Read the Fathers, a reading group to study patristics

lmullen's picture

I'm getting together a reading group to study the church fathers, using the texts available on CCEL. Here is the idea:

By reading seven pages a day for seven years, you can study a vast library of theology, history, liturgy, apologetics, biblical commentary, and devotion written in the first seven centuries of the Christian church. We provide a schedule of readings, the texts in English translation, and—most important—a community to discuss what you're learning. Laypeople, clergy, seminarians, students, and Christians of all denominations will benefit from joining our community to read the church fathers.

The site is available here:

We get started at the beginning of Advent, on December 2. I thought people at CCEL might be interested in joining in. If you're interested, let me know. Perhaps there will be enough interest to start a CCEL reading group.

tomgroeneman's picture


Here is one person interested in such a group at CCEL. My only reservation is that I am not disposed to making a 7 year commitment as your website expects. Maybe you or someone could approach the CCEL staff and suggest a more manageable strategy like dealing with one major Church Father at a time for a book discussion group.

Also, I am curious how you propose to handle the problem of particular denominations interpreting the writings of the Church Fathers according to their own theological preferences. You or your website do not indicate any doctrinal position and I am afraid this will lead to a 'generic' view of the Church Fathers with a lack of substance and authority. To be honest, my bias is Roman Catholic and as much as I appreciate evangelicals and other stripes of Protestants, I do not think they generally have a solid grasp of the historical realities relative to the Church Fathers and the Church that produced them. The writings of the Church Fathers are a major component of Sacred Tradition which Catholics hold as equally valid and authoritative as the Scriptures. And I might add, Protestants claim is an error to do so. The Orthodox faith would also be a legitimate player in the correct study of the Church Fathers; particularly the Greek Fathers of the 7th and 8th centuries.

So perhaps you can see some of my concerns in going forward. I cannot help but think you have already considered these issues and I would appreciate your candor in addressing them. Thank you in advance.

Tom Groeneman