDF) Sermons 39 – 56 (PDF)
Sermons 57 – 80 (PDF) Sermons 81 – 98 (PDF) Sermons 99 – 123 (PDF) Sermons 124 – 156 (PDF)

 

 

Five Tomes against Nestorius

Part 1 (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Part 2 (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Part 3 (PDF) (Latin/Greek)
Part 4 (PDF) (Latin/Greek) Part 5 (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

That Christ is One

Click Here (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Scholia on the Incarnation of the Only Begotten

Click Here (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Cyril’s 12 Anathemas against Nestorius

Click Here

 

 


Cyril of Jerusalem (PDF includes Gregory Nazianzen)

Cyril of Jerusalem (313AD – 386AD) was appointed bishop of Jerusalem around the end of 350AD.  Very little is known about his life prior to his appointment.  However it is known that he was ordained in 335AD by Macarius of Jerusalem and was ordained as priest 8 years later by Bishop St Maximus.

He was deposed at least once during his appointment largely on political grounds rather than on questionable theology.  Though he is highly regarded today as one of the doctors of the church fathers, he was in a constant battle against those who were Arian or semi-arian.  There is some suggestion that it may have taken some time for him to accept the non-biblical term homoousios but voted in favour of it at the Council of Constantinople in 351AD.   By this time, it is believed he realised there was no better alternative to this word to describe the relationship of the Son to the Father.

Such was the hostility from the Arians that he was even summoned to appear before the emperor to explain himself.  He refused to appear.  On other occasions, he appealed to the emperor to intervene in disputes where his opponents refused to appear.  There was a lot of political gymnastics with frivolous trumped up charges were made to try and discredit Cyril.

Cyril was renown for his love and pastoral care in his writings expressing the love and forgiveness of God uncommon to this period.  He emphasised the love and kindness of God expressed in Jesus Christ as a means of helping those to turn from darkness to Light.  Though he was treated harshly by his opponents, very little is found in the way of harsh retaliation in return.

The following writings below us are lessons undertaken by Cyril in the basic principles of the Christian faith.  People had to show their worthiness to become part of the Christian community.  They had to partake in intensive teaching which could take several weeks leading up to Easter.  Once they had satisfactorily completed their education, the candidates would recite the Creed as well as undertake many other rites such as special prayers and exorcisms.  It can be likened to the modern version of the Alpha Course where it explains to those interested in Christianity what the fundamental teachings are all about.

Each of the lectures/letters can be viewed internally or can be downloaded as a PDF.

Translated by Philip Schaff

Prologue to the Catechetical Lectures of our Holy Father (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 1. To those who are to be Enlightened, delivered extempore at Jerusalem, as an Introductory Lecture to those who had come forward for Baptism. (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 2: On Repentance and Remission of Sins, and concerning the Adversary (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 3: On Baptism (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 4: On the Ten Points of Doctrine (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 5: Of Faith (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 6: On the Unity of God, On the Article, I believe in One God, Also Concerning Heresies (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 7: The Father (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 8: Almighty (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 9: On the Words, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of All Things Visible and Invisible. (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 10: On the Clause, and in One Lord Jesus Christ, with a Reading from the First Epistle to the Corinthians (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 11:On the Words, the Only-Begotten Son of God, Begotten of the Father Very God Before All Ages, by Whom All Things Were Made. (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 12: On the words Incarnate, and Made Man (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 13: On the words, Crucified and Buried (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 14: On the Words, And Rose Again from the Dead on the Third Day, and Ascended into the Heavens, and Sat on the Right Hand of the Father. (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 15: On the Clause, And Shall Come in Glory to Judge the Quick and the Dead; Of Whose Kingdom There Shall Be No End (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 16: On the Article, And in One Holy Ghost, the Comforter, Which Spake in the Prophets. (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 17: Continuation of the Discourse on the Holy Ghost. (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lecture 18: On the Words, And in One Holy Catholic Church, and in the Resurrection of the Flesh, and the Life Everlasting. (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Lectures 19-23: To the Newly Baptised. (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

 

 


Epiphanius of Salamis Panarion Vol 1 Panarion Vol 2-3

Select pieces from Against all Heresies

 


Gregory Nazianzen (PDF includes Cyril of Jerusalem)

Gregory Nazianzus was born in 329AD in Arianzus in the Cappadocian district not far from Nazianzus.  He studied in Caesarea in Palestine, then in Alexandria and finally in Athens.  It is believed, though not certain, as he was travelling from Alexandria to Athens by sea, they were hit by a terrible storm.  Gregory pleaded with God for his life and promising Him that he will devote the rest of his life to the Christian faith if he were to be spared.  In Athens, Gregory joined up with his friend Basil the Great whose friendship was to last the rest of their lives.

Gregory joined Basil in the monastic life.  Later on his father consecrated him an elder of the Church of Nazianzus.  St Basil, much to Gregory’s disdain, consecrated him Bishop of Sasima in the Archdiocese of Caesarea.

