A Latin Patristic Reader?

If you want to read a nice selection of Greek patristics with some helps, there’s Rodney Whitacre’s 2007 A Greek Patristic Reader, which I had until recently forgotten that I owned. If you want to read Latin, tough luck, no one will help you.

Hence a recent tweet asking if there were anything, and the silence that followed.

I’ve been thinking, and tinkering, towards doing a Patristic Reader volume in Latin, but it’s been slow and neglected. One of the problems is work-flow. Latin has a lot more ambiguity in its endings, and this impacts the way I create vocabulary lists. For Greek, I can usually parse most forms in isolation. The only common confusion in Greek is between a 3rd singular verb ει and a cognate 3rd declension dative noun in ει. Latin, not so, so many forms could be either noun or verb, and have several options between them. Only context helps sort them out, but that reverses the process that I currently use to create the vocabulary lists.

Anyway, what if we made a Latin Patristic Reader?

Since I like side-projects and never-going-to-bed, I started to scrounge up a way to generate a suitable ‘selection’ of texts. There are 4 books of interest:

Willis, Collectanea Graeca et Latina 1865 – has a range of patristic selections in both languages

H.M. Gwatkins, Selections from Early Writers illustrative of Church History to the Time of Constantine 1897 – with texts in both languages and translations

R. Maloney, Selections from the Latin Fathers, 1900 – relatively brief but with selections from 6 Latin Fathers

Crehan, The Osterley Selection from the Latin Fathers, 1968 – too recent for me to get a public domain scan.


There might be more, and if you have them, I’d love to hear from you. My rough plan is to collate these selections and then start a slow process of ‘reader-ising’ them. I will probably invert the vocabularisaton process that I use though. I’ll release individual texts as free-standing pdfs as I go.

4 responses

  1. FWIW, there are a few Medieval Latin readers that possess some Patristic Latin. Harrington’s Medieval Latin has been republished in a 2nd edn, and there’s Godley’s Medieval Mosaic (lots of Patristic stuff). Some intermediate commentaries exist for Augustine. Campbell and McGuire’s Confessions is still quite useful (hooray for my alma mater there). P.G. Walsh has done a lot of De civitate dei.

    I don’t have personal experience with any of these other than the Campbell’s Confessions, and I don’t think any are readers in the format of Pharr, but they might be useful either for ideas or as stop-gaps.

  2. It’s not a reader, exactly, but H.P.V. Nunn’s Introduction to Ecclesiastical Latin does have some reading selections at the back after the grammar overview. Alex, is there a free digital edition of Campbell and McGuire’s Confessions? I’m reading it in Latin now (just started Book II).

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