Skip to Main Content

Patristics / Patrology -- The Early Church Fathers & Their Writings: Primary Sources --Original Languages

Grounded in the teachings and passion of Jesus Christ, early Christian theologians studied Jewish thought, Greek philosophy, and Greek and Latin vocabulary in their endeavor to explain complex Christian theological concepts.

Writings of the Fathers

These series are scholarly tools in Greek, Latin, and  modern European languages.  For English translations - see tab above called "Primary Sources--English Translations."

Original Languages

There have been many editions of the texts of the early Church Fathers over time.

If you know French, you can use the prestigious Sources Chretiennes series, which contain both Latin texts and new French translations.

If you know Latin, you can use the Patrologia Latina; if you know Greek, you can use the Patrologia Graeca.  But don't be downhearted if you don't know Latin or Greek.  Good translations work well for most purposes.  And, if you like, you can take classes here at UST to learn these languages, which are key to the study of early Chruch history.

Primary Source Collections

Primary Source Collections  - you will find connections to the following sources on the left side of this page....

The most important source collection of hagiographical works (works about saints' lives) is Acta Sanctorum. However, it is supplemented by a number of other important sources. The most historically significant collections of patristic and other religious writings are Migne's Patrologia Latina and Patrologiae Graecae. However, the writings in these collections are often uncritical and filled with errors. The newer, critical Corpus Christianorum series and other critical collections largely supersede the Migne collections. Both of the Migne collections as well as the Corpus Christianorum are available in online versions, although these versions can be difficult to use and are currently incomplete.

  1. Acta Sanctorum

A vast collection of the biographies of saints, including their writings, with commentary and annotations. Arranged by saints' days. Index in v. 62.

      2. Patrologiae cursus completus by J.P. Migne 

 Includes both the Patrologia Latina (and Supplementum) and the Patrologiae Graecae. It has to some extent been superseded by the Corpus Christianorum. Contains some errors and poor editions.

  • Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Latina.  Supplementum. By J.P. Migne. Supplements flawed and missing texts in Patrologia Latina.

  • Patrologia Latina. Jacques-Paul Migne's Patrologia Latina comprises the works of the Church Fathers from Tertullian in 200 CE to the death of Pope Innocent III in 1216. 

  • Patrologiae Graecae (or Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca) is an edited collection of writings by the Christian Church Fathers and various secular writers, in the ancient Koine or medieval variants of the Greek language. It consists of 161 volumes produced in 1857–1866 by J. P. Migne's Imprimerie Catholique. It includes both the Eastern Fathers and those Western authors who wrote before Latin became predominant in the Western Church in the 3rd century, e.g. the early writings collectively known as the Apostolic Fathers, such as the Epistles of Clement and the Shepherd of Hermas, Eusebius, and Origen; and the Cappadocian Fathers Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa.

 3.    Corpus Christianorum.

Turnhout, Belgium : Typographi Brepols, 1953-73.Critical texts for early Christian authors. Designed to supplant Migne's Patrologiae cursus completus with new critical texts of the best of those currently extant. Texts principally in Latin and Greek, with occasional works in Coptic, Syriac, Arabic, etc.; introduction and commentary in French, German, English, Italian, or Latin, depending on the volume's editor. Subseries for medieval history include Series Latina and Continuatio mediaevalis.

      4.  Corpus scriptorium ecclesiasticorum Latinorum.

Supplements the Corpus Christianorum with texts from late Antiquity and the very early Middle Ages. Abbreviated as CSEL, this work of German scholarship covers the Latin writers. Referred to as the Vienna Corpus, each volume includes an introduction to the text, bibliographical notes, and indexes of names, places, and subjects.

  1. Library of Latin Texts Online: Series A and Series B.

A major database for Latin texts. It contains texts from the beginning of Latin literature (Livius Andronicus, 240 BC) through to the texts of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). It covers all the works from the classical period, the most important patristic works, a very extensive corpus of Medieval Latin literature as well as more recent works including texts from the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Here the complete works of writers such as Cicero, Virgil, Augustine, Jerome, or Gregory the Great, etc., can be searched. The texts have been taken from the Corpus Christianorum series and from many other leading editions.

  1. Sources Chrétiennes 

An important series of critical editions with commentaries published in France beginning in 1941. Greek/Latin on left side; French translation on right side. Primary focus is on authors from the 6th century and earlier, but more recent editions include later works.

  1. Clavis Patrum Graecorum/ cura et studio Mauritii Geerard. 

The series aims to contain a list of all the Fathers of the Church who wrote in Greek from the 1st to the 8th centuries. For each it lists all their works, whether genuine or not, extant or not. The text is in Latin. 

  1. Clavis patrum Latinorum by Eligius Dekkers. Ed.

A list of all the Christian Latin texts from Tertullian in the second century to Bede. Each work is properly identified, and the best editions are noted, as are the newly found manuscripts, etc.

 9. Thesaurus Linguae Graecae

The TLG is the major resource for searching and analyzing Greek texts of the classical, patristic, and medieval eras. A digital collection of most literary texts written in Greek from Homer to the fall of Byzantium in 1453 C.E. TLG currently provides access to 3,700 authors and 12,000 works.

  1. Literatures of the World in English Translation: A Bibliography: Volume 1: The Greek and Latin Literatures. Editors: George B. Parks and Ruth Z. Temple. 

See the sections such as "Greek Christian Literature to 300 A.D.", "Christian Writers: A.D. 300 to 900", Latin Christian Writers to 450 A.D." for translations of these texts into English. 

    11. Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte.

 German. Many volumes since 1897-continuing. Abbreviated GCS. The most important collection of Greek patristic texts.

Abbreviations for Major Patristic Series

Abbreviations for Major Patristic Series used in Library Indexes

Ancient Christian Writers (ACW) 

The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ANF)

The Apostolic Fathers

The Classics of Western Spirituality (CWS)

Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina (CCSL)

The Faith of the Early Fathers, 3 volumes

The Fathers of the Church

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers-Series I (NPNF)

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series II (NPNF)

Patrologia Cursus Completus, Series Graeca (PG)

Patrologia Cursus Completus, Series Latina (PL)

Library of Christian Classics, (volumes 1-13)

1. Acta Sanctorum

2. Patrologiae cursus completus / Latina & Graecae

3. Corpus Christianorum

This print series seeks to update the works of Migne and create critical editions reflecting contemporary scholarship and research. Each volume provides introductory material and a description of the manuscript tradition.

4. Corpus scriptorium ecclesiasticorum Latinorum.

5. Library of Latin texts (Online)

Ireland Library subscribes to the online version (A & B series)

6. Sources Chrétiennes

7. Clavis Patrum Graecorum

8. Clavis Patrum Latinorum

9. Thesaurus Linguae Graecae Online


The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae is a digital library of Greek literature currently including most literary texts written in Greek from Homer to the fall of Byzantium. More than 3,800 authors and in excess of 12,000 full-text works are included. The database provides information about the names, dates, geographical origins, and descriptive epithets for each author, together with detailed bibliographical information about existing text editions for each work.

Users can search the full database, limit searches by Author, Work or Publication, or browse a selected Author (e.g., Homerus) from an alphabetical menu. Advanced Search permits combination of different terms in one search.

Dates covered

8 BC - 1453 AD.

10. Literatures of the World in English Translation: A Bibliography: Volume 1: The Greek and Latin Literatures.

Documenta Catholica Omnia

For the experienced searcher only!

Documenta Catholica Omnia

This intimidating and difficult site provides the full text of many very hard to find church documents, like a full set of council documents known as Mansi

Other Library Research Guides