Monday, November 03, 2008

An Eccentric Reading List, Part 2

We move now to the third century and beyond. For the third century, I suggest Origen On Prayer. This is a relatively short work. It gives a more positive side of Origen than we are used to seeing. And it is considered one of the classic treatises on the subject. It is available in a variety of forms, some of which are: Origen: An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer, and Selected Works, published by Paulist Press in their Classics of Western Spirituality series. This seems to be an abridgement. There is also the unabridged form in Prayer; Exhortation to Martyrdom in the Ancient Christian Writers series, also from Paulist Press. It can also be read online at

For the fourth century, I suggest Athanasius On the Incarnation. As with the other works from the fathers, it is available in a variety of formats, both in print and online. One edition, reprinted by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, has a nice introduction by C. S. Lewis.

For the fifth century, I suggest Augustine's The City of God. Augustine was the giant of the late fourth and early fifth century. He was a voluminous writer and had a towering intellect. Most people recommend people to read his Confessions. I don't disregard them, but The City of God was written as the Roman Empire was falling apart. It is part apologetics, part systematic theology, part ethics, part biblical theology, part theology of history. It is available in abridged form, but I really think that any minister ought to work through the whole thing. Though many editions are available, my recommendation is the edition published by Penguin Classics and translated by Henry Bettenson.

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