This article is incomplete and will be undergoing updates.
(This is one of the areas of textual criticism about which I know
As it stands now it comes from a limited list of sources and has
not been checked. It is advised that the reader not place great
reliance on this information without confirming it elsewhere.
It should also be remembered that information about the Fathers is perhaps subject to more disagreement than any other area in textual criticism. You can't expect everyone to agree on everything!
If you have suggestions or can offer additional information, please contact me (email@example.com).
Contents: Introduction * List of Fathers Cited in NA27 or Merk * Where Fathers are Cited in NA27 and Merk * How to Use Patristic Testimony * References/Thanks To
The text of the New Testament, it is said, is attested by a three-fold cord: the Manuscripts, the Versions, and the Fathers (often called Patristic Evidence).
Of the three, the Fathers (as we call citations of the New Testament in the writings of various ancient authors) are perhaps the most problematic. Although it has been said, not too inaccurately, that we could reconstruct the entire New Testament from the surviving quotations, the task would be much more difficult. The Fathers' texts are often loosely cited, and they are not well-organized.
Still, the Fathers are vital for reconstructing the history of the text, for only they can give us information about where and when a reading circulated. Properly used, they can also provide important support for readings otherwise poorly attested. A proper appreciation of their value is thus an important requirement for textual criticism.
The number of authors who have left some sort of literary remains is probably beyond counting. Even if we omit most of them -- which we should; there isn't much critical value in a comment in an Easter table by an unknown monk -- there are still hundreds who have appeared in one or another critical edition. For reasons of space, this page is devoted primarily to the Fathers cited in the editions of Nestle-Aland and Merk. Readers who wish to learn about more obscure Fathers, or to learn more about the Fathers cited here, are strongly urged to consult a Patrology.
The list below gives the names of every Father reported to be cited in the editions of Nestle-Aland27 and Merk. The first line of each entry lists the name of each Father, his date, the language in which he wrote (not always the language in which the writings are preserved), and the abbreviations used by Nestle and Merk. This is followed by a brief biography. For more important fathers I have also tried to give information about the text-type(s) found in their writings.
For a fuller list of fathers (but usually with shorter biographies) and a list of references one is referred to the Aland/Aland volume The Text of the New Testament or to a Patrology.
The most convenient English translation of many of the Fathers are to be found in the series The Ante-Nicene Fathers and its followers (major portions of which were at one time available on-line at http://www.sni.net/advent/fathers/, though the site has moved and I have not found its replacement -- but it should be noted that these translations are often rather rough, that many are based on non-critical texts, and that a number lack scriptural indices. In addition, the on-line versions were scanned from the printed texts, and in many instances have not been proofread and contain significant errors. The student would probably be better advised to seek more modern translations.
Note: The table of fathers in Merk is extremely inaccurate. Some fathers (e.g. Beatus) are cited under symbols different from those listed in the table. Other fathers cited in the text (e.g. Bede) are simply omitted from the list. There are also instances where I have not been able to identify the source Merk is citing. I have done my best to silently correct his errors (meaning that this table is a better reference for his edition than is the edition itself!), but I have often had to simply trust what his introduction says. (Sorry!)
For those who wish to check sources, I am slowly adding them at the end of each item, enclosed in square brackets. A list of the sources consulted is found at the end of the document.
Acacius of Caesarea. d. 366. Greek. Nestle: Acac.
Bishop of Cæsarea following Eusebius. [AA]
Adamantius. IV. Greek. Nestle: Ad. Merk: Ad.
"Adamantius" was an author who wrote under one of Origen's alternate names, although his opinions are often in conflict with Origen. The work De recta in deum fide survives in Greek and in Rufinus's Latin translation. The Greek is clearly from after 325 (probably from the 330s), which has led some to believe that the Latin is actually an earlier form. But this now seems unlikely. [US, AA]
Agathangelus. V. Armenian. Merk: Ag.
Agathangelus is one of the earliest Armenian authors. He claimed to be the secretary of the king Tiridates III (reigned c. 284-314) and is the author of an "Armenian History" covering the period 230-235, leading up to the conversion of Armenia by St. Gregory the Illuminator. Aganthanelus's writings include a long section called "The Teaching of St Gregory," containing allusions to the works of the Church Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. Many of his scriptural quotations seem to be related to the Diatessaron. [JV, BMM1]
Ambrose. d. c.397. Latin. Nestle: Ambr. Merk: Amb.
Born probably in the second quarter of the fourth century (339?) in Trier, and given a classical and legal education, he was assigned to a government post in the region of Milan around 370. In 373/374 he was baptised and made bishop (by popular demand and apparently against his will -- it is said a child cried out "Bishop Ambrose," and the crowd took up the call). In that role he was responsible for baptising Augustine of Hippo; he also exercised significant influence on several Emperors (among other things, he forced Theodosius the Great to perform penance for a massacre, and was an ambassador between emperors in the interregnum preceding Theodosius's reign). His major work on the New Testament was a commentary on Luke, and he also wrote treatises such as De Fide ad Gratianum (to the new Emperor Gratian) and De Spiritu Sancto (381). He also may have had some influence on the liturgy, and has even been credited with the Athanasian Creed. For all this, Ambrose is perhaps most significant for the respect in which he was held (his writings are generally not very profound or original; De Spiritu Sancto, for instance, owes a great deal to Basil the Great. This caused several writers to have their works appear under his name -- including Ambrosiaster, whose commentary on Paul is far more important textually than any of Ambrose's works. Ambrose himself is thought to have worked with Greek originals at times; his Old Latin quotations are thought to resemble those of ff2, while in Paul his text is close to Ambrosiaster's. Paulinus write his biography. [20CE, AA, AS, HC, PDAH]
Pseudo-Ambrose. Latin. Nestle: Ps Ambr.
Ambrosiaster. fl. 366-384. Latin. Nestle: Ambst. Merk: Ambst.
Name given to an author of the time of Pope Damasus (366-384 C.E.) whose writings were credited to Ambrose (also sometimes to Hilary and Augustine). (The name "Ambrosiaster" was proposed by Erasmus, who demonstrated that Ambrose was not the author of the works.) It is thought that he was a high civil official, and very strongly Roman, with a disdain for Greek learning. Ambrosiaster's most important work is a Latin commentary on the Pauline Epistles (excluding Hebrews), unusual for its lack of allegorical interpretations. It is probably the single most important source of Latin patristic quotations. The larger part of the Epistles is cited. He clearly worked from an Old Latin text, but it is very primitive (Souter thought it close to the prototype for the Vulgate, but this is not borne out by the citations in Nestle-Aland). Of all the "Western" witnesses to Paul, this one seems to have the most peculiar agreements with P46 and B. Agreements between P46, B, D, G, and Ambrosiaster can therefore be regarded as very ancient if not always original. In the Apocalypse, Souter compares his text to Primasius and gigas.
A second work by Ambrosiaster, Quaestiones Veteris et Novi Testamenti, does not contain as many quotations and is less important textually (though its opinions on Christianity and the monarchy had great influence). [20CE, AA, AS, RBW]
Ammonius. III. Greek. Merk: Amm (also Ammon?)
The name "Ammonius" is the source of great confusion. The more important Ammonius is Ammonius, Bishop of Thmuis (in lower Egypt) around the time of Origen. He seemingly created the Ammonian Sections as an adjunct to his gospel harmony (built around Matthew). This was the system that Eusebius elaborated and improved in his canons.
Ammonius of Thmuis is often called "Ammonius of Alexandria" -- e.g. by Merk. This is not a good name, however, as there was another (though much less important) Ammonius of Alexandria in the fifth/sixth century.
Neither author has left us much. The earlier Ammonius survives mostly through the works of Eusebius, the later only in quotations in catenae.
Andreas of Cæsarea. VI. Greek. Nestle:
(A). Merk: (An)
Archbishop of Cappadocian Cæsarea. Dated anywhere between c. 520 and c. 600. Most noteworthy work is a commentary on the Apocalypse (the earliest known to survive) that became so popular that copies of it form a major fraction of the surving tradition, being almost as common as the "strictly Byzantine" manuscripts. 1r, from which Erasmus prepared the Textus Receptus, is an Andreas manuscript, and certain of the marginal readings of the commentary wound up in the text. Andreas's commentary is also responsible for the 72 divisions into which the Apocalypse is divided. [AA, FHAS]
Aphraates. IV. Syriac. Merk: Af.
In Syriac, Afrahat. A resident of Persia (known as the "Persian Sage") who wrote in Syriac. After Ephraem, the most important Syriac Father; his writings are among those used to reconstruct the Old Syriac of Paul. His basic text of the gospels is the Diatessaron, though he perhaps also used the Old Syriac. Born probably in the second half of the third century, his great works (the Demonstrationes) date from 336/7 and 344. His date of death is listed by Merk as 367, but the evidence is incomplete. His works have sometimes been falsely attributed to Jacob Nisibenus. [AA, AS, CH]
Apostolic Constitutions/Canons. IV/V. Greek. Merk: Can Ap.
A collection of liturgical instructions from the late fourth century, sometimes credited to the Pseudo-Ignatius and possibly compiled in Antioch. To this is appended the Apostolic Canons, pertaining mostly to the ordination of the clergy. The two books are believed to be roughly contemporary. The whole is thought to be dependent on Hippolytus's Apostolic Tradition [20CE, AA, CH]
Apringius Pacensis. VI. Latin. Nestle: Apr. Merk: Ap.
Bishop of Pace (modern Beja, Portugal). His commentary on the Apocalypse probably dates from shortly after 551.
Aristides. fl. c. 150. Greek. Merk: Arist.
Author of an Apology addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius (or possibly his predecessor Hadrian; so Eusebius; it should be noted, however, that Hadrianus was one of Pius's alternate names.). It exists in an almost-complete Syriac version and Greek and Armenian fragments. The Greek text is preserved almost complete, though probably in a slightly condensed form, as part of the romance of Barlaam and Joasaph. [AA, Eus, FKBA]
Arnobius the Younger. V. Latin. Nestle: Arn.
Called "the Younger" because there was an earlier Arnobius (who reportedly taught Lactantius and wrote a defence of Christianity, Libri vii adversus gentes, during Diocletian's persecution). The younger Arnobius probably was born in North Africa but fled to Rome to escape the Vandals. In Rome, some time around 455, he compiled a set of scholia on the Gospels.
