The Fathers of the Church

A Comprehensive Introduction

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"An excellent gateway into the writings of the Fathers. . . . Drobner succeeds in bringing his subject matter to life, rendering the Fathers accessible, interesting, and even occasionally humorous. Those wanting to look deeper will be well served by the bibliographies. . . . Essential reading for people working in this field."--Journal for the Study of the New Testament Booklist
Good, solid, contemporary introductions to patristic authors and writings are difficult to find in the English-speaking world, and European volumes are expensive. This volume, which is Siegfried Schatzmann's translation of Lehrbuch der Patrologie, offers English-speaking readers easy access to Hubertus R. Drobner's traditional introduction to early Christian thought.

Hubertus R. Drobner brings patristics scholarship up to date in this traditional introduction. His work is sufficiently broad to be a useful summary of early Christian history and the expansive strokes of doctrinal debate and development and provides a clear presentation of early Christian thought.

Drobner introduces new materials throughout this recently updated edition of his handbook. A general map and several timetables add to the clarity of the volume.

The Fathers of the Church is valuable in its presentation of contemporary studies and views. Patristics students will benefit from this dependable overview of early Christian texts, and scholars and libraries will appreciate the extensive bibliography, indexes, and other resources.

The Authors

  1. Hubertus R. Drobner

    Hubertus R. Drobner

    Hubertus R. Drobner (DD, University of Oxford) is chair of church history in the Theological Faculty at the University of Paderborn, Germany.

    Continue reading about Hubertus R. Drobner

  2. Siegfried S. Schatzmann

    Siegfried S. Schatzmann

    Continue reading about Siegfried S. Schatzmann


"This is an English translation by Siegfried Schatzmann of the German book Lehrbuch der Patrologie by Hubertus R. Drobner, which was originally published in 1994 with some corrected, revised, and additional material added by Drobner and William Harmless, SJ. This book is an introduction and bibliography of the writings of the Fathers of the Church and other early Christian writings. . . . This book is highly recommended for seminaries and schools of theology due to its price and the amount of information it provides."--American Reference Books Annual

"A rich resource book. . . . Within separate historical periods, readers will find focuses on themes, particular church fathers, and the fathers' various texts. Each focus offers a wealth of bibliographical material. . . . This is an easy-to-use ready reference for students and scholars alike. Drobner . . . also provides an effective overview of the salient themes of the early Christian centuries. He offers good, very readable introductions to the various church fathers with respect to their historical context and theological significance. Useful indexes of subjects and of ancient sources again enable quick access for readers with particular research interests. Finally, one of the book's most distinctive features is the chapter on independent bodies of literature, which offers resources on Syrians, Egyptians, Armenians, and Arabs. This will be an important work for serious students and scholars of early Christianity. Its reasonable price and its comprehensiveness within a single volume mean that it will be valuable in a wide variety of libraries. . . . Highly recommended. Graduate students and above."--Choice

"I can highly recommend this book to both teachers and students in schools of theology and seminaries due to its comparatively moderate price and the amount of information provided in just 600 pages. . . . I am convinced that this volume will become the normative contemporary source to be first consulted by those seeking further information about the Fathers."--Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

"A well-known and widely used introduction (already translated into Italian, French, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese) now appears in English dress as an adapted, expanded, and updated version of the 1994 German original. . . . A welcome and very useful reference work that should be widely used."--Religious Studies Review

"Now comes Drobner, and the long-sought replacement for Altaner has arrived. More comprehensive than McGuckin; handier than Ferguson, Quasten, Di Berardino and Moreschini; more accurate than Döpp and Geerlings: this is a gem worthy to be Altaner's noble successor. . . . Every major Christian figure from Clement of Rome to John of Damascus is surveyed. A brief overview of each figure's life is the entree to standard bibliographical surveys, followed by summaries of select major works. Hence, Drobner is an updated version of Altaner in one volume. It is the current worthy addition to the scholar pastor's library who wants a handy overview of the fathers. . . . The explosion of patristic research over the past fifty years makes tools such as those listed above essential to the study of the church fathers. As entry level works, they orient the reader to the person, his theology and to his writings. They are welcome helpers in tracing out the history of doctrine, as well as the history of the (early) Christian church to the 7th century. We commend the publishers for making this volume available to a wider audience auf Englisch."--Kerux

"Drobner provides an overview of the most important Church Fathers, their work, and themes, all helpfully located in their historical, political, and ecclesiastical background. The book is aptly described as 'comprehensive': Drobner starts with the biblical apocrypha and traces the Fathers through to the mid-eighth century, before concluding with Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian and Georgian writings. Most authors, or their individual works, get a couple of pages each with a bibliography for further reading. The General Bibliography includes dictionaries, encyclopaedias, patrologies, series of editions of the Fathers, translations, reference works, manuals, journals, monograph series, microfiches, electronic databanks and collections of internet addresses. Originally published in German (1994), this edition incorporates the continuous process of revision that has taken place as the book has been translated into five other languages. . . . This is an excellent gateway into the writings of the Fathers: succinct introductions provide swift and accurate orientation for newcomers. Drobner succeeds in bringing his subject matter to life, rendering the Fathers accessible, interesting, and even occasionally humorous. Those wanting to look deeper will be well served by the bibliographies. . . . Essential reading for people working in this field."--Journal for the Study of the New Testament Booklist

"This is a praiseworthy project. It presents an excellent introduction for the layman in patristics, is a consultation reference work for all who study patristics, and is even a useful handbook for teachers in patristics."--Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses

"This publication will be welcomed by all those looking for a one-volume survey of the key authors and works within this period and the bibliographies will be particularly helpful for those interested in a more advanced study. The complexities of writing, editing, and updating such a book are not to be underestimated. However, Drobner is successful in producing an 'introduction' that frequently also provides a significant amount of detail and analysis of the topics and the key points needed to more adequately appreciate them."--Theoforum

"Along with a wealth of material, the author provides a nearly all-inclusive bibliography. . . . Furthermore, this volume includes expansions and updating both in the text and bibliographies. Drobner's work, therefore, represents a desire for comprehensiveness both in the material covered and in providing the most recent material available. . . . Any reader interested in the patristic era (approximately 100-750) will find Drobner's patrology an essential text. In it comprehensiveness in all areas it is a complete guide on a myriad of topics. Furthermore, the author's concise presentation keeps one from becoming bogged down. . . . [Drobner's] arrangement by eras and topics helps provide clarity to the major themes and developments in the ancient church's doctrine. Thanks are due to Siegfried Schatzmann for his success in making Drobner's patrology available in English."--Robert W. Bernard, Southwestern Journal of Theology

"This substantial but not unwieldy volume represents the English edition of Hubertus Drobner's well-received textbook, Lehrbuch der Patrologie. . . . The English edition is in fact more than a translation of the German original and is enriched by the many revisions and minor additions that were noted in the process of translating the book into five other modern languages. . . . William Harmless, SJ . . . undertook the daunting task of updating and adapting the bibliographies for the English reader. . . . Drobner's forte is his ability to synthesize scholarship. . . . Students and lecturers alike will benefit from Drobner's expert synopses. . . . Drobner's textbook is the only single-volume patrology available today that is affordably priced, up to date, and easy to use. The Fathers of the Church should be an assigned textbook in every undergraduate introductory course in the field."--Jonathan J. Armstrong, Calvin Theological Journal