by Philip Schaff
Encouraged by the assured co-operation of competent Patristic scholars of Great Britain and the United States, I have undertaken the general editorship of a Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. It is to embrace in about twenty-five large volumes the most important works of the Greek Fathers from Eusebius to Photius, and of the Latin Fathers from Ambrose to Gregory the Great. The series opens with St. Augustin, the greatest and most influential of all the Christian Fathers. Protestants and Catholics are equally interested in his writings, and most of all in his Confessions, which are contained in this volume. They will be followed by the works of St. Chrysostom, and the Church History of Eusebius. A few words are necessary to define the object of this Library, and its relation to similarcollections.
My purpose is to furnish ministers and intelligent laymen who have no access to the original texts, or are not sufficiently familiar with ecclesiastical Greek and Latin, with a complete apparatus for the study of ancient Christianity. Whatever may be the estimate we put upon the opinions of the Fathers, their historical value is beyond all dispute. They are to this day and will continue to be the chief authorities for the doctrines and usages of the Greek and Roman Churches, and the sources for the knowledge of ancient Christianity down to the age of Charlemagne. But very few can afford to buy, or are able to use such collections as Migne’s Greek Patrology, which embraces 167 quarto volumes, and Migne’s Latin Patrology which embraces 222 volumes.
The three leaders of the now historic Anglo-Catholic movement of Oxford, Drs. Pusey, Newman, and Keble, began, in 1837, the publication of “A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, anterior to the Division of the East and West. Translated by Members of the English Church,” Oxford (John Henry Parker) and London (J. G. F. & J. Rivington). It is dedicated to “William Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England.” The editors were aided by a number of able classical and ecclesiastical scholars. Dr. Pusey, the chief editor and proprietor, and Dr. Keble died in the communion of the church of their fathers to which they were loyally attached; Dr. Newman alone remains, though no more an Anglican, but a Cardinal of the Church of Rome. His connection with the enterprise ceased with his secession (1845).