Athanasius of Alexandria. d. 373. Greek. Nestle: Ath. Merk: Ath.
The great defender of orthodoxy in the age of Arianism. As a young man of about 26, he attended the Council of Nicea, and espoused its principles for nearly fifty years. Later chosen Bishop of Alexandria (from 328, succeeding the equally orthodox Bishop Alexander), he was driven into exile five times (the first time from 335-346, and not on doctrinal but practical grounds; thereafter usually for opposing Arianism). Despite being exiled by both monarch and church, he always managed to return. His works consist mostly of treatises against the Arians (many of these from the period after 350, when Arianism seemed to be threatening to destroy orthodoxy); the most important of these was probably On (the) Incarnation. He also penned some apologetic works and a handful of other writings such as the Life on Antony (Athanasius was friends with the saintly monk, and helped encourage monasticism in Egypt). He also, having spent many years in exile in the West, introduced a handful of Western practices into the Egyptian church, and seems to have tried to introduce a more natural, personal worship. Despite his time in the west, his text is generally regarded as Alexandrian (though not as pure as it might be). His text is not as useful as might be expected, however; he does not provide enough material.
Athanasius is often credited with fixing the canon of the New Testament in one of his festal letters, but it should be noted that the church had already nearly settled on its official list of books before he was even born, and that extra-canonical books continued to be copied in Bibles for some decades after his death. His name is also attached to the Athanasian Creed, but in fact this is a Latin work which does not seem to have any connection with Athanasius. [AA, AS, HC, PDAH, RBW]
Athenagoras. II. Greek. Nestle: Athen.
A (self-described?) "Christian Philosopher." Little is known of his life. During the period when Marcus Aurelius and Commodus were co-Emperors (i.e. 177-180) he wrote an important Apology for Christianity. Unlike some authors of the period, he appealed for understanding and harmony. His other known work is On the Resurrection. [AA, HC]
Augustine of Hippo. d. 430. Latin. Nestle: Aug. Merk: Aug.
Born 354 in Thagaste in Numidia (North Africa), the son of a pagan father and a Christian mother (Monica). He had early Christian training, but initially rejected the faith. He became a Manichean before finally turning Christian (under the influence of Ambrose). In his early years he taught rhetoric (moving to Rome for this reason in 382, then to Milan in 384), then underwent a conversion experience around 385. He tried to return to seclusion in Africa, but was made priest, then coadjutator bishop of Hippo in 395, and soon after became sole holder of the episcopal title. He died in 430 as the Vandals besieged Hippo. His theology was extremely predestinarian and rigid (he was Calvin's primary inspiration), but his voluminous works were widely treasured. His many quotations are in Latin (though he was aware of the importance of the Greek), and he is responsible for the famous remark about the "Itala" being the best of the Latin versions. His text does not seem to indicate which Latin type this is, however; while his Latin text is pre-vulgate, it is clearly not the African Latin of Cyprian, and does not seem to be purely "European" either. (In Paul, his text is considered to be close to r of the Old Latin -- but r is quite distinct from the other Latin witnesses. Souter lists his text in the Acts, Catholic Epistles, and Apocalypse as close to h.) Theologically, his two most important works are the City of God and the largely autobiographical Confessions. [20CE, AA, AS, HC, PDAH]
Pseudo-Augustine (=Quodvultdeus?). Latin. Merk: Ps.Aug
Barsalibi (Dionysus bar Salibi). d. 1171. Syriac. Merk: Bars
A member of the Jacobite Syriac church, he was bishop first of Mabbûg and then Amida. He wrote commentaries on the Gospels and some works on theology. His text is essentially that of the Peshitta, and so has little influence on our text.
Basil of Ancyra. IV. Greek. Nestle: BasA.
Bishop of Ancyra from about 335. In an era when Arianism was becoming ever more powerful and ever more radical, he held relatively close to the Nicene position, trying to keep the Emperor Constantius from adopting the Arian position of Valens of Mursa during the 350s. Although by 360 it appeared that Constantius was committed to Arianism, Basil's followers eventually joined forces with Athanasius to maintain Nicene orthodoxy. Basil himself died around 374. [AA, HC]
Basil the Great of Cæsarea. d. 379. Greek. Nestle: Bas. Merk: Bas
One of the great "Cappadocian Fathers," he was the brother of Gregory of Nyssa. Born of a well-to-do family around 330, he studied in several cities before becoming a hermit (358?) and did much to reform and organize the eastern monastic rules. In the 360s he became a presbyter, then in 370 Bishop of Cappadocian Cæsarea. Along with his brother and his friend Gregory of Nazianzus, he was one of the great defenders of Nicene orthodoxy in the mid to late fourth century, particularly after the death of Athanasius. He was probably around fifty when he died on the first day of 379, and although he felt frustrated by the schisms which remained in the church (the Principate was still promoting heterodox causes, and Rome had rejected his claims), his work was important to the reunification of orthodoxy which soon followed. He also made some changes in church order, and worked to keep the ascetic movement under episcopal control. He has been called the "true founder of communal... monasticism." His book On the Holy Spirit was one of the great writings of Nicene Christianity. He also wrote letters which illuminate the problems of a bishop in those troubles times. Debate continues about the authenticity of some of his minor works. Von Soden considers his text to align with the Purple Uncials; if true, this would make it almost but not quite purely Byzantine. [20CE, AA, AS, HC, PDAH]
Basilides. II. (Greek). Nestle: Basil.
Basilidies, a Gnostic, has left no direct literary remains (although Origen credits a gospel to him). What little we know comes from Clement of Alexandria (who preserved some quotations), Irenæus, Origen, the Acta Archelai, and the Philosophumena of Hippolytus (the latter perhaps based on forged documents). The sources are extremely inconsistent, and different editors have preferred different interpretations. Irenæus and Clement describe a complex divine scheme (including, e.g., 365 different heavens!) similar to that of Valentinus. The universe has degenerated from its lofty origins. The "Hippolytan" view is of ascent rather than descent, and involves fewer divine beings. The Acta Archelai implies something like Persian dualism. [20CE]
Beatus of Liébana. VIII. Latin. Nestle: Bea. Merk: Be
A Spanish abbot, died probably 798, noteworthy primarily for his commentary on the Apocalypse.
Venerable Bede. d. 735. Latin. Nestle: Beda. Merk: Beda
Born in about 672/3 in Northumbria (Britain), he wrote a wide variety of works, including the famous history of the English church. He also translated portions of the Bible into Anglo-Saxon (though no part of these translations survive), and is said to have just finished the translation of John when he died (May 735 or possibly 736). Less important are works such as the Lives of the Abbots, which have little textual value though they tell us something about Bede himself (living as he did in monasteries from the age of seven) and the English church. His exceptional scholarship and piety are shown by the fact that he was made a deacon by the future Saint John of Beverly (this is significant as 25 was the normal minimum age). He became a priest at thirty, and spent the rest of his life in scholarship. For textual purposes, Bede's most important works are commentaries on the Gospels, Acts (for which he used the Codex Laudianus, E), and Apocalypse. His works generally testify to the quality of Vulgate manuscripts used in eighth century Britain, as his text (except, of course, where he consulted E) stands very close to the Codex Amiatinus. He was eventually canonized by Pope Leo XIII, more than 1200 years after his death (and by which time Britain was Protestant). [20CE, AS, BMM2, LSP]
John Cassian. d. c. 435. Latin. Nestle: Cn.
Born in the third quarter of the fourth century, probably in Rumania, he became a monk (first in Bethlehem, then in Egypt). Made a deacon by Chrysostom around the turn of the century, he was in Rome around 405 and in 415 founded a monastery in Marsailles. His writings struck something of a balance between those of Augustine (whose doctrine of predestination more or less denied the human power to do anything) and Pelagius (who could be interpreted as denying God's grace).
Cassiodorus. VI. Latin. Nestle: Cass. Merk: Cass
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus was born late in the fifth century in Calabria. He was probably still in his early twenties when he became secretary to Theodoric the Great around 507. Despite eventually being made a patrician, around 540 he withdrew to a monastery of his own founding, where he did much to preserve the surviving remnants of Latin literature. Much of his time in the monastery was devoted to theological writings; he also collected a large library which he described in the Institutiones Diuinarum et Sæcularium Lectionum, which at some points discusses textual questions. He and his pupils also rewote the (anonymous) Pelagian commentary on Paul (this was once accidentally credited to Primasius). Cassiodorus may also have been a translator; at least, he preserved in Latin translation some of the writings of Clement of Alexandria (and probably other Greek writers). He lived to a great age and probably died around 580. The text of his commentary on Romans is said to closely resemble Codex Amiatinus of the vulgate; his pupils, however, used texts with Old Latin readings -- as did Cassiodorus himself in certain of his other writings. [AA, AS, R&W]
John Chrysostom. d. 407. Greek. Nestle: Chr. Merk:
Called "golden-mouthed." Born in Antioch to a well-to-do family around 345, he chose a monastic career around 375 (having previously studied rhetoric under Libanius). His fine speaking brought him to high favour (although he tried to avoid clerical promotion). He was a pupil of Diodorus of Tarsus, but his orthodoxy was unquestioned. Appointed Patriarch of Constantinople against his will in 398, he quickly found himself in conflict with the Empress Eudoxia (wife of Arcadius, the first Eastern Roman emperor after the final split between the two halves); he apparently regarded her lifestyle as too luxurious, and was in any case anti-feminist. After several years of argument and reconciliation, court politics resulted in his deposition and exile (403-404). A final brief reconciliation ended in 404, and Chrysostom died in 407 while still in exile. Most of his surviving works (of which there are very many) are sermons (many of them spurious; many writers tried to add luster to their works by attributing them to the great orator). His text is generally regarded as Byzantine, and is one of the earliest examples of the type, but -- like most early witnesses to the Byzantine text -- he often departs from the developed Byzantine text of later centuries, possibly in the direction of the "Western" text. [20CE, AA, AS, MG, PDAH]
Clement of Alexandria. d. c. 215. Greek. Nestle: Cl. Merk: Cl
Titus Flavius Clemens was born in the mid-Second century, probably of pagan Athenian parents. In the latter part of that century, after years of travel and study under a variety of masters, he met Pantænus, the head of the Catechetical School. Clement became an instructor around 190, and eventually became the school's leader. He left Alexandria around 202/203 as a result of the persecution under Severus, and died a few years later (after 211 but before 217) in Asia Minor.
