An (incomplete) guide to Journals in Patristics

One of the difficulties of Patristics as a field is that there are not many journals, and it is not necessarily so easy to get a sense of what journals there are. Certainly, compared to say New Testament studies, it is difficult.

In this post I have tried to compile an annotated list of journals that I’m aware of in the field. I would welcome your input to improve and expand this post into a useful resource for those entering the field. So please let me know what I’ve missed, and any details I should add.


Journal of Early Christian Studies

JECS is the official journal of the North American Patristics Society, and is one of the premier journals that focuses on the area of Patristics. It is published quaterly by John Hopkins University Press. Submission Guidelines here, and Editorial board here.

Vigiliae Christianae

Is the other flagship English-language journal for the field. It is published by Brill, and accepts articles in English, French, or German.

*Studia Patristica

Studia Patristica is something of a Hybrid. Since 1955 it has published conference papers from the four-yearly Oxford Patristics conference, but those papers are peer-reviewed, so it is not exactly ‘conference proceedings’ simpliciter. It is published by Peeters. A companion imprint, Studia Patristica Supplements, publishes monographs in the field.

Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum (Journal of Ancient Christianity)

A tri-annual published by De Gruyter, with articles in German, English, French, or Italian. A particular focus on interdisciplinary work on Christianity in Antiquity.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Published by Cambridge University Press, a quarterly that is very highly regarded. Article length no longer than 8000 words. The scope of the journal is not strictly limited to Late Antiquity, but the breadth of Church History.

Church History

Put out quarterly by the American Society of Church History, but published by CUP, this is more or less the US equivalent to the Journal of Ecclesiastical History (see above). Submission details can be found from this page. Article length is 6-11,000 words, so on the longer end of journal submissions.

Journal of Theological Studies

Published by Oxford University Press, twice a year. Has a fairly broad scope. Length of article is also is quite broad too

Journal of Roman Studies

JRS is another Cambridge publication. Its focus is less from the theological slant, but its diverse focus on Roman history and Latin literature provides some scope for Patristics.

American Benedictine Review

A quarterly published by the American Benedicitine Review..

Harvard Theological Review

HTR is published quarterly, also handled by CUP on behalf of Harvard. Significantly, they will not accept articles that “will likely be published as part of a book within the next three years or so”, so not a place for articles that will turn into chapters. On the other hand, their OA policy is not too bad. The purview of the journal is Theology fairly broadly, but Patristics finds its place.

Studia Monastica

Published by Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat, a European journal with a focus on monastic studies, accepts articles in a number of languages.

Theological Studies

Published by the Society of Jesus, out of Marquette University. No strict submission length, but guidelines suggest ca. 10,000 words.

Catholic Historical Review

Published by CUA Press, this is the journal of the American Catholic Historical Association. Publishes across the breadth of church history.

Scottish Journal of Theology

Also published by CUP. Average word length of 5-6000, with a hard limit of 8000. Bills itself as an ecumenical forum, covering systematic, historical and biblical theology.

Augustinian Studies

From the Augustinian Institute at Villanova University. Unsurprisingly, the focus of this journal is Augustine of Hippo, and articles focused on him, or at least topics related to him. Articles 4-8000 words.

Journal of Theological Interpretation

Published by Eisenbraums, twice a year. Started in 2007, focuses on issues related to the intersection between hermeneutics and interpretation, and the recent turn to ‘theological interpretation’, which opens up many fruitful conversation possibilities for Patristics and exegesis. Standard article length up to 7,500, but submissions up to 10,000 considered.

The Patristic and Byzantine Review

Published by the American Institute for Patristic and Byzantine Studies. I can’t find any current information for this, it may have ceased publication. The most recent volume appears to be 2012.


Academia as an Honour/Shame society

It’s blindingly obvious that Academia runs as a microcosmic honour/shame society because the one thing that ranks just below actual scholarship in scholars’ concern is prestige or honour as accorded them by their peers.

This is what drives almost all academic endeavours (beyond the actual desire to study): conference papers, journal and monograph publishing, etc..

Every act of publishing is an attempt to gain the symbolic capital of prestige among academic peers, via an act of heroism, which is the public display of scholarly prowess.

In conference format, this is open to ‘counter-claims’, where others offer criticism, questions, push-back which can provide the initiator with further opportunities to demonstrate prowess and thus increase their prestige. Alternatively, failure to respond well to interaction will render their attempt to gain honour into a shameful dismantling of their scholarly prowess, and so a loss of honour, with some corresponding gain in prestige to the interlocutor.

In journal format, the initiator likewise places forth a piece of scholarship in order to gain social prestige from their peers. The more prestigious the journal, the more honour accumulates to the scholar.

The monograph likewise, though on a greater scale. The monograph, however, invites more extended interaction in the form of reviews, etc., which provide the opportunity for counter-claims and rebuttals. However the sheer prestige-gain of a monograph usually outweighs the risk of publishing (prestige wise, not economically/monetarily).

Understanding academia in this respect also helps make sense of why academics trade off their intellectual labours to publishing houses that sell their works in closed access formats for ridiculous sums: academics trade their capital for social prestige from their peers, with a socially calculated disdain for market economics. Publishers trade on that disdain to fund their business model.

