Recovering Patristic Biblical Exegesis in Historical and Religious Research

****Note this post will always be under review as I keep up with other sources (print and electronic resources) and continue to refine methodology. Please leave a note helping me add to this page.

Recently, I have been making my way through Seeing the Word: Refocusing New Testament Study (Studies in Theological Interpretation) by Markus Bockmuehl. Although he sees the NT discipline in state of decline (more on this in the coming month), he sees effective history and the spectrum of textual intention as way to move forward the disciplines. In other words, the history of interpretation and Wirkungsgeschichte are ways to move forward the conversations in the discipline.

Over the past year I have been trying to immerse myself in this. How can Patristic exegesis of New Testament texts aid our understanding of the Bible and other scholarly discussions.  So many variables exist when engaging early Christian texts, intertextual traditions, and overlapping traditions.

  1. Have the Father’s understood scripture.
  2. Have the Father’s used scripture.
  3. What is their understanding of scripture.
  4. What method do they use when interpreting scripture.

The following, however, will seek to assist students and researchers find answers to #1 and 2. Once the data has been uncovered, researchers will be able to then engage #3 and 4.

I recently stumbled across an article through the help of Ben Blackwell (see here). Steven Harmon wrote an article observing the retrieval and newfound interest of patristic biblical exegesis. Due to these interests, Harmon also provides notes on the available (1) print resources, (2) electronic resources, and (3) minor comments on research methodology. So, the following will be highly dependent upon Harmon’s data. I, however, will continue to add to the following sections for my own research interests. All additions will be marked by (+).

Steven R. Harmon. “A Note on the Critical Use of Instrumenta for the Retrieval of Patristic Biblical Exegesis.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 11, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 95–107. (PDF)

Print Resources for Patristic Biblical Exegesis

(1) Patrologia Cursus Completus: Series Graeca (PG)

Some have allowed for open access full search texts. Peregrinus Hibernesis has listed all texts in the PG (see here). has listed all the texts (see here)

For Logos users, see here.

(2) Patrologia Cursus Completus: Series Latina (PL)

Some have allowed for open access full search texts. has listed all the texts (see here).

Also, consult the indices of PL (volumes 218–21). Four supplemental volumes appeared between 1958–67 as Patrologia Latina Supplementum (PLS). A fifth volume, published in 1974, provides an index of biblical citations.

For Logos users, see here.

+(3) Patrologia Cursus Completus: Syriaca and Orientalis

For Logos users, see here.

According to Harmon, these texts hinder work for the following reasons. First, all references are for “whole commentaries”. Therefore, one must sift through major amounts of material to find the reference. Second, these indices are limited to commentaries and homilies. Third, some texts have come to light and have been surpassed by other critical editions (p. 98).

(4) New Testament Citations and Allusions in the Apostolic Fathers (OUP)

In 1905, an oxford committee analyzes how the NT appears in the Apostolic Fathers canon.

Open Access, see here.

For Logos users, see here.

(5) Clavis Patrum Graecorum (CPG)

This series tries to be exhaustive as possible by providing texts from the 2nd century to the 8th century within the Greek tradition.

For the series, see here.

(6) Clavis Patrum Latinorum

This series tries to be exhaustive as possible by providing texts from the 2nd century to the 8th century within the Latin tradition. No one has provided a scripture index, yet.

For this series, see here.

+(7) Corpus Christanorum Series Graeca (CCSG)

This series sees the flaws in PG and PL and is seeking to replace them. PG no longer serves the needs of modern scholarship and CCSG is seeking to fill the gaps and deficiencies of PG.

For the series, see here.

(8) Instrumenta Patristica 22

Find and locate the following text. Sieben has published an index to Patristic homilies on the New Testament.

Herman Josef Sieben. Kirchenväterhomilien zum Neuen Testament: Ein Repertorium der Textausgaben und Untersuchungen, mit einem Anhang der Kirchenväterkommentare. Instruments Patristica 22. The Hague: Martinus Niehoff International, 1991. (LOC—BS2392 .S54 1991)

(9) Biblia Patristica

The series attempts to produce a comprehensive listing of all biblical citations and allusions in early Christian texts. Each volume contains bibliographic information for text editions, and book, chapter, and sections for either quotation or allusion.

Biblia Patristica is now also available online, see here. Also available via Biblindex, but not in print, is Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chyrsostom, Theodoret of Cyrus, Procopius of Gaza, and Jerome.

  1. Vol. 1 — Extracanonical Christian literature p to Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian (1975)
  2. Vol. 2 — Third Century literature, apart from Origen (1977)
  3. Vol. 3 — Origen (1980)
  4. Vol. 4 — Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Epiphanius of Salamis (1987)
  5. Vol. 5 — Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Amphilochius of Iconium (1991)
  6. Vol. 6 — Latin Writers including Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, and Ambroasiaster (1995)
  7. Vol. 7 — Didymus the Blind (2000)
  8. Supplement — Philo of Alexandria (1982)

Electronic Resources for Patristic Biblical Exegesis

Databases 1–4 is keyword searchable and follow typical Boolean operation (AND, OR, NOT), truncation, proximity searches, and date ranges.

(1) Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG)

TLG is rather comprehensive. It contains nearly all Greek texts from Homer–600AD, and many Byzantine texts from 600–1453.

For open limited access, see here.

For downloading the CD-ROM, see here.

(2) Patrologia Latina Database (PLD)

PLD is the electronic version of Minge’s PL. It includes Latin texts, critical apparatus, prefatory material, and indices of the early Fathers (Tertullian, 200AD) to the death of Pope Innocent III (1216).

(3) Cetedoc Library of Christian Latin Texts (CLCLT)

You will need to contact your local librarian for more information about this database.

Indiana University provides a helpful and useful introduction, see here.

(4) Archive of Celtic Latin Literature (ACLL)

You will need to contact your local librarian for more information about this database, see here.

Queens University Belfast provides a helpful introduction, see here.

Brepolis also provides a helpful overview of their database, see here.

+(5) Biblindex

Biblindex is a database reflecting Biblia Patristica. This electronic database includes early works than the printed texts. Additions include Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chyrsostom, Theodoret of Cyrus, Procopius of Gaza, and Jerome.

Research Methodology for Patristic Biblical Exegesis

(1) Consult the volumes of Biblia Patristica

Find and consult the pertinent volumes of Biblia Patristica and document the texts highlighting your intended passage of study.

+(2) Consult the indices of the printed volumes above

Some of the volumes above have indices. Although dated, each volume in the Anti-Nicene Fathers, Nicene, and Post-Nicene fathers (Coxe, Roberts, Donaldson, eds.) also have indices.

(3) Keyword searches of the electronic databases

This is most valuable when consulting the use of collected biblical verses in early Christian texts (e.g., Heb 1:3; Matt 6:1–4). Rather, than searching for a Greek or Latin root word, search shortened key words. For example, when searching for references to Heb 1:3, search “ἀπαύγασ AND χαρακτ”. In this way, you are able to account for truncation, different spelling, and other anomalies.

(4) Compare results from Biblia Patristica and electronic databases with entries in PGPLPLS, and CPG

Some entries will be reduplicated. So, remove any reduplicated entires.

*     *     *     *

Please assist this collation of sources and research methodology. I welcome any suggestion to make this better. Also, please let me know if, over time, the links become broken.

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