Clement was apparently a prolific writer; Eusebius lists ten books he wrote (the Miscellanies (Stromateis), the Outlines, the Address to the Greeks, the Pædagogus, and a series of shorter works). A few other works are mentioned by other writers. Of these, we have most of the Miscellanies (apparently never completed; Clement himself called it "not a careful literary composition" and "notes stored up for my old age"), the Address, and the Pædagogus. The latter two were designed to introduce non-Christians to the faith; the former is a collection of philosophical reflections and notes.
The text of Clement is diverse; it has readings of all known text-types. Presumably he gathered all these different forms in his wide travels and wide studies (W. Bauer thought he was at one point a Gnostic, perhaps a Valentinian, but it seems more likely that he simply lived in a mystical climate). A few of the problems with Clement's text may result from his own rather casual style of quotation. He is thus better used as an indication of how old readings are than as an indication of where they originated.
Clement of Alexandria should not be confused with Clement of Rome, who wrote 1 Clement and had assorted later works attributed to him. [20CE, AA, AS, Eus, PDAH]
Clement of Rome. c. 95. Greek. Merk: Clr
The name "Clement" is often associated with the oldest known non-canonical Christian writing, which we call 1 Clement. This anonymous letter was written from Rome to Corinth (then experiencing strong internal dissent) around 95 C.E., and was for a time held in such high esteem as to be considered canonical. As such it is found in the Codex Alexandrinus.
1 Clement was held to be the work of Clement, the third bishop of Rome (following Linus and Anencletus, and omitting Peter and Paul). This Clement was held, in turn, to be the Clement of Phil. 4:3 (so Eusebius, H. E. iii.15, following Origen. Others suggested the Roman nobleman Titus Flavius Clemens, executed by the Emperor Domitian in 95 on apparent suspicion of Christianity. All of this is, at best, speculation. Eusebius tells us that Clement was Bishop of Rome from the twelfth year of Domitian (about 93) to the third year of Trajan (100/101), crediting him with nine years of service.
The importance of 1 Clement lies not so much in its quotations (few of which are important for textual criticism; they are usually allusions at best) as for what it tells us about the canon. It appears to refer to a collection of Paul's letters, and it alludes to both Hebrews (which is in fact a major influence on the letter) and 1 Peter, showing that both were in circulation by its time. Interestingly, 1 Clement shows no particular knowledge of any of the Gospels.
Such was the popularity of 1 Clement that a number of later documents, including 2 Clement and the Clementine Homilies, were credited to him. But there can be no doubt that they came from other hands. [AA, Eus, MS]
Pseudo-Clementine Homilies. IV?. Greek. Nestle: Clhom. Merk: Clh
II Clement. II. Greek. Nestle: 2Cl. See Clement of Rome.
Cyprian. d. 258. Latin. Nestle: Cyp. Merk: Cyp
(seemingly occasionally mis-cited as Cy)
Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus was born near the beginning of the third century, probably in Carthage. He was well-educated, with a legal background (it has been speculated that this influenced his immense respect for Tertullian), and taught rhetoric in the 240s. He became a Christian rather late in life, and was not baptised until 246. Soon after (248/9), by popular demand, he became Bishop of Carthage. He fled Carthage during the Decian persecution of 249, and was subjected to condemnation as a result. He nonetheless returned to his bishopric in 251. In the following years the Roman church split into factions under Cornelius (who was willing to forgive those who lapsed during the persecution) and Novatian (who was not). Cyprian argued strongly in favor of Cornelius, and his arguments helped swing Catholic orthodoxy toward Cornelius.
When the Valerian persecution arose in 258, Cyprian decided not to flee again. He saw to it that he was arrested in Carthage, and was executed soon after.
Cyprian's surviving works consist of a large number of letters and ten or so treatises on church-related subjects. These include On Exhortation to Martyrdom, On the Lapsed, and On the Unity of the Church. The last is perhaps his most important work; unfortunately, two forms of certain key passages are in circulation.
Cyrpian derived many of his ideas from Tertullian, whom he called "the Master." His text is, not surprisingly, the African Old Latin, and is considered to be very similar to k of the Gospels and h of the epistles.
Several pseudonymous works, such as de Montibus Sina et Sion and the Ad Novatianum, eventually circulated under Cyprian's name. Perhaps the most important was de Rebaptismate, which led Eusebius to believe that Cyprian called for rebaptising those who fell into heresy, though in fact he held the opposite position. [20CE, AA, AS, Eus]
Cyril of Alexandria. d. 444. Greek. Nestle: Cyr. Merk: Cy
Born in the third century of a well-known Alexandrian family, he became Patriarch of Alexandria in 412. His opinions are rather diffuse; much of his thought seems to come from Platonic philosophy, and his arguments are often rather vague, poorly supported, and illogical. Thus he cannot be regarded as a great Christian thinker, though he accomplished much for the church. Although most of his writings are exegetical, but he played a vigorous role in the controversies with the Monophysites. He should perhaps be credited with finally vanquishing Apollinarianism. Nestorius accused him of making Jesus imperfectly human, but Cyril, a passionate debater, managed to out-maneuver and out-argue Nestorius at every turn (both Cyril and Nestorius were temporarily deposed in 431, but Cyril's deposition, while passed by a small group of bishops, was confirmed by the authorities simply to keep the peace. He was soon restored, while Nestorius's punishment proved permanent). Cyril died in 444, and was later canonized.
The text of Cyril, as might be expected, is Alexandrian, although an assortment of alien (including Byzantine) readings are found in it. [20CE, AA, HC]
Cyril of Jerusalem. d. 386. Greek. Nestle: CyrJ. Merk: Cyi.
Born in Jerusalem in the first quarter of the fourth century. He probably was not much past twenty when he became a deacon in 325. In 345 he became a presbyter, and finally Bishop of Jerusalem from about 349. Repeatedly forced into exile, he died in 386/7. His surviving writings include a set of 24 Catechetical Lectures for converts preparing for baptism.
According to Roderic L. Mullen, Cyril's text is mixed and varies from book to book but generally goes with the late Alexandrian witnesses (with some Byzantine influence). In Mark it appears to approach the "Cæsarean" witnesses. [VB, AA]
Cyrillonas. IV/V. Merk: Cyr.
Didache. II?. Greek. Nestle: Didache.
Also called The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, and as such largely incorporated into the Apostolic Constitutions and the Didascalia Apostolorum. A short pamphlet concerning the Way of Life and the Way of Death, with other material on forms of worship, surviving in a Greek manuscript from the year 1056, plus fragments, as well as in Georgian ad fragments in other langauges. Very conservative and legalistic (and possibly based on a Jewish original), it seems to derive most of its Christian material from Matthew. Its date is usually given as early second century (based on the fact that the Letter of Barnabas appears to quote it). However, the possibility should not be excluded that both the Didache and Barnabas derive their material from a common source, probably a Jewish document on "The Two Ways" (so Goodspeed). Similarly, it is possible that the material in the Apostolic Constitutions comes from a lost common source. On this basis some would regard the Didache as a later compilation of early writings. Dates as late as the fifth century have been mentioned. We should note, though, that it is mentioned by Eusebius and used (perhaps even treated as scripture) by Clement of Alexandria; this argues strongly for an earlier date. Still, dates as late as 180 or so are quite possible (some have thought that Chapter 16 describes the persecution under Marcus Aurelius, which began in 177; of course, Chapter 16 coud be a later addition).
Some have thought to connect the Didache with Montanism, but the evidence is relatively slight. Textually, the primary importance of the Didache is in connection with the Lord's Prayer, for it cites that writing in its full form, including the Doxology (oti sou estin... aiwnas). This is usually taken to mean that the longer form of the Prayer was circulating in copies of Matthew's gospel no later than the early second century -- though the possibility should not be discounted that the Byzantine copies of Matthew derived the doxology from the Didache, or that both received it from some third source. [20CE, AA, FKBA, GG, MS]
Didascalia Apostolorum (Teachings of the Apostles).
III. Greek. Merk: Didasc. Apostol.
This name is sometimes used for the Didache, but Merk seems to be referring to the third century instruction manual which the Alands call the Didascalia. Although only fragments survive in Greek, we have a complete Syriac and a partial Latin version.
Didymus (the Blind) of Alexandria. d. 398. Greek. Nestle: Did. Merk: Did.
Didymus the Blind was born around 313. Despite his handicap (acquired probably as the result of childhood disease), he became director of the Catechetical School of Alexandria during the time of Athanasius, and retained the post for some decades. Ehrman believes that he worked primarily as an individual instructor rather than a lecturer, but in any case his prodigious memory helped to re-establish the school's reputation after a period of uninspired leadership. He died very near the end of the fourth century. His literary output consists primarily of commentaries on various Biblical books (both OT and NT), though his theological works were important in the controversies of his day. The exact extent of his writings is unclear; the authorship of several works is in dispute. Many of his writings were lost until 1941, when a large collection of writings was found at Toura in Egypt. This included several commentaries of Didymus's, along with other works which seem to have been transcribed from his lectures.
Didymus's text of the Gospels seems to be a form of the Alexandrian tradition (Ehrman notes that he lived at about the time the great uncials Vaticanus and Sinaiticus were produced), but with the sort of mixed readings one often associated with the later witnesses to the tradition. In the latter chapters of John, this mixed element seems to become dominant. In the Catholics his text appears to be Alexandrian but with occasional links to the 1739 type. [AA, BE, RBW]
Diodorus of Tarsus. IV. Greek. Merk: Diod.
Born in Antioch, where he directed a monastery, he became Bishop of Tarsus in 378. He wrote commentaries on much of the New Testament. He was also active in the Christological controversies of his age, arguing that Jesus became fully human when he was born and distinguishing between the Son of God and the Son of Mary (but without considering them distinct). As a result, Cyril of Alexandria later portrayed him as a Nestorian -- but Diodorus, who was dead by 394, was long since past such controversies.
Dionysius of Alexandria. d. 264/5. Greek. Nestle: (Dion). Merk: Dion.
Dionysus of Alexandria was born around the turn of the third century, and came to Christianity from paganism and Gnosticism. He studied under Origen, and became director of the Catechetical School when Origen's successor Heraclas became bishop. Dionysus succeeded to the episcopate following Heraclas's death in 247. From that time on he went in and out of exile as a result of various persecutions. (He took a certain amount of glee in pointing out that, during the Decian persecution, he simply stayed at home while the authorities searched everywhere but there.) Finally he died in 264/5 during the famines that followed the revolt of the Roman governor of Egypt.
