Dictionary of Early Christian Literature

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Dictionary of Early Christian Literature

The long-awaited successor to Berthold Altaner's Patrologie handbook, the Dictionary of Early Christian Literature presents the life and work of Christian authors up to the eighth century and an assessment of their lasting influence on the Christian tradition.

The Dictionary offers complete and precise information as well as an updated bibliography in an easy-to-use alphabetical arrangement. Articles on authors provide a brief description of their lives, a presentation of their works, and an assessment of their influence on the Christian tradition. Other articles deal with types of works and their particular characteristics. Despite the wealth of articles, movements and developments within the centuries can be easily grasped, providing valuable insight into the formation of the Christian tradition as we understand it today.

From the book

The long-awaited successor to Berthold Altaner’s Patrologie handbook, the Dictionary of Early Christian Literature presents the life and work of Christian authors up to the eighth century and an assessment of their lasting influence on the Christian tradition. The Dictionary offers compact and precise information as well as an updated bibliography in an easy-to-use alphabetical arrangement.  Articles on authors provide a brief description of their lives, a presentation of their works, and an assessment of their influence on the Christian tradition.  Other articles deal with types of works and their particular characteristics. Despite the mass of articles, movements and developments within the centuries can easily be grasped, providing valuable insight into the formation of the Christian tradition as we understand it today.

Reviews and endorsements

This reference work contains the life and work of early Christian writers to the eighth century, and analyzes their legacy upon church history. The entries range from single paragraphs to several pages. The value of this collection is for
understanding the influence of early Christian literature upon contemporary theological development.
Journal of Dispensational Theology

,

For many years Altaner’s Patrologie served German readers as a standard handbook on early Christianity. Its publishers have updated and replaced it in dictionary form in this fine reference work now available in English translation.

The Dictionary includes numerous articles covering Christian writers of the first eight centuries, providing biographical data, summarizing their thought, and surveying the literatures they produced. Key figures (e.g., Augustine Chrysostom) receive especially comprehensive treatment. The Dictionary also treats anonymous works, literary terms, schools of thought, and such interesting topics as the ancient apocryphal literature regarding the Apostles. Articles tend to be informative, concise, and well-written. They include helpful cross-referencing and extensive bibliographies, giving information about available editions, translations, and an up-to-date list of secondary sources (with an understandable preference for German language sources).

Happily, the Dictionary does not exhibit the Western bias evident in other works; it incorporates many Eastern writers and topics. However, this Eastern focus turns out to be the only major downfall of the translation as such: O’Connell’s transliterations of non-Greek and non-Latin terms reflect a reliance on the German text rather than a direct knowledge of the Eastern languages, It is obvious that the Dictionary originated as a patrology. One must search through an article in order to discover an ancient author’s dates, when dates could have been easily provided as part of the article heading. The Dictionary includes no graphic helps, such as maps or diagrams. The index is strictly of names of ancient authors, texts, and literary topics. The Dictionary does not include articles on such topics as art or architecture, and its treatment of theological topics is sparse. It confines itself mainly to the classic items of interest and is not attuned to more recent interests in the study of early Christianity, such as hagiography-a major literary genre provoking widespread interest today that receives no treatment in the Dictionary. Nevertheless, its solid classical form and function are also its strengths, and the Dictionary fulfills its purpose admirably. It will be a welcome addition to the library of any student of early Christian literature.
Abilene Christian University

Praise for the German edition:

“…An indispensable work of reference… The volume will be very successful and gratefully used...”
Henry Chadwick, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

This reference work contains the life and work of early Christian writers to the eighth century, and analyzes their legacy upon church history. The entries range from single paragraphs to several pages. The value of this collection is for
understanding the influence of early Christian literature upon contemporary theological development.
Journal of Dispensational Theology

,

For many years Altaner’s Patrologie served German readers as a standard handbook on early Christianity. Its publishers have updated and replaced it in dictionary form in this fine reference work now available in English translation.

The Dictionary includes numerous articles covering Christian writers of the first eight centuries, providing biographical data, summarizing their thought, and surveying the literatures they produced. Key figures (e.g., Augustine Chrysostom) receive especially comprehensive treatment. The Dictionary also treats anonymous works, literary terms, schools of thought, and such interesting topics as the ancient apocryphal literature regarding the Apostles. Articles tend to be informative, concise, and well-written. They include helpful cross-referencing and extensive bibliographies, giving information about available editions, translations, and an up-to-date list of secondary sources (with an understandable preference for German language sources).

Happily, the Dictionary does not exhibit the Western bias evident in other works; it incorporates many Eastern writers and topics. However, this Eastern focus turns out to be the only major downfall of the translation as such: O’Connell’s transliterations of non-Greek and non-Latin terms reflect a reliance on the German text rather than a direct knowledge of the Eastern languages, It is obvious that the Dictionary originated as a patrology. One must search through an article in order to discover an ancient author’s dates, when dates could have been easily provided as part of the article heading. The Dictionary includes no graphic helps, such as maps or diagrams. The index is strictly of names of ancient authors, texts, and literary topics. The Dictionary does not include articles on such topics as art or architecture, and its treatment of theological topics is sparse. It confines itself mainly to the classic items of interest and is not attuned to more recent interests in the study of early Christianity, such as hagiography-a major literary genre provoking widespread interest today that receives no treatment in the Dictionary. Nevertheless, its solid classical form and function are also its strengths, and the Dictionary fulfills its purpose admirably. It will be a welcome addition to the library of any student of early Christian literature.
Abilene Christian University


Praise for the German edition:

“…An indispensable work of reference… The volume will be very successful and gratefully used...”
Henry Chadwick, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

9780824528003
Paperback / 640 pages
HERDER & HERDER, 2000

Dimensions: 7 x 10