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Pop Go the Fathers

Kevin at Biblicalia has posted a very helpful overview of the Popular Patristics Series published by Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press. I like the series — and I love the price — though some (very few) volumes’ introductions are marred by an anti-Roman edge that’s unnecessary and counter-productive. (This problem does not affect much of the series, which includes the work of outstanding Catholic scholars, including Robert Louis Wilken and Father Brian Daley, S.J.) Kevin gives us a list of the works included in each volume and other useful details.

4 thoughts on “Pop Go the Fathers

  1. I’ve just finished the list. I hope folks find it useful!

  2. I have a question, oh mighty patristics scholar. I just read this CCEL article on St. Hilary of Potiers:

    In it, it says that until the 4th century, the word sacerdos in Latin was generally used to mean Bishop, not priest. What do you think of this shift in meaning in the term sacerdos, and how does one come to grips with it, if it occurred?

    This raises an interesting question about the development of tradition regarding bishops and priests. Would it be true to say that the “distribution of communion by priests” (as referenced in the article, making priests in the first to fourth centuries somewhat like EMHCs nowadays) was replace later, by a notion of priests “celebrating mass” completely on their own?

    Just wondering, what would St. Hilary make of today’s Catholic Church?


  3. Mighty? Scholar? I want what you’re drinking, Warren.

    In the letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107 AD) we find that the Eucharist was only to be offered by the bishop or his delegate (presumably the presbyters). The bishop was certainly the “high priest.” Today we say he has the “fullness of holy orders.” But the priests and deacons, then as now, share in the clerical state. As the Church grew, it became necessary for the ordinary celebration of the Mass to fall to the presbyters.

    The Greek Fathers got it. As far back as Clement of Rome (67 AD?), but especially in the later documents called “church orders,” we find the ranks of Christian clergy compared the the high priest, priests, and levites of the Old Testament.

    I hope this answers the question in your next-to-last paragraph.

    I don’t know what St. Hilary would make of today’s Catholic Church. I suspect he would think of it exactly as he thought of the fourth-century Catholic Church, with all its glories and all its struggles. I see no substantial differences.

  4. Warren,
    I was (and still am) a little fuzzy on the meaning of your question about extraordinary minsters of the Eucharist. There are examples of this happening in the pre-Nicene Church — famously, the story of St. Tarsicius and the incident in the letter of St. Dionysius of Alexandria. Both accounts involve boys or young men distributing the Eucharist in extraordinary circumstances.

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