Christianity Knowledge Base

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, subtitled "The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325", is a collection of books in 10 volumes (one volume is indexes) containing English translations of the majority of Early Christian writings. The period covers the beginning of Christianity until before the promulgation of the Nicene Creed at the First Council of Nicaea. The translations are very faithful, but sometimes rather old-fashioned.


The series was originally published between 1867 and 1873 by the Presbyterian publishing house T. & T. Clark in Edinburgh under the title Ante-Nicene Christian Library, as a response to the Oxford movement's Library of the Fathers which was perceived as too catholic. The volumes were edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. This series was available by subscription but the editors were unable to interest enough subscribers to commission a translation of the homilies of Origen.

In 1885 a US firm, the Christian Literature Company, first of Buffalo, then New York, began to issue the volumes in a reorganised form, edited by the episcopalian bishop of New York, A. Cleveland Coxe. Coxe gave his "new" series the title: The Ante-Nicene Fathers.

In 1896, the American edition/revision was complete. In 1897, the volume 9 of this one which contained new translations, was published by T. & T. Clark as an additional volume to complete the original ANCL.

Apart of this volume 9, the contents entirely derived thus from the ANCL, but in a more chronological order. However Coxe took the liberty to add his own introductions and notes, which were criticised by many academic authories as well as Roman Catholic reviewers.

Surely convinced by the commercial success of the cheaper American version/revision of the ANCL - although of lesser quality on some minor points - the T. & T. Clark get associated with the Christian Literature Company and with others American editors for the publication of sequel: Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.


The volumes include the following:

Volume I. Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus

Writings. Didache

Volume II. Fathers of the Second Century

Volume III. Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian

  • I. Apologetic
  • II. Anti-Marcion
  • III. Ethical

Volume IV. The Fathers of the Third Century

  • Tertullian IV. More Ethical writings; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen

Volume V. The Fathers of the Third Century

  • Hippolytus; Cyprian; Caius; Novatian; Appendix

Volume VI. The Fathers of the Third Century

  • Gregory Thaumaturgus; Dionysius the Great; Sextus Julius Africanus; Anatolius and Minor Writers; Methodius of Olympus; Arnobius

Volume VII. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries

  • Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus of Pettau, Dionysius of Corinth, Apostolic Constitutions, Homily, Liturgies, Liturgy of St James,

Volume VIII. Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries

Volume IX. Recently Discovered Additions to Early Christian Literature; Commentaries of Origen

  • The Gospel of Peter, The Diatessaron of Tatian, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Visio Pauli, The Apocalypses of the Virgin and Sedrach, The Testament of Abraham, The Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, The Narrative of Zosimus, The Apology of Aristides, The Epistles of Clement (Complete Text), Origen's Commentary on John, Books I-X, Origen's Commentary on Mathew, Books I, II, and X-XIV

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