In the year 379AD Gregory went to the Church of Constantinople to assist them in their fight against the Arians.  With his experience in rhetoric and his knowledge of the Scriptures he was able to bring the church back to order and free them from the heresies.  He was elected archbishop of the city and held the chair at the Second Ecumenical Council that assembled in 381.  Thus he was a key figure in the enlargement of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed at this council.  When he first came to Constantinople, the Arians had taken over all the churches.  By the time he left some two years later, the Arians did not have one church in their control.  It was during this time he preaches the famous Triadica (In Theological Orations below).

Gregory delivered a speech before 150 bishops as well as the Emperor Theodosius the Great (The Last Farewell below) where during the speech he requested permission to return to his home.  He lived there to the end of his life and died in 391AD.

Translated by Philip Schaff

The Life of Gregory of Nazianzius

Oration 1 – On Easter and his reluctance (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 2 – In defense of his flight to Pontos, and his return, after his ordination to the Priesthood, with an exposition of the character of the priestly office. (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 3 – To those who had invited him, and not come to receive him (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 4 First invective against Julian the Emperor (Latin/Greek)

Oration 5 Second Invective against Julian the Emporer (Latin/Greek)

Oration 7 – Panegyric on his brother S. Caesarius (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 8 – On His Sister Gorgonia (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 12 – To his father when he entrusted him the care of the church (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 16 – On his father’s silence, because of the plague of Hail (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 18 – On the death of his father in the Presence of Basil (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 21 – On the Great Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Orations

Introduction to the Theological Orations

Theological Oration 27 A preliminary discourse against the Eunominans(1st Triadica) (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 28 The knowledge of God (2nd Triadica) (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 29 On the Son (3rd Triadica) (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 30 The Second concerning the Son (4th Triadica) (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration On the Holy Spirit (5th Triadica) (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 33 Against the Arians and concerning himself (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 34 On the arrival of the Egyptians (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 37 On the Words of the Gospel (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 38 On the Theophany (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 39 On the Holy Lights (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 40 On Holy Baptism (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 41 On Pentecost (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Theological Oration 42 The Last Farewell (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 43 Funeral Oration on the Great S. Basil, Bishop of Caeserea in Cappadocia (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Oration 45 The Second Oration on Easter (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Letters regarding Apollinarianism (PDF)

Epistle 101

Epistle 102

 

 


Gregory Nyssa (PDF)

Gregory of Nyssa was born in 335AD and was the elder brother of Basil the Great and a friend of Gregory of Nazianzus.  The three together were known as the Cappadocian Fathers.

In recent times, Gregory of Nyssa has been thought to be a universalist.  The concern here is that much of the views are read into his works. Many in the East and the West find it difficult to pin his work down without taking what he taught out of context.  Even the Arians would try and ‘cut and paste’ his work construct them into dogmas in such a way to support their views.  The risk of doing so today is evident by those who drift into the thinking of the pagans of Gregory’s day.    Gregory often sourced Origen’s work.  There is evidence to suggest the Arians were also  sourcing Origen.  Yet we have to take great care as not to jump to the conclusion of what might be a poor premise to begin with.  Much of Origen’s work was not as highly regarded in his day by his contemporaries.  In the doctrine of apokatastasis, the following should be considered.

For example, In, De Pauperibus Amandis, 2. p. 240, he says of the last judgment that God will give to each his due; repose eternal to those who have exercised pity and a holy life; but the eternal punishment of fire for the harsh and unmerciful: and addressing the rich who have made a bad use of their riches, he says, ‘Who will extinguish the flames ready to devour you and engulf you? Who will stop the gnawings of a worm that never dies?’ Cf. also Orat. 3, de Beatitudinibus, I.; contra Usuarios, II.

When tackling the heretics, Gregory, just like the other fathers did, often had to use their material and their sources in such a way as to show them the error of their thinking.  If we come to certain passages of his writings with pagan glasses then we are going to jump to the wrong conclusions i.e. universalism.  There maybe distinctions between God’s intention for humanity and whether or not God’s intention is actualised in all human being regardless should not be a foregone conclusion. There are continual pleas by Gregory to undertake a more virtuous path that leads to life with consequences for straying off the path.  At this stage, arguments tend to go round in circles.

Nevertheless, some of what Gregory says poses some concerns and he comes very close to the edge of the boundary of what constitutes sound Trinitarian theology.  Yet, we may have the problem of historical distance, culture and context that may hinder us from a sound understanding of what he is trying to say.  There are numerous cases where theologians jump to the wrong conclusions when assessing the work of the church fathers.  We have to take great care that we do not do the same here.