One should also remember that prestige and quality are not synonymous. Prestige operates as a short-hand calculator for quality: i.e. scarcity economics means that in theory the best material ends up in the best journals, presses, etc., but in reality the system is rigged to social-networks that promote internally correlated scholars and scholarship, so that quality and prestige may actually be divorced from each other. A top-quality scholar who is not socially connected lacks the pre-requisite social capital to gain the prestige that their work ‘deserves’.

More scattered reflections from Oxford

I hope you don’t mind these rambling conference dispatches:

Day 3 at Oxford Patristics. I enjoyed some interesting papers on Gregory of Nyssa. It’s always tricky at a conference to go to papers that are not directly tied to your interests, but are tied enough that you will (hopefully) learn something new and broaden your understanding. Hearing a paper that quite directly touches on your interests, that’s a rare find!

I went to one paper about the debates among Evangelicals over Eternal Functional Subordinationism, which was (and still is a bit) a hot topic for some sectors of Evangelicals. This paper was looking at how accurately both sides have read Augustine. I had hoped for more from it, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.

I spent some more time with the Digital Humanities session, and then sat around with a few powerhouses of DH afterwards. It was fascinating and enlightening to listen to them bounce ideas of each other in this intersection of geekdom and humanities/classics/patristics.

One of the great things about conferences is those moments when you realise that (most?) scholars are just like you: whenever one thinks about one’s own work there are many caveats, insecurities, and sense that it’s only barely ‘just there’; whenever you think about someone else’s, you assume there is this huge wealth and depth of knowledge of everything that backs it up. No, usually they’re just barely there like you. It’s comforting. I mean, sometimes there is a vast knowledge of everything, and that’s both scary and good. And sometimes there’s people who act like they have a vast repository of all knowledge, and you should just not worry about those people and move on with your life.

Part of me feels like I could write a series of posts deconstructing imperial and academic culture and empire of Americans, but this is probably not the time or the place.

Here are things that make conference life better (not just this one):


  1. Have a clear structure to your paper
  2. Have a clear handout for your paper
  3. Talk loudly, at a measured pace, with confidence
  4. If English is not your native language, speaking softly will not improve this problem.
  5. Respect your audience. They choose to give their precious attention and time to listen to your obscure and not-really-relevant-topic paper (all papers are like this, in the end. If it was universally relevant you would have written a monograph already and done a book tour).


  1. Don’t shift to let people through to a seat, move over so they can sit where you are.
  2. Don’t leave unnecessary empty seats – they’re unnecessary!
  3. Do your absolute utmost for the cause of silence. Of course some noise is unavoidable throughout the whole conference area, but noise accumulates quickly. Whether in a session or out, keep quiet.
  4. If you don’t have a good question, don’t ask it. We don’t need your soapbox issue.


More rambling tomorrow, or the next day!

Oxford Patristics 2015

Well, today I’m off to Oxford. I’m attending the XVII. International Conference on Patristic Studies, where I’ll be giving a paper on Tuesday morning about Basil’s exegetical practice in Against Eunomius, very specifically on Acts 2:36 and how this interacts with other authors and Basil’s broader hermeneutical methods. Or something like that.

This conference only happens once every four years, I guess that makes it the Olympics of Patristic conferences. It will be my first time there and I’m looking forward to it, though I admit to being a little intimidated by the sheer size of the conference and the caliber of people who will be there. Presenting first up on the first day doesn’t help, except in the knowledge that it will be over and done with quite quickly!

I’m looking forward to visiting a friend of mine and staying with him during the week. I think I’m looking forward to presenting, though taming my presentation into a sharp 15 minutes that still has meaningful content is proving… unruly. I’ll get there though.


The problem with closed-access peer-review academia

Recently I’ve enjoyed reading two unrelated but stimulating discussions taking place. The first example you can read here and here. I would summarise Skinner’s concerns in the second post that in a democratised (and that’s probably not the right word) sphere, everyone feels the right to have an equal opinion, and it’s difficult to give expert opinions their due weight. The remedy is (and I’m not saying this is Skinner’s view), traditionally, to point to the process of peer-review. Publishing is the sifting and sorting process that lends publications their authoritative weight. It’s why academia is a closed shop, it’s what the PhD is for: proving you’re ready to take a seat at the secret-society of peers who know about such and such a field.

The other discussion I’ve been listening in on is in the area of Digital Humanities and calls for greater open-access to research, data, etc.. One correspondent pointed to two articles that deal with the natural sciences:

Ioannidis,  2005 “Why most published research findings are false“, and,

Burembs and Munafò, 2015, “Deep Impact: unintended consequences of journal rank“.

Now, while those are quite a different field to Biblical Studies or Classics, or any Humanities discipline, we’d be fools if we thought that similar problems arising from journal ranking, bias, social pressure, and confirmation bias, we’re going on in Humanities disciplines.

Peer-reviewed closed-access publishing is run for the profit of publishers, and it’s paid for by the unpaid labour of academics. Is rigorous peer-review a great thing? Undoubtedly. Ought it be the gate-keeper to the conversation? Probably not. We do live in a more democratised world, and although everyone probably would admit theoretically that the only guarantee that you’re reading something worthy of critical acceptance is to read it critically for yourself with the pre-requisite knowledge to evaluate it, we’re all lazy and would much rather see the imprimatur of authority and say, ‘good enough for them, good enough for me’. But the result of that is richer publishers, elitism in academia, and a circle of bias that diminishes the value of peer-review to zero guarantee of truth or quality.