Everyone knows that Quasten’s 4 volume handbook of the fathers of the church ends ca. 451. Few know that the Italian edition has two further volumes. I discovered on Monday that the first of these has been translated into English; I bought one on Tuesday while at the Oxford Patristics Conference, on seeing the publisher in a corner of a tent! Get it from Amazon.com NOW!
The format is exactly as before; writers are introduced in chronological order, their life and works are summarised (with bibliography), their works are then discussed individually (editions and translations listed); finally for major writers their theology is discussed.
This volume covers Greek and oriental church fathers from 451 AD (Council of Chalcedon) to John Damascene in the 8th century, the last of the patristic writers. It includes separate sections on Syriac and Coptic writers.
Frankly this is invaluable. Prior to this one had to rely on scanty mentions in short works like Altaner’s “Patrology”, itself elderly.
It’s not as good as Quasten vol. 4, which was prepared by the same team. The bibliographies are shallower. Annoyingly instead of listing the edition, entries sometimes just refer to the entry no in the “Clavis Patrum Graecorum”. No-one has that to hand, since none of us can afford it. Likewise the translations are scanty. It’s a bit odd that it is published separately, rather than as Quasten vol. 5 (which is what it is), but possibly commercial tussles are responsible.
But it’s still essential. I’ve finally worked out who the Julianists were that Severus of Antioch denounces, for instance. But then, I’ve only read around 60 pages so far. It can be taken to bed and read sequentially, as an excellent way to access the story of those centuries. And I will! (Mind you, whatever will I do now with my copy of the Italian version?)
Sadly the translator, Adrian Walford, has died. He did start on translating the other volume, on later Latin writers, but died of cancer before getting very far. Let us hope that the Institutum Augustinianum find another English translator.