Quasten’s “Patrology” — new volume available!

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.


5 thoughts on “Quasten’s “Patrology” — new volume available!

  1. With Roger’s permission, I think it’s better to clarify this situation.
    The English and French editions are different from the Italian and Spanish ones for the contents and the number of volumes.

    English/French edition :
    Johannes Quasten, Patrology Volume I – The beginnings of patristic literature, Utrecht, Spectrum Publishers (1949), 367 pages,
    Johannes Quasten, Patrology Volume II – The Ante-Nicene literature before Irenaeus, Utrecht, Spectrum Publishers (1953), 461 pages,
    Johannes Quasten, Patrology Volume III – The golden age of Greek patristic literature from the council of Nicaea to the council of Chalcedon, Utrecht, Spectrum Publishers (1959), 630 pages,
    Angelo Di Berardino, Patrology Volume IV – The golden age of Latin patristic literature from the council of Nicaea to the council of Chalcedon, Westminster (Maryland), Christian Classics (1986), 695 pages,
    Angelo Di Berardino, Patrology Volume V – The Eastern Fathers from the Council of Chalcedon to John of Damascus, Cambridge, James Clarke & Co. (2006), 736 pages,

    Spanish edition :
    Johannes Quasten, Patrística Volume I – Hasta el Concilio de Nicea, Madrid, Editorial Católica (1961), 773 pages,
    Johannes Quasten, Patrología Volume II – La edad de oro de la literatura patrística griega, Madrid, Editorial Católica (1962), 633 pages,
    Angelo Di Berardino, Patrología Volume III – La edad de oro de la literatura patrística latina, Madrid, Editorial Católica (1981), 814 pages,
    Angelo Di Berardino, Patrología Volume IV – Del Concilio de Calcedonia (451) a Beda ; Los Padres latinos, Madrid, Editorial Católica (2000), 722 pages,

    Italian edition :
    Johannes Quasten, Patrologia Volume I – La letteratura cristiana e i Padri occidentali e orientali dal periodo immediamente post-apostolico al Concilio di Nicea (325), Torino, Marietti (1967), 732 pages,
    Johannes Quasten, Patrologia Volume II – I Padri greci dal Concilio di Nicea (325) al Concilio di Calcedonia (451), Torino, Marietti (1969), 653 pages,
    Angelo Di Berardino, Patrologia Volume III – I Padri latini dal Concilio di Nicea (325) al Concilio di Calcedonia (451), Torino, Marietti (1978), 618 pages,
    Angelo Di Berardino, Patrologia Volume IV – I Padri latini dal Concilio de Calcedonia (451) a Beda il Venerabile (735), Genova, Marietti (1996), 575 pages,
    Angelo Di Berardino, Patrologia Volume V – I Padri orientali dal Concilio di Calcedonia (451) a Giovanni Damasceno (750), Genova, Marietti (2000), 732 pages,

    According to the preface of the fourth Spanish volume, after the release of the third original volume Quasten could not continue his work due to health issues and gave his blessing to the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum to bring it to completion. The Spanish translation combined the first two original volumes into one, the Italian translation followed the same method so that now the numbering is off by one.
    As far as I know the fourth Italian volume remains untranslated in any other language and after sixteen years from the original release I seriously doubt an English translation will ever see the light of day, considering that the last English volume came out ten years ago with little success.

    To conclude, the volume published by James Clarke & Co. is not the fifth volume of the Patrology, it should have been the sixth one and sincerely I can’t understand why they decided to leave aside the real fifth one dedicated to the Western Fathers up to the Venerable Bede.

    For those interested, the fourth Italian volume is available for purchase here :

    For those living in the UK, the same book is available for interlibrary loan :

  2. That’s very clear – thank you. I myself do own copies of the 4th and 5th Italian volumes, so I was relieved when the translation of the 5th came out. The translator for that then died, which is probably why the other volume never appeared. Good to know that these are accessible online.

  3. For completeness’ sake here are the bibliographic infos of the French edition :
    Johannes Quasten, Initiation aux Pères de l’Église Volume I, Paris, Éditions du Cerf (1955), 428 pages,
    Johannes Quasten, Initiation aux Pères de l’Église Volume II, Paris, Éditions du Cerf (1956), 548 pages,
    Johannes Quasten, Initiation aux Pères de l’Église Volume III – L’âge d’or de la littérature patristique grecque du concile de Nicée au concile de Chalcédoine, Paris, Éditions du Cerf