Of his work on the Trinity

Translated by Philip Schaff

The Dogmatic Treatise

Book I (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book II (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book III (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book IV (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book V (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book VI (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book VII (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book VIII (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book IX (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book X (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book XI (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book XII (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

On the Holy Spirit et al (PDF) ) (Latin/Greek)

On the Faith (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

 (On the Soul and Resurrection (Latin/Greek)

On the Making of Man (Latin/Greek)

The Great Catechism (Latin/Greek)

 

 


Hilary of Poitiers (PDF includes John of Damascus)

Hilary of Poitiers, (300AD – 367AD) is one of the more obscure fathers as he gets very little mention from the other fathers of this period.  He was primarily of the Western church but was very much in the framework of thought of the Alexandrian School.  Because he was so aligned to the Eastern school and did little to develop the theology of the West both sides were suspicious of him.  He was stuck between the two as his Latin tongue was not favoured in the East and his affiliation with the East was not favoured in the West.

in some ways Hilary was on his own.  He had very little resources or company to refine his thinking.  Yet, he endeavoured to approach the task of exploring the truth in a highly disciplined way that is so characteristic of the Eastern church.  He tried to reach the uneducated mind making some of his explanations appear as though they were insulting the intelligence of the reader.  As a result, his explanations might appear long winded and convoluted.  We have to take into account these criticisms are by those who were perhaps questioning his allegiances.

When Athanasius was condemned at the Council of Milan and was sent into exile, Hilary was one of those who refused to sanction the Emperor’s decision.  He played  a part in gathering support to have this decision overturned and gave a strong letter of protest to the Emperor. This resulted in him being sent into exile in 356AD.  During this time, he wrote his work On the Trinity.  He was exiled into an area that brought him within earshot of the Cappadocians.  There is much conjecture as to whether or not he was familiar with the work of Athanasius.  He was however distinctly anti-Arian and expressed similar language to that of the Nicene era.  Hilary tried to bring unity between the East and the West by making a clear distinction of  the Persons and the meaning of the relationship between the Father and the Son.  He never fully succeeded in bringing about an orthodox church and state.

Each of the lectures/letters can be viewed internally or can be downloaded as a PDF.

Translated by Philip Schaff

The Theology of St Hilary of Poitiers

On the Trinity de Trinitate (PDF) (Latin)

On the Faith of the Easterns (PDF) (Latin)

Hilary’s Commentary on Psalms

Psalm 1

Psalm 53/54

Psalm 131/130

 

 


Irenaeus of Lyons (PDF Includes the works of Justin Martyr & Polycarp)

Irenaeus of Lyons was born in 120AD and died in 202AD.  Irenaeus was a pupil of Polycarp and began as an elder at the See of Lyons with a fellow pupil Pothinus who was sent as an evangelist into this area of Gaul.  In 177Ad persecution broke out in Lyons and Irenaeus was sent to Rome with letters of protest regarding this situation.  When he arrived Irenaeus found the leaders of the church of Rome and colleagues from the school of Polycarp had fallen into heretical doctrines namely Montanism and Valentinianism.

During his time in Rome Pothinus was martyred and Irenaeus took over as the Bishop of Lyons.  By this time the persecution had ended.  However, gnosticism was taking hold in this region.  He described them as locusts coming in to devour the gospel.  With people ascending on his See with corruptions of the gospel, Irenaeus set about the momentous task of classifying in detail the core heretical belief systems of his day that were contrary to the gospel handed down by the apostles.  He could see the warnings of Paul and Peter coming to pass before his eyes wreaking havoc on the Christians in his area.

Three were two main concerns for Irenaeus.  Firstly, he wanted to show the distinct differences between Gnosticism and Christianity to the degree that the two could not be confused.  Secondly, in doing so, he wanted to make sure that erroneous teachings could not survive nor take hold within the Christian tradition.

Even to this day, the work Against the Heresies, is a valuable resource for understanding how the mind of the early Christian church were able to recognise the errors and tackle them effectively so as to maintain the integrity of the gospel.  The heresies we face today, with many of us at one time unknowingly entertaining them, have changed very little since those early years.  It is fascinating how the heresies are explained and met by sound biblical exegesis.  It is a valuable learning tool and foundation that was to preserve the gospel for centuries to come, even to this day.

I have it on good authority this is one of Baxter Kruger‘s favourite Apostolic writings.

Each of the lectures can be viewed internally or can be downloaded as a PDF.

Translated by Philip Schaff

Against the Heresies

Book 1 (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book 2 (PDF) (Latin)

Book 3 (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book 4 (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Book 5 (PDF) (Latin/Greek)

Demonstration of the Apostolic Teaching (Armenian with English text)

 

 


John of Damascus (PDF includes Hilary of Poitiers)

Against Islam (Latin/Greek)

An Exact Exposition of the Faith

Book 1 (Latin/Greek)

Book 2 (Latin/Greek)

Book 3 (Latin/Greek)

Book 4 (Latin/Greek)


Polycarp (PDF Includes the works of Justin Martyr & Irenaeus)

Epistle to the Philippians  (Latin)