Dionysus was a prolific writer, and he contributed heavily to the fight against the heresies of Paul of Samosata, Nepos, and Sabellius, as well as weighing in on the topic of rebaptism of heretics and the lapsed. Of this corpus, however, only a few letters have survived, supplemented by some fragments and quotations from Eusebius and others. We know, however, that he did a careful analysis which proved that the author of the Apocalypse was not the author of the Gospel and Letters of John. [AA, Eus]
Pseudo Dionysus. V/VI. Greek. Nestle: (PsDion).
I believe this refers to the author who wrote under the name "Dionysus the Areopagite" -- although the Pseudo Dionysus is not listed in the Nestle-Aland list of Fathers, so we cannot be certain. This author wrote between 475 and 550, but since his works were regarded as early, they were used during the Christological controversies of the seventh century to support the theory that God and Christ, whatever their distinctions, had one "energeia."
Dionysus the Areopagite see the Pseudo Dionysus above.
Ephraem. d. 373. Syriac. Merk: Ef.
Born in Nisibis in 306, he became a deacon and fled to Edessa after that city was taken by the Persians. He was the leading light of the school there, and produced a wide variety of writings -- including a commentary on the Diatessaron which is our leading source for that book. Although the larger share of his works are preserved in Armenian, Ephraem is our leading source of information about the Old Syriac outside the Gospels. He died in 373.
On a less distinguished note, the upper writing of C consists of treatises by Ephraem. Sadly, these are among his less distinguished writings.
Epiphanius of Constantia. d. 403. Greek. Nestle: Epiph. Merk: Ep.
Burn in Judea c. 315, he later founded a monastery and became bishop of Salamis (Constantia) in Cyprus. He died in 403. The author of various works, of which his volume on Heresies is perhaps the most important. He also wrote De mensuris et ponderibus, a biblical "encyclopedia" now extant primarily in Syriac, and Ancoratus, on trinitarian doctrine. His text is considered to be early Byzantine, but is marred by his frequent paraphrases and extremely loose citations. [AA, CH, SS]
Epistula Apostolorum. c. 140? Greek. Merk: Ep Apost.
This curious work is the subject of much speculation, as the Greek original is lost and the primary translations (Coptic and Latin) are fragmentary. The fullest text is Ethiopic.
Even if we had a more reliable text of the work, it is clearly not the product of a particularly knowledgeable author. Although he gives a summary of Jesus's life and teachings, as well as a warning against gnosticism, the list of apostles is truly curious. To achieve a total of eleven apostles, the author includes not only Nathanael but also Cephas, who is distinguished from Peter.
Eugenius of Cathage. fl. 484. Merk: Eug.
Eusebius of Cæsarea. d. c.340. Greek. Nestle: Eus. Merk: Eus.
Born probably around 263, in Palestine, he studied under Pamphilius, and became Bishop of Cæsarea about the time Constantine the Great became ruler of the whole Empire (i.e. c. 312/313). He was a friend and close advisor of Constantine, even though his theology had an Arian tinge. His most important literary accomplishments were probably his Church History (he has been called the father of Christian History, although Hegesippus was probably the first true church historian) and the canons which bear his name. But he also wrote the Preparation for the Gospel, assorted commentaries, and a number of lesser works, many of them lost. (In addition, Eusebius offered the creed which the Council of Nicea used as the basis for its doctrinal statement.) He died around 340. His text has been called "Cæsarean," and certainly has the mixed character associated with that type, but it does not seem to preserve any type in a pure form. (His text is harder than most to analyse because he rarely provides long quotations.) Von Soden thought it a leading representative of the I text; Streeter places his text between the "Western" and Cæsarean texts. It should be noted, however (as Lake himself pointed out), that Eusebius used a number of manuscripts, and not infrequently can be found on both sides of a reading (the obvious example being Mark 16:9-20). Nor should his text be considered identical to that of Origen, even during Origen's "Cæsarean" period. [20CE, 4G, AA, AS, Eus, GZ, HC, PDAH]
Euthalius. IV. Greek. Merk: Euth.
Almost nothing is known of his life; we do not, for instance, know what role (if any) he had in the church. Nor are his dates firm; his edition has been dated from the fourth to the seventh (!) century, though the fourth century is most likely (this seems the earliest possible date, as he is dependent on Eusebius); he is reported as an Alexandrian deacon (so the prologue in 2004) and (later?) Bishop of Sulci (Euqaliou episkopou Soulkhs; so the prologue in 181). We also know that he was a grammarian, and that he created a poetic edition of the Apostolos. Euthalius/Evagrius is also credited with a list of helps for the reader, including prologues, information about cross-references, chapter headings (which also serve as useful section divisions), and other material (see under Euthalian Apparatus).
Manuscripts written in Euthalius's sense-lines are very rare (Scrivener believes they were too expensive in vellum). The apparatus, however, is common.
Various attempts have been made to reconstruct the Euthalian edition. Zuntz, regarding it as a "Cæsarean" continuation of the Alexandrian tradition, sees it in von Soden's grouping 88 181 917 1834 1836 1912, plus H and the upper writing of P. That is, Zuntz equates it to Soden's Ia1 less the bilingual uncials D F G. He regards Euthalius as formulating the late texts of Cæsarea, but does not regard it as truly "Cæsarean." (Note that this is not a list of manuscripts with Euthalian material; we find all or part of his marginalia also in manuscripts such as 1 82 421 1162 1175 1244 1424 1874 1880 1888 1891 1894 1895 1898.) It has been theorized, with little evidence, that the 69 chapter divisions used by Vaticanus in Acts are derived, with modifications, from Euthalius. It has also been theorized that the reason for the confusion about names and such is that the Euthalian apparatus is actually composite -- a first draft made in the early-to-mid fourth century, a revision toward the end of that century (either of these might have been by "Evagrius;") and a final revision/publication by the seventh century Bishop Euthalius of Sulci. [20CE, AA, BMM2, FHAS, JF, GZ]
Evagrius see Euthalius.
Filastrius. d. c. 390. Merk: Fil.
Firmicus Maternus. IV. Latin. Nestle: Firmicus.
Julius Firmicus Maternus was born in Sicily and pursued a career as a rhetor. After turning to Christianity (from a career as an astrologer), he wrote to the Emperor (Julian) to argue against paganism. He must therefore have died after Julian's accession in 361, but we have no details. His work is called On the Error of Profane Religions. [MG]
Fulgentius of Ruspe. V/VI. Latin. Nestle: Fulg. Merk: Fulg
Born in Telepte, Africa around 467, he came of a senatorial family and served for a time as a procurator. He then retired to a monastery. He was bishop of Ruspe from about 507 (though he spent 508-515 and 517-523 in exile). Much of his work is directed against "semi-Pelagianism." He died some time around 530. His text of the Catholic Epistles is reportedly similar to that of the Old Latin q (Codex Monacensis, Beuron #64; Nestle's r). [AA, AS, CH]
Gennadius I of Constantinope. d. 471. Greek. Merk: Genn
Patriarch of Constantinople 458-471. His surviving works consist only of fragments of commentaries on the Pauline Epistles.
Gospel of the Ebionites. II?. Merk: Ev. Eb
Also called "The Gospel of the Twelve," and sometimes erroneously labelled "The Gospel of the Hebrews." Now lost except for a few citations in Epiphanius. It appears to be a sort of harmonized gospel based primarily on the Matthew (in whose mouth portions of it are placed; the rest is credited to the Apostles generally), with some modifications to suit the views of the Ebionites. Epiphanius considers it to be a "Hebrew" work, but from its contents it seems likely that the original was Greek. [GG, CG]
Gospel of the Hebrews. I/II?. Merk: Ev. Hebr
Although Jerome claims to have translated this from the Hebrew, the Gospel of the Hebrews as we have it is clearly a Greek work, written possibly in Egypt (where some small fragments believed to be part of it have been found). It is mentioned frequently -- and often with respect -- by early writers, but has survived only in fragments. It is quite possible that our surviving fragments (quoted by various writers in several languages) actually come from multiple documents. It appears to have been a narrative gospel, with Matthew the largest contributing element and Luke second. Given the confusion about just what document this is, we really cannot say much more about it. [GG, CG]
Gospel of the Nazoreans. I/II?. Merk: Ev. Naz
This is another book often referred to as the "The Gospel of the Hebrews." This one at least appears to have been composed in Aramaic, probably based primarily on the Gospel of Matthew. It seems to have been referred to by Hegesippus, dating it before 180. It survives primarily in quotations from Jerome, with a handful from Eusebius and perhaps one from Origen. [CG]
Gregory of Nazianzus. IV. Greek. Merk: Na
Born around 329/330, his father was Bishop of Nazianzus. In 362 he became a priest. He never actually became Bishop of Nazianzus himself. Rather, he was chosen Bishop of the small town of Sasima at the instigation of his friend Basil the Great. This was part of Basil's attempt to place as many orthodox bishops as possible in an area that had slipped from Basil's control. Gregory was reluctant -- and, indeed, the move backfired when Gregory was transferred to Constantinople in 379/380. Bishops at this time were not supposed to change jurisdictions, and the transfer was used as an argument against Gregory. Tired of the controversy, he retired in 381 and turned to writing an autobiography. Despite the controversy,, he was of immense service to the church in a troubled time. Along with Basil of Cæsarea and Gregory of Nyssa, he was one of the three great "Cappadocian Fathers" who helped save orthodoxy against Arianism. He died around 390/1. Of his writings we have a series of orations plus some letters and poems. Von Soden considers his text to align with the Purple Uncials. [AA, AS, HC, PDAH]
Gregory of Nyssa. d. 394. Greek. Nestle: GrNy. Merk: Ny
The younger brother of Basil the Great of Cæsarea, and an equally staunch defender of orthodoxy. He was appointed bishop of Nyssa by his brother in 371 (he was only about 35 at the time). Later he was moved to Sebaste in Roman Armenia. As well as producing assorted exegetical works, he argued strongly for Nicene orthodoxy against Arianism, doing much of his best work after Basil's death. Gregory died in 394. Von Soden considers his text to align with the Purple Uncials. [AA, AS, HC, PDAH]
Hegesippus. II. Greek. Merk: Heg
Very little is known of this author, although Eusebius believed he was Jewish (since he knew Aramaic and/or Hebrew; also, he listed no fewer than seven Jewish sects) and that he "belonged to the first generation after the Apostles." Having travelled widely, he wrote a book of Memoirs containing much church history. This was probably completed during the papacy of Eleutherus (174-189), since Eusebius reports that Hegesippus lived in Rome from the time of Pope Anicetus to that of Eleutherus.
