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The Early Church in Late Antiquity: A Select

The Early Church in Late Antiquity: A Select Introductory Bibliography


Compiled by Bernadette McNary-Zak


Welcome. The period of late antiquity was one of intense struggle for self-definition in the early church. The codification of canon and liturgical practice and the rise of ecclesiastical councils to formalize institutional structure and to formulate official statements of ‘orthodox’ Christian doctrine reflect public efforts to determine the identity of the church. The role of imperial authority in matters of the church was intimately tied to these efforts; both the embracing of Christianity by emperors like Constantine, and Justinian, and the denouncing of Christianity by emperors like Diocletian and Julian, had immediate consequences for the church. Efforts to define Christian identity are further found in an emergent holiness and piety. Ascetic and monastic practice developed as the "new Christian martyrdom." The rise of pilgrimage served to bind Christians in the East and West. Efforts to mirror Christian values, practices, and doctrine are found in the many forms of Christian art and architecture from this period. The emergence of a large body of Christian literature in this period enables the historian to imagine the nature of the struggle for self-definition; available literary source material from Christian and non-Christian authors includes, but is not restricted to, theological treatises, letters, ecclesiastical histories, sermons, discourses, apologetic, and hagiography.

Study and discussion of the early church in late antiquity is necessarily multi-faceted. This bibliography offers the student a listing of some of the seminal primary and secondary sources. For this reason, I have selected books in English that are readily accessible, that serve as general studies, and that contain their own bibliographies for further inquiry.


Source Collections

Bettenson, H., ed. The Early Christian Fathers. Oxford University Press, 1969.

_____. The Later Christian Fathers. Oxford University Press, 1969.

Quasten, J. and J.C. Plumpe, eds. Ancient Christian Writers. London: Longmans , 1946-75.

Roberts, A. and J. Donaldson, eds. Ante-Nicene Christian Library, ed. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1867-72.

Schaff, P. and H. Wace, eds. A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Oxford, 1887-92.




Reference Works

Chadwick, Henry and G. R. Evans, eds. Atlas of the Christian Church. New York, N.Y.:Facts on File Publications, 1987.

Cornell, Tim and John Matthews. Atlas of the Roman World. New York, N.Y.: Facts on File, 1982.

Cross, F. L. and E. A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press, 1974.

Eusebius of Caesarea, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine (=The Ecclesiastical History).

Ferguson, Everett, ed. Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1990.

Jones, A. H. M. Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Cambridge University Press, 1971-1992.

Quasten, J., Patrology. 3 volumes. Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1962-4.

Young, F. From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A Guide to the Literature and its Development. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983.


Modern Surveys

Barnes, Timothy D. Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.

_____. Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Brown, Peter. Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of Christianisation of the Roman World. Cambridge University Press, 1995.

_____. Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

_____. The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity. University of Chicago Press, 1981.

_____. The Making of Late Antiquity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978.

_____. Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire. University of Wisconsin Press, 1992.

_____. The World of Late Antiquity. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971.

Cameron, Averil. Christianity and the rhetoric of empire: the development of Christian discourse. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

_____. The later Roman empire. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993.

_____. The Mediteranean World in Late Antiquity, AD 395-600. New York:Routledge, 1993.

Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. The Pelican History of the Church, vol. 1; Penguin Books, 1967.

Comby, Jean. How to Read Church History, vol. 1. New York: Crossroad, 1989.

Fowden, Garth. Empire to Commonwealth: Consequences of Monotheism in Late Antiquity. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1993.

Fox, Robin Lane. Pagans and Christians. San Francisco: Harper, 1986.

Frend, W. H. C., The Early Church. London, SCM, 1982.

_____. The Rise of Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.

Hazlett, Ian, ed. Early Christianity: Origins and Evolution to A.D. 600. Nashville:Abingdon Press, 1991.

Holum, Kenneth. Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.

Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Creeds. 3rd revised edition. Longman, 1972.

_____. Early Christian Doctrines. 5th revised edition. New York: Harper & Row, 1978.

MacCormack, Sabine. Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity.

MacMullen, Ramsay. Christianizing the Roman Empire A.D. 100-400. Yale University Press, 1984.

Markus, R. A. The End of Ancient Christianity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Pelikan, J. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. Volume 1:The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). University of Chicago Press, 1971.

Ramsay, B. Beginning to Read the Fathers. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1985.

Trimmingham, J. S., Christianity among the Arabs in Pre-Islamic Times. London, 1979.

Wilken, Robert L. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them. Yale University Press, 1984.

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