Providing a wide array of early church writings translated into English, Faith of the Early Fathers offers excerpts of critical theological developments in the first seven centuries of Christian history. From Clement of Rome and Polycarp to Augustine and Basil, and from Chrysostom to Ambrose and Jerome, these volumes track the formation of Christian doctrine—both the orthodox and the heretical.
The passages are keyed to the numerical order established in M. J. Rouët de Journel’s Enchiridion Patristicum. But these volumes are not just a translation of that standard work. William A. Jurgens has investigated and selected the most frequently cited patristic passages, including much that is in Rouët’s volume and much that is not. All passages have been freshly and accurately translated from the best critical editions.
Each selection is prefaced with a brief introduction addressing authorship, time and place of composition, and its purpose. Each volume is thoroughly and critically indexed by doctrine, Scripture, and general terms.
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“The Church, we learned as children, has four marks by which it may be known. Coincidentally there are four marks also by which a writer is recognized as a Father of the Church: a) orthodox doctrine, b) sanctity of life, c) antiquity, and d) approval of the Church. Antiquity is easily decided. The patristic age, by common agreement, ends in the West with the death of St. Isidore of Seville in the year 636 A.D., and in the East with the death of St. John Damascene in 749 A.D.” (Volume 1, Page x)
“We, therefore, who have been called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, neither by our wisdom or understanding or piety, nor by the works we have wrought in holiness of heart,758 but by the faith by which almighty God has justified all men from the beginning:759 To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. [33, 1] What, then, shall we do,760 brethren? Shall we cease from good works, and shall we put an end to love? May the Master forbid that such should ever happen among us; rather, let us be eager to perform every good work (9) earnestly and willingly.” (Volume 1, Page 9)
“You shall not procure abortion,969 nor destroy a new-born child.” (Volume 1, Page 2)
“Those authors who do indeed belong to the patristic age, but who lack one or more of the other notes, are called Ecclesiastical Writers. Thus the writings of heretics, like Arius, are included; and of schismatics, like Novatian. The writings of non-Christians, however, are excluded.” (Volume 1, Page x)
“while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same” (Volume 1, Page 85)
William A. Jurgens (1928–1982) was an American Roman Catholic priest and historian. In 1956, Jurgens began studies in Rome at the Pontifical Music Institute, while simultaneously earning a doctorate in ecclesiastical history from Gregorian University. Almost immediately thereafter, he joined St. Mary Seminary faculty in Cleveland, and later, taught at Borromeo Seminary, in chant and liturgial music. He would go on to serve as diocesean director of sacred music in Cleveland. In 1977, he was appointed by Bishop James Hickey of Cleveland as the diocesean research historian, commissioned to compile a history of the diocese. The first volume of A History of the Diocese of Cleveland: The Prehistory of the Diocese to its Establishment in 1847 was barely finished before he passed away, and volume two was left in draft form.
Harlan P. Hock Jr