Hegesippus's book is now lost, but significant portions are quoted by Eusebius and we find fragments in other authors such as Epphanius (though not cited by name). [20CE, AA, Eus, CH]
Heracleon. fl. 160. Greek. Merk: Her
A Valentinian Gnostic, he wrote a commentary on John (said to have been used by Origen despite its source). He also seems to have been used by various fathers as a reference for the Preaching of Peter.
Hesychius of Jerusalem. V. Greek. Nestle: Hes.
Not to be confused with the author credited with an edition of the Septuagint. A monk who became a presbyter in Jerusalem some time around 410-415, he wrote extensive commentaries (which, however, survive only in fragments). He seems to have been alive as late as 451.
Hilarius Arelatus. fl. 440. Merk: Hila
Hilary of Poitiers. d. 367. Latin. Nestle: Hil. Merk: Hil
Born in the first quarter of the fourth century to a pagan family, he turned Christian and was appointed bishop of his home city of Poitiers around 350. He was exiled to Asia Minor for a time, but continued to fight Arianism in Gaul. His major work is a commentary on Matthew; he is also credited with De Trinitate Libri XII, a commentary on the Psalms, and some shorter works. Souter compares his text in the gospels with the Old Latin r (Nestle's r1). His scattered quotes from Paul are interesting; while often "Western," they seem to show the same sort of intermittent affinity with P46 and B that we also find in Ambrosiaster. (This is not to say that the two have the same text, but the influences seem to be similar.) [AA, AS, CH]
Hippolytus. d. 235/6. Greek. Nestle: Hipp. Merk: Hipp
A student of Irenæus, Hippolytus was probably born around 170 and spent much of his early life in Rome (Origen was among those who heard him speak). In the early third century he openly voiced his disgust with the laxity of the Bishops of the time. This led to a schism in the Roman church in 217, with Hippolytus appointed Pope in opposition to the official candidate Calixtus. He continued to oppose the various Popes until 235, when both Hippolytus and his rival Pontianus were sent to the mines during the Persecution of Maximin. He probably died there, although there is a chance that he lived to return to Rome in 236. In any case, he was buried in 236. His death healed the schism in Rome.
A statue of Hippolytus lists his literary works and shows that he was a prolific writer. Relatively little of this survives, however; we have portions of his Refutations of All Heresies in Greek (though some have thought this to be from another author, perhaps named Josephus (not the Jewish historian); Photius credits Hippolytus's On the Universe to Josephus), and various other works such as the Apostolic Tradition in translation. Curiously for a Western author, most of his works are preserved in Eastern languages (Georgian, Armenian, Old Church Slavonic). Eusebius, though familiar with a number of these works, did not know his history, for he describes him as "a prelate like Beryllus, though his see is unknown." His text is described as "Western" (though this is based largely on translations), and Souter thought he might have consulted the Diatessaron. [20CE, AA, AS, Eus, HC]
Irenæus. late II. Greek. Nestle: Ir. Merk: Ir/Ir
One of the most important early Fathers, known almost entirely for one work, the Adversus Hæreses, "Against Heresies." This work describes a number of heretical movements of which we would otherwise have no knowledge, and so provides important historical and textual information about the early church.
Born in the early-to-mid second century, probably near Smyrna, Irenæus studied under Polycarp, then moved to Lyons, where he was bishop from 177/178. His great work was written around 185 (At least, the third book lists popes up to the reign of Pope Eleutherus -- i.e. 174-189). He probably died late in the second century. Gregory of Tours (who wrote in the sixth century) reports that he succeeded the martyred bishop Photinus, converted "the whole city" of Lyons to Christianity, and was then martyred himself (the first of many local martyrs; History of the Franks I.29). All of this would inspire more confidence if it had more confirmation, e.g. in evidence that Lyons actually did turn Christian.
Sadly for posterity, the Greek original of the Adversus Haereses has perished almost completely. All that endures, apart from fragments (one on a potsherd!) and quotations in authors such as Epiphanius, is a Latin translation, probably from the fourth or perhaps the third century (in Africa?), plus some material in Syriac. (Souter argues, based on the fact that one quotation follows the Lucianic recension of the Septuagint, that the Latin translation must be from the fourth century; however, we now know that Lucianic readings precede sometimes Lucian.) While the translation seems to preserve the outline of Irenæus's text fairly well, one may suspect the scriptural quotations of assimilation to the Old Latin (the Greek text, insofar as we have it, often disagrees with the Latin).
The Latin text of the Adversus Hæreses gives its quotations in a distinctly "Western" form, perhaps most closely resembling the European Latin. Irenæus is one of the chief supports for the belief in the antiquity of the "Western" text.
One other work of Irenæus's survives, the Apostolic Preaching, preserved in Armenian. Comparison with the Adversus Hæreses seems to show two different sorts of text, heightening the suspicion that at least one book has been assimilated to the current local version. Eusebius also quotes from a variety of writings, and mentions letters such as To Blastus, on Schism and To Florinus, on Sole Sovereignty, or God is not the Author of Evil. [20CE, AA, AS, Eus, PDAH]
Jerome (Hieronymus). d. 420. Latin. Nestle: Hier. Merk: Hier
Born in Dalmatia sometime around 350 (347?; others have offered dates as early as 331), Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymous soon showed immense potential as a scholar. He lived for a while in Jerusalem, then was summoned by Pope Damasus in 382 to revise the Latin versions. The result, of course, was the Vulgate. He completed his revision of the Gospels in 383/4, but seems to have largely abandoned the work to devote his energies to the Hebrew Old Testament. He died in 419/20. In addition to his translations (which include patristic works as well as the Vulgate), he left a number of letters and assorted commentaries plus biographies of "Famous Men."
The text of Jerome is something of a puzzle. The Vulgate gospels have an obviously mixed text, with many Alexandrian readings, a few "Western" variants (presumably left over from the Old Latin), and a very strong Byzantine overlay. In the Epistles -- where Jerome's work seems to have been cursory -- the text again has Alexandrian readings, this time with more "Western" elements but hardly any Byzantine overlay. The text of the Apocalypse stands fairly close to A and C.
Interestingly, the text used by Jerome in his commentaries often differs from that in the Vulgate. (Compare Souter: "In Luke he certainly used the [Old Latin] a type. In the Acts there are signs he used a type related to gig and p... but this was not the type he used as the basis of the Vulgate.") Some of these readings (e.g. the short reading in Eph. 5:31) seem to belong to obscure traditions related to Family 1739 and the African Latin. Taken as a group, they do not appear to belong with any particular text-type. [AA, AS, BMM1, PDAH, RBW]
John of Damascus. VII/VIII. Greek. Merk: Dam
Born in Damascus after the Islamic conquest (probably around 650; certainly not much earlier, as his father was still working for the government in 685). His father served as a treasury official in the Islamic government. (It was common for Christians to hold such posts.) For a time John also served the government, but some time around 695-707 he entered a Jerusalem monastery. Later he became a priest, and turned to writing. His major work for our purposes is a commentary on Paul (which, however, is largely based on Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Cyril of Alexandria). He also wrote concerning the heresies of his time, such as iconoclasm, and about Islam. [20CE, AA]
Julius Cassanius. II. Nestle: Jul.
Justin Martyr. d. c. 165. Greek. Nestle: Ju. Merk: Iust
Born early in the second century in Palestine, but of a pagan family, he later turned Christian and apologist. He wrote extensively to justify Christianity to pagans (he directed writings to the Emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, as well as producing the famous Dialogue with Trypho), and is one of the earliest Christian writers whose works survive in large quantities. He alludes to scripture regularly, but rarely with precision; it is rarely possible (especially in the synoptic gospels) to tell what his actual text was, or even which book he is quoting, as he is so given to paraphrase (it is believed he used the Gospel of Matthew most frequently). He was martyred in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. (Tatian, who knew Justin, reports that this was at the instigation of the cynic philosopher Crescens, who considered Justin to be showing him up.) [AA, AS, CH, Eus]
Juvencus. IV. Latin. Merk: Juv
Gaius Vettius Aquilinus Juvencus was an upper-class Roman citizen of Spain. A presbyter but perhaps not a priest, he compiled a harmony of the gospels in Latin hexameters around 330 -- little of which, however, has survived.
Lactantius. d. after 317. Latin. Nestle: Lact.
Lucius Caecilius Firmanius Lactantius was born late in the first half of the third century. Born a pagan, he seems to have been a published author before he turned Christian. He himself tells us that the Emperor Diocletian called him to Nicomedia to be a teacher. Whether he was a Christian at that time is unknown, but he must have converted by 303, as Diocletian's persecution forced him to limit his activities to writing. In 317 the Emperor Constantine called him to tutor his son Crispus. The date of his death is unknown.
Lactantius wrote over a dozen books, about half of which survive in whole or in part. His most important extant works are the massive Divine Institutes (of which we also have an epitome) and the vicious little treatise On the Deaths of the Persecutors (sometimes denied to Lactantius, but on rather weak grounds).
Lazarus Pharpensis (Lazar Pàrpetsi). V/VI. Armenian. Merk: Laz
Author of an "History of Armenia" covering the years 385-485. [JV]
Liber Graduum. IV/V. Syriac. Merk: LG
A set of writings on monasticism and asceticism. The date is uncertain and has been placed as late as the fifth century. The fact that it uses the Diatessaron, however, argues for a somewhat earlier date.
Lucifer of Calaris. d. c. 371. Latin. Nestle: Lcf. Merk: Lcf
Originally Bishop of Cagliari/Calaris (in Sardinia), he was exiled in 355 following the Synod of Milan. He turned to polemic writings, and died around 371. His text supplies many interesting Old Latin readings, often of the most radical character. Souter compares it to a in John, to gigas in Acts, and to d in Paul. [AA, AS]
Marcion. II. Greek. Nestle: Mcion. Merk: Mn
In some ways the most important of the Fathers, since his editorial work on Luke and the Pauline Epistles may have given an important impetus to the formation of the New Testament canon.
Marcion was born in the late first century in Sinope (on the Black Sea in Pontus). The son of a bishop, and himself apparently a successful businessman, he went to Rome at around 138, but was expelled from the church there in 144. He went on to form a rival church. His death date is unknown.
Without going into detail about Marcion's theology, we should note that he separated the Gods of the Old and New Testaments. This may have led him to downplay the Old Testament allusions from his New Testament (which consisted only of Luke and the ten Pauline Epistles to churches); it is often claimed that he removed these referemces. However, in 1 Corinthians we have evidence that he retained at least nine of eleven Old Testament citations.
Marcion's writings and his Bible text have not survived; we know them only from citations by authors such as Tertullian and Epiphanius. This, combined with the fact that Marcion rewrote the documents he studied, makes it difficult to recover his underlying text. (Nor are we helped by the fact that our best evidence about him comes from Tertullian, who was quite capable of rewriting his sources). But all evidence seems to indicate that his text was highly interesting and very early (e.g. it clearly omitted the reference to Ephesus in Eph. 1:1). Readings associated with him seem to have been transmitted in the "Western," P46/B, and 1739 texts; they are rarer in the Alexandrian text. (Compare Souter, who writes -- based on what we should note is incomplete evidence -- that "We find him in company with the Latin witnesses, especially the European Old-Latin MSS., but not infrequently also with the Old Syriac. He is never on the side of the great Greek uncials against both these versions.") Still, if Marcion can be reliably determined to support a reading, and if it has good support from other, less partisan witnesses, we may consider that reading to be very ancient and significant. [US, RBW, AA, AS, GG, etc.]
Marcus Eremita. IV/V. Greek. Nestle: Marc.
A prolific author whose works have largely been lost, he was for a time in charge of a monastery in Ancyra. He later retired and became a hermit. He died some time after 430.
Marcus/Marcosians. II. Nestle: Mar.
Marius Victorinus. IV. Latin. Nestle: MVict.
Gaius Marius Victorinus moved from Africa to Rome in the fourth century. He became famous as a teacher of rhetoric, but, having turned Christian, he gave up the subject in 362 in response to a law of Julian the Apostate. His primary work was a commentary on the Pauline Epistles.
Maximus of Turin. IV/V. Latin. Merk: Max
The earlier of two Bishops of Turin with the name Maximus. His literary output consists of nearly a hundred sermons. Of his life we know only that Gennadius reports that he died between 408 and 423.
Melitius of Antioch. d. 381. Greek. Merk: Mel
Originally Bishop of Sebaste, later translated to Antioch. Like so many in this period, he was sent into exile on several occasions. He died in 381 during the Council of Constantinople.
Methodius of Olympus. III. Greek. Nestle: Meth. Merk: Meth
A very shadowy figure, believed to have been the bishop of Lycian Olympus (though even this is uncertain). He may have been martyred in 311. He was evidently a prolific writer, and though we have only fragments in Greek, much of his work survives in Slavonic and other eastern languages.
de Montibus Sina et Sion. III. Merk: SiSi
One of hte vaious works falsely attributed to Cyprian. [20CE]
Naasseni (Naassene Gnostics). II. Merk: Naass
A group of Gnostics known primarily from Hippolytus. They are believed to have been active during the reigns of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. Their theology is typical Gnostic, replete with odd dieties, flute players, and the like. They have been equated with the Ophites, but the evidence is at best thin.
Nicetas of Remesiana. IV/V. Latin. Nestle: Nic. Merk: Nic (also Niceta?)
Nicetas was bishop of Remesiana (in what was then Dalmatia and is now Serbia). He died some time after 414. What little we know of him comes mostly from the writings of his friend Paulinus of Nola.
Nilus of Ancyra. V. Greek. Nestle: Nil.
Director of a monastery in Ancyra in Asia. He died some time around 430.
Novatian. III. Latin. Nestle: Nov. Merk: Nov
Very little is known of this author's life; we know neither the date of his birth nor that of his death. He probably was not born a Christian, as we are told that he received baptism on his sickbed. Other than this we know nothing of him till the time of Decius's persecution, when we find him writing a letter to Cyprian on behalf of the Roman congregation.
Novatian's career reached its somewhat dubious height in 251, when the Roman church split over the question of whether to re-admit those who had lapsed from the faith during the persecution. When Cornelius was elected Bishop of Rome by those willing to forgive lapses, the stricter party elected Novatian as a rival Pope. Thus, although entirely orthodox, he became one of the first schismatics of the western church.
Little else can be said of further career. That he at some point left Rome seems likely. The fifth century historian Socrates says that he died in 257 during the persecution of Valerian, but there is some evidence that he was alive in 258.
Since Novatian was a schismatic, his works were not prized for his name. Yet their intelligence gave them value. We are thus in the peculiar situation of having several works of Novatian preserved under the names of other authors. On the Trinity, for instance, was credited to Tertullian. Other works are credited to Cyprian. Had it not been for a list of Novatian's writings preserved by Jerome, we might never have known that On the Trinity and On Jewish Foods are by Novatian. As it is, there are several books Harnack considers to be by Novatian that we simply cannot be sure of. Souter considers his text to be similar to the Old Latin a in John, and close to d of Paul. [AA, AS, HC, GG]
Oecumenius. VI. Greek. Merk: Oec
Sometimes listed (falsely) as a bishop of Tricca and as of the tenth century. He wrote a commentary on the Apocalypse. (The commentaries on the Acts, Catholic Epistles, and Paul which circulated under his name are listed by the Alands pseudepigraphal, though Von Soden did not so distinguish.) Trained in philosophy and known as a rhetor, Oecumenius was apparently also a monophysite, as he wrote in support of the known monophysite Severus of Antioch. [AA, CH]
Opus Imperfectum in Matthew. IV/V. Merk: OI
Opera Graeca. Merk: Ef
Ophites. Nestle: Ophites.
A Gnostic sect, also called the "Sethians" (after Seth, the son of Adam and Eve from whom they claimed descent). Much of what we know about them comes from Origen in Contra Celsum (Celsus had described the elaborate "Ophite Diagram" which he considered an orthodox Christian artifact, and Origen of course counterattacked.) They had the usual complex Gnostic theology of aeons and divinities, with three orders of the universe. They have been equated with the Naasseni, though the evidence is at best thin. [20CE]
Optatus of Mileve. IV. Latin. Merk: Opt
Of uncertain date, except that Augustine mentions him as dead in the year 400. As Bishop of Mileve (in Numidia), he wrote to combat Donatism, and his writings (in six or more volumes) are one of the chief sources concerning that schism. [AA, CH]
Origen d. 254. Greek. Nestle: Or (Ors refers to the
commentary on John 2:12-25 not by Origen). Merk:
Born of a Christian family in 184/5, his father Leonidas died in the persecution in the tenth year of Severus (202; Eusebius tells us that Origen wanted to be martyred at the same time but was prevented by his mother, who hid all his clothing to keep him from going out). Even at this early age the formidably able Origen was already able to support his mother and siblings by teaching rhetoric. About a year later Bishop Demetrius appointed him to direct the Alexandrian Catechetical School, succeeding Clement of Alexandria. Soon after this, if Eusebius is to be believed, he neutered himself to fulfill Jesus's comment about those who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Ecc. Hist. vi.8; the story of Origen occupies a large portion of this book of Eusebius's history.
Origen left Alexandria during Caracalla's 215 persecution, and spent a few years in Cæsarea before Demetrius called him back to Egypt and chastised him for preaching without being ordained. In 230/1 he was ordained a presbyter while on a journey. Demetrius felt that Origen was flouting his authority and managed to have Origen barred from teaching in Alexandria. He left Alexandria for Cæsarea, where he spent the rest of his life. He suffered during the Decian persecution, and this may have hastened his death, which took place in the reign of Decius (so Eusebius) or soon after (so most moderns).
Although Origen's views were later to be condemned (he believed, e.g., in the pre-existence of souls), his scholarship during his lifetime was unquestioned. He had trouble with the church hierarchy, but this seems to have been due to jealousy rather than doctrinal reasons.
Origen was fortunate enough to have a wealthy patron, Ambrose (not the father of that name, but an Alexandrian whom Origen had converted to his way of thinking), who allowed him to devote his life to writing and scholarship. (Epiphanius reports that his writings totalled six thousand volumes -- i.e. presumably scrolls -- although Rufinus, probably correctly, calls this absurd. Jerome gives a list describing 177 volumes on the Old Testament and 114 on the New. Fewer than 10% of these survive in Greek, and the Latin tradition is only slightly fuller.)
The catalog of Origen's works is immense. Unlike the majority of early Christians, he took the trouble to learn at least some Hebrew, and so was able to comment on the Hebrew Bible and even compile his massive six-column "Hexapla" edition of the Old Testament (comprising the Hebrew text, the Hebrew transcribed in Greek, and the four translations of Aquila, Symmachus, LXX, and Theodotion) -- a work which alone was larger than most scholars' lifetime output. He also wrote massive commentaries on large parts of the Bible -- often several times the size of the original volume (e.g. his Commentary on Matthew contained 21 books, that on John 32, and those on Romans and Galatians 15 each). Alongside this were several apologetic and theological works, although little of this has survived except the work Against Celsus (arguably the best Christian apology ever written, compiled in answer to arguably the ablest assault on the faith). In addition, about 575 of his homilies were transcribed (though, again, only a handful survive in Greek and fewer than half even in Latin). The sheer volume of his writings worked against him; it was almost impossible for any library to contain them all, and even Eusebius complained about the fragmentary state of many of Origen's works.
The text of Origen is a complex riddle. Part of the problem is the spotty survival of his works. As noted, a large fraction of his output exists only in Latin (much of it translated by Rufinus, who often rewrote what he translated). These sections have at times been accomodated to the various Latin versions. Even the portions preserved in Greek are often conformed to the Byzantine text, so that the lemmata of Origen's commentaries are only to be trusted where they are supported by his exposition.
Aside from these difficulties, Origen seems to have used several sorts of texts. In Alexandria, he apparently used a very early Alexandrian text (by no means identical to the later text of Sinaiticus etc., especially in Paul, although it is closer to Vaticanus and the papyri). Once he moved to Cæsarea, he apparently took to using local, presumably "Cæsarean," manuscripts for some books -- but by no means all.
In the Gospels, Origen is considered the key witness to the "Cæsarean" text. Indeed, only Origen preserves it in anything like a pure form -- and even that only in part, since so many of Origen's works use Alexandrian texts. For example, Streeter claims that the text of Mark Origen used in his Commentary on John is Alexandrian in books 1-5 (written while Origen was in Alexandria) and Cæsarean in the remainder (written in Cæsarea. For all the flaws -- and they are many -- in Streeter's methodology, this conclusion seems reasonable). On the other hand, Origen seems to have used Alexandrian manuscripts of John (closer to Vaticanus than Sinaiticus) for the entire Commentary -- and probably to the end of his life. Streeter also believes Origen used a Cæsarean text of Matthew for his Commentary on Matthew. Elsewhere Origen falls closest to Family 1739, although (as Zuntz noted) his text is by no means identical to the 1739 text (or to Eusebius, who is also said to have a "Cæsarean" text). Instead Origen seems to fall somewhere between P46/B and 1739, though noticeably closer to the latter. [4G, AA, Eus, GG, GZ, PDAH, RBW]
Orosius. IV/V. Latin. Nestle: Oros.
Paulus Orosius was born in what is now Portugal (Braga) in the fourth century. By 414 he was a priest visiting Augustine in Hippo, and in 415 he met Jerome in Bethlehem. Returning to Africa, he wrote a history which extends through the year 417. Charles E. Chapman describes this history as "of a pronouncedly anti-pagan, pro-Christian character." Nothing is known of his life after it was finished.
Pacian of Barcelona. IV. Latin. Merk: Pac
Bishop of Barcelona, respected by Jerome. He died around 380-390.
Pelagius. d. after 418. Latin. Nestle: Pel. Merk: Pel
Heretic, with a theology considered to place too much stress on human action and too little on God's grace. Born in the mid to late third century in Britain, he moved to Rome (perhaps around 400) but left in 410 to escape the sack of the city. He spent the following years North Africa, where he became a frequent target of Augustine's pen. Later he moved to Palestine. He was excommunicated in 417/418. He probably died in the course of the 420s. His most important work is a commentary on Paul (c. 409) which includes many important Old Latin quotations -- of a type which perhaps preceded the Vulgate. [AA, AS, CE, HC, PDAH]
Polycarp of Smyrna. d. 156 (167?). Greek. Nestle: Polyc. Merk: Pol
Bishop of Smyrna. Born in the third quarter of the first century, he learned directly from apostles and others who knew Jesus. He in turn tutored Irenæus. He was martyred in 155 or 156 (so many moderns) or 167 or 168 (so, e.g., Eusebius, who dates the event to the reign of Marcus Aurelius) or perhaps even later (one manuscript states that Irenæus had a vision of his death while in Rome -- i.e. 177 -- but if this were true, it would seem likely that Irenæus would have mentioned it). He is said to have been in his eighties, and certainly he must have been very old. Only fragments of his writings (notably a letter to the Philippians, though this is now believed to be composite, with the final tow chapters coming perhaps from the time of Ignatius and the rest being later) have been preserved, but he was held in such high respect that it is likely that he influenced other writers -- notably, of course, Irenæus. We do have a description of his martyrdom; while it lacks the extravagance of some such stories, it still seems somewhat exaggerated. [20CE, AA, Eus]
Primasius. VI. Latin. Nestle: Prim. Merk: Pr
The bishop of Hadrumentum in Africa, his major work is a commentary on the Apocalypse (based in part on that of Victorinus). He died after 552, probably in the 560s. His text is said to resemble the Old Latin h. (Note: References to a commentary on Paul by Primasius are the result of a modern error; the commentary actually comes from the school of Cassiodorus.) [AA, AS]
Priscillian. d. 385/6. Latin. Nestle: Prisc. Merk: Prisc
Born in a well-to-do Spanish family, he became Bishop of Avila in 380. He was, however, heretical on his doctrine of the Trinity (which he did not believe in). In 385 he was tried for his heresy and/or for magic, and executed -- the first execution carried out by the church, and one that roused strong protests even from certain of Priscillian's opponents. (It was a troubled time in the late empire, the emperor Magnus Maximus was trying to establish himself, and may have been trying to prove his orthodoxy when he allowed Priscilliam to be executed.) Priscillian's primary writing is the Canones in epistulas Paulinas, which naturally includes many Old Latin readings (Souter equates his text with that of Speculum in the Catholic Epistles, and considers it close to Gigas in Acts) -- but Priscillian is doubtless most noteworthy for originating the "Three Heavenly Witnesses" in 1 John 5:7-8. [AA, AS, HC, MG]
Prosper of Aquitaine. V. Latin. Nestle: Prosp.
Prosper Tiro was a monk and lay theologian from near modern Marsailles. He corresponded with Augustine and supported his rigid doctrines during the period from 428 to 435 when they were most strongly under attack. Although he had received only lukewarm support from Pope Celestine, from 440 he served in the court of Pope Leo I. He died some time after 455. Previously thought to have written De promissionibus, now attributed to Quodvultdeus.
Ptolemy the Gnostic. before 180. (Greek). Nestle: Ptol. Merk: Ptol.
A Valentinian, known from the writings of Irenæus (who cites his commentary on the prologue to John) and Epiphanius (who preserves his Letter to Flora). He taught that Christ had a soul and a "psychic" body, and that God is one, not two. This made him sort of a moderate by Gnostic standards.
Quodvultdeus. d. c. 453. Latin. Nestle: Qu.
Born probably in the late fourth century, and became Bishop of Carthage in 437. He was banished by Geiserich the Vandal in 439, and died some years later. Believed to be the author of certain works once attributed to Augustine. His most important work, however (if it is truly his), is De promissionibus et praedictionibus dei, a study of prophecies about Christ and the Church.
de Rebaptismate (Pseudo-Cyprian). III. Latin. Merk: Rebapt.
A sort of proto-Donatist tract, claiming to be by Cyprian (and sometimes included in his works) but in fact opposed to his doctrines on how to treat those who left the church during persecutions.
Rufinus. d. 410. Latin. Merk: Ruf.
Tyrannius Rufinus was born probably shortly before 350 of a Christian family at Aquileia. He spent time there as a monk, but also travelled to Egypt (where he lived for six years) and Jerusalem before returning to Italy in 397. He died in Messina in 410. Although he wrote some works of his own (on the Apostle's Creed; also on church history and biography), his primary role was as a translator (e.g. of Origen), but he often adapted what he translated, conforming scriptures to the Latin versions and adding commentary of his own. Thus one must always be careful, in using one of Rufinus's translations, to distinguish the original author from the translator.
Sedulius. V. Latin. (Merk: Sed)
Author of a biblical epic called the "Paschale Carmen" (sometimes used for instruction), as well hymns such as the well-known "A solis ortus cardine." Not to be confused with the Irish priest Sedulius Scottus, also known for poetry, who wrote commentaries on Matthew and Paul. [CS]
Serapion of Thmuis. IV. Greek. Merk: Sar.
After a time as head of a monastery, he became Bishop of Thmuis (in lower Egypt) in 339. He is responsible for the Euchologion, a collection of liturgical prayers. He died around 360.
Severian of Gabala. IV/V. Greek. Merk: Sev.
Bishop of Gabala (in Syria). He wrote a commentary on the Pauline Epistles which is now lost but which is quoted in various catenæ. He died some time after 408.
de Singularitate. III. Merk: Sing.
Socrates. V. Greek. Merk: Socr.
Although a layman, his importance is as a church historian (his work is considered the sequel to Eusebius). He was born in Constantinople probably around 380, and died around 439/40.
Speculum (Pseudo-Augustine). V?. Latin. Nestle: Spec. Merk: (cited as Old Latin m).
A collection of statements and precepts drawn from the Old Latin Bible (both Old and New Testaments). It has been attributed to Augustine, but this is not likely. Aland dates it c. 427. Except in editions associated with the Alands, it is usually cited as m of the Old Latin. In Paul at least, the text seems to be generally more primitive than the European Latin of the bilingual uncials. In the Catholics, it has many links with the text of Priscillian.
Tatian. II. Greek/Syriac. Merk: Ta.
The problems of Tatian and his Diatessaron simply cannot be covered here; they belong in their own article (some additional information can be found in the article on the Versions under Diatessaron). In any case, Tatian is not truly a Father; if he wrote works about orthodox Christianity, they have not survived. Even his magnum opus has effectively disappeared in the original language (we can say this confidently even though we do not know what language it was!).
Tatian, a resident of Syria or Assyria, was born at an unknown date in the first half of the second century. In the middle years of the century he moved to Rome (where he knew, among others, Justin Martyr) and became a member of the Christian community. Around 167, however, he left the Roman church; most scholars think this was for doctrinal reasons -- and probably not entirely voluntary. Tatian has been regarded as the founder of the Encratites; in any event, he encouraged chastity and various other forms of self-discipline not accepted by the Orthodox. Jerome, for instance, describes him as "Tatian, who maintaining the imaginary flesh of Christ, pronounces all sexual connection impure, [and] who was also the very violent heresiarch of the Encratites" (Commentary on Galatians; English translation from the Nicene Fathers series).
From Rome, Tatian returned to Syria, where he gathered followers, wrote, and at some point assembled his great work, the Diatessaron.
Tatian seems to have been the first to attempt something which has since become very popular: He created a harmony of the Gospels. (It is generally believed that he used only the canonical four, but the lack of knowledge about his text has led some to speculate that he used the Gospel of the Hebrews or some other work in addition.) It is not certain whether the original language was Greek or Syriac; whichever it was, the author soon turned it into the other.
That Tatian's work was very skilled can hardly be denied. But it was not the gospel, and it came from an apparent heretic. Most parts of the church refused to use it.
Not so the Syriac Christians. Perhaps lacking a Bible of their own, they adopted the Diatessaron and clung to it for probably two centuries before the organized church managed to substitute the regular gospels.
Despite this widespread popularity, the Diatessaron has been very poorly preserved. No certain fragments of the Syriac version are known, and of the Greek we have only the single uncial fragment 0212, from Dura. Our primary knowledge comes from the Armenian version of Ephraem's commentary. Many other sources are quoted as having "Diassetaric" texts -- but the student should always be careful lest a gospel harmony be mistaken for the gospel harmony. Some of these harmonies (particularly the more recent versions from Western countries) are probably independent.
The influence Tatian had on the orthodox New Testament is uncertain. Von Soden thought him responsible for many harmonistic readings (and this shows in the form of a massive number of alleged readings of Tatian in his and Merk's apparati) -- but the simple fact is that most scribes could make up harmonizations on their own. Therefore attributing variants to Tatian is a hazardous business. Even citing his support for a particular reading is rather doubtful; the student should be very careful to check just which edition contains a particular reading. One should also be very careful to make sure that the reading belongs to the gospel under consideration....
Tatian wrote various other works; the most useful of these (at least in the opinion of Eusebius) was The Greeks Answered, from which we have assorted fragments. [Eus]
Tertullian. II/III. Latin. Nestle: Tert. Merk: Tert.
Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus was born shortly after the middle of the second century to a pagan family in Carthage (his father was a Roman centurion). Early in life he practiced law in Rome, returning to his native city as a Christian shortly before the turn of the third century. His wit and sprightly tongue made him a gifted controversialist, and he wrote extensively against the various enemies of the church. But -- like many converts -- the staid life of the official church was not sufficient for him. He wanted a return to prophecy. After some years of trying and failing to restore the spiritual nature of the Catholic church, he became a Montanist (c. 207. Jerome reports on this explicitly: "Remaining a presbyter of the church until... middle age, ...Tertullian was, by the envy and false treatment of the Roman clergy, driven to embrace the opinions of Montanus, which he has mentioned... under the title "The New Prophecy"). This in turn apparently wore thin for him, and in his last years he seems to have tried to form an independent congregation. Last heard from around 220, he probably died shortly thereafter.
No list of Tertullian's works is extant, but historians have identified at least 43 titles. Of these, all or part of 31 survive. Some of these, however, date from after he left the Catholic church. Even so, Cyprian called him "the Master," and made it a policy to read from his works every day.
Tertullian's text is somewhat problematic, as he wrote in Latin but apparently used primarily Greek texts which he translated himself. (So, at least, some moderns; Sanday and Souter thought he used both Greek and Latin texts, but primarily the latter, perhaps of a type similar to the Old Latin b.) His text is therefore rather unique. It contains its fair share of "Western" readings, but also some characteristic of other types, and some that stand alone (though these occasionally seem to have corrupt descendents in other text-types). The extent to which these are truly readings that he knew (as opposed to paraphrases that sprang from his fertile pen) is hard to determine. In using his quotations from other authors, such as Marcion, it is always important to remember that Tertullian was willing to paraphrase, or even put words in his sources' mouths. Robert M. Grant notes, "He touched almost nothing which he did not exaggerate." [20CE, AA, AS, Eus, HC, GG]
Theodore of Mopsuestia. d. 428. Greek. Merk: Thd.
Born in Antioch around the middle of the fourth century, he studied rhetoric and literature before devoting his attention entirely to Biblical studies. He became Bishop of Mopsuestia in 392. He wrote a number of commentaries and other works, but only a small fraction of these have survived, sometimes in catenae. The reason for this is not hard to find: He was later declared a heretic. Although no doubts were cast on him during his life, Nestorius had studied under him, and the teacher was tarred by the brush applied to the student. (Theodore may have been a heretic, but the problem was perhaps simply one of language.) Soon after his death in 428, we find Marius Mercator calling him the father of Pelagianism (431). In 435, Hesychius of Jerusalem and Cyril of Alexandria levelled charges. The Emperor quashed the suggestion at the time, but Theodore continued to attract condemnation. His writings were formally cast out at the Council of Constantinople in 553. [20CE, AA]
Theodoret of Cyrrhus. V. Greek. Nestle: Thret. Merk: Thdt.
Born late in the fourth century in Antioch, he became a monk and was reluctantly consecrated Bishop of Cyrrhus in 423 (he probably wasn't much past thirty). Relatively soft on Nestorianism (he tried to avoid condemning Nestorius at the Council of Chalcedon in 451), he was the first vigorous opponent of Eutychianism. As a result, he was deposed without a hearing at the "Robber Council" of 449 -- only to be restored at Chalcedon in 451. In addition to writings on these subjects (which have probably been supplemented by pseudonymous works) he wrote a commentary on the Pauline Epistles and on large portions of the Old Testament. He died around 466, although controversies continued to swirl about him for many decades.
Theodotus II. Greek. Merk: Thdot.
From the information in Merk it is not clear if this is Theodotus the Gnostic, a Valentinian, or Theodotus/Theodorus of Byzantium, a developer of dynamic Monarchianism (who was excommunicated by Victor of Rome in 198).
Theophilus of Alexandria. d. 412. Greek. Nestle: Theoph.
Successor of Athanasius as Bishop of Alexandria, and like Athanasius, an opponent of heresy. His work was more political than theological, however. Cyril of Alexandria was his nephew. His citations are too few to really characterize his text, although it would seem likely that it is Alexandrian. [20CE]
Theophilus of Antioch. II. Greek. Merk: Theoph (also Thph?)
Born in Mesopotamia, Eusebius lists him as the sixth Bishop of Antioch "from the Apostles." His only surviving work is the three-volume set To Autolycus which describes the rudiments of Christianity. (Of the surviving manuscripts, one is a copy of the other; another manuscript, examied by Gesner, in now lost.) Eusebius describes him as fighting heresy (in part by authoring a work The Heresy of Hermogenes Answered) and writing instructional manuals. His theology was somewhat limited, however, and tinged by gnostic elements. It placed relatively little stress on Jesus. [20CE, AA, Eus]
Titus of Bostra. IV. Greek. Nestle: Tit. Merk: Tit
Author of a commentary in the form of sermons on Luke. It survives only partly in quotations and catenae. He also wrote a work against the Manichaeans; this exists primarily in Syriac. Little is known of his life save that he was Bishop of Bostra and died before 378.
Tyconius. IV. Latin. Nestle: Tyc. Merk: Ty (also Tyc?)
A member of the Donatists (the party that opposed letting those who lapsed from the faith during persecutions back into the church on easy terms). He died some time after 390. He wrote a commentary on the Apocalypse that survives primarily in quotations by Beatus, and a study of Donatism, Bellum Intestinum. In addition, we have a Book of Rules. His text is Old Latin. [AA, CH]
Valentinians. II. Merk: Val
A Gnostic group founded by Valentinus in the second century. Valentinus spent time in Rome (c. 135-160), but the center of the cult was in Egypt. Valentinus and his followers (such as Ptolemaeus, Heracleon, and Theodotus) created a system which began with "Depth" and "Silence" and involved thirty aeons of which Wisdom was the youngest and the mother of Jesus. (Trust me, I'm not making this up, just expressing it in very short form.) Details vary, but the heresy was strong enough to have provoked reactions from Irenæus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. (Of course, the accuracy of those authors' discussions of the sect is questionable.) Much of their system is now known from the writings at Nag Hammadi.
contra Varimadum arianum. IV/V. Latin. Merk: Var
An anti-Arian work probably to be dated in the period 445-480. The compiler is unknown; Vigilius of Thapsus and Idacius Clarus of Ossonuba have been mentioned.
Victor of Vita. fl. 486. Latin. Merk: VictV
Bishop of Vita in Africa. His known work is the Historia persecutionis Africanæ provincia.
Victorinus of Pettau. d. 304. Latin. Nestle: Vic. Merk: Vict
Victorinus was an inhabitant of Poetovio, Pannonia (now known as Pettau, Styria). Little is known of his early life, but he is known to have died in Diocletian's persecution. He wrote commentaries on many books -- mostly in the Old Testament; in the New, he seems to have written only on Matthew and the Apocalypse. It is the last-named which has survived; it is also one of the sources used by Primasius and Beatus, and a modified version was propagated by Jerome. His Latin style is curious; several scholars think his native language was Greek.
Vigilius of Thapsus. V. Latin. Nestle: Vig. Merk: Vig
Bishop of Thapsus in Africa; died after 484. He wrote to combat various heresies. He has been mentioned as a possible author of the contra Varimadum arianum. Several other works have also been attributed to him by the "Pseudo Vigilius."
de vocatione omnium gentium. V. Merk: Voc
Zeno of Verona. IV. Latin. Merk: Zeno
A Mauretanian, Bishop of Verona from 362 to 371/2.
The table below is intended as a rough indicator of which Fathers are most widely quoted in the current Nestle text. (I say "rough" because there are a handful of fathers -- e.g. Lactantius and Vigilius -- that NA27 claims to cite, but I have been unable to locate the citations.)
The table below gives equivalent data for Merk. Unless marked L, figures are for the Greek apparatus. Note that some writers are cited in both the Greek and Latin apparatuses.
The first problem in dealing with the Fathers is order: Except for a few commentaries, the Fathers don't quote the New Testament chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Instead, they cite passages as they are useful in whatever argument they are making. So we must endeavor to sort out their citations into an orderly whole. This is not really a problem with their texts, but it means that significant effort must be undertaken to use their witness.
The second problem is one of accuracy of citation. Most fathers did not refer to manuscripts when they quoted scripture. They just used the wording they remembered. And they did not always remember accurately. Even if they did recall the passage with precision, they might omit or paraphase part of it for effect.
And, finally, there is the problem of transmission. We no more have the original manuscript of Irenaeus or Tertullian than we have the original autographs of the New Testament itself. Often the textual transmission of the Father's writings has been troubled. Before we can rely on their testimony, we must subject it to textual criticism itself.
Why, then, do we bother with such difficuly sources of information? Because the Fathers, unlike manuscripts or versions, can be so precisely located. In most instances, we know with fair precision both where and when a particular author wrote. Thus, a judicious use of their testimony can allow us to localize particular readings and text-types.
In addition, many of the Fathers are early, and their texts predate all but our earliest continuous-text witnesses. They thus give us insight into a period where the history of the text would otherwise be completely dark. The earliest Greek witnesses to the "Western" text, for instance, date from the fifth century and after. The earliest Latin witnesses come from about the fourth. But in the quotations of Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, and others, we have fragments of "Western" texts going as far back as the second century.
Taking all this into account, we can establish the following rules for using the evidence of the Fathers:
It is hard to imagine a summation of both the strengths and weaknesses of patristic evidence more succinct than Ehrman's: "Patristic sources provide primary evidence for the history of the text but only secondary evidence for the original text itself" (Didymus the Blind and the Text of the Gospels, p. 5).
Thanks to all the folks who came forward with information for this article, including Ulrich Schmid, Jean Valentin, Christopher Eyton, and Vincent Broman.
Abbreviations used to indicate sources include:
Note: The larger portion of this work was completed before I started listing sources, and I am still reconstructing the materials. So for any given entry, many sources may have been consulted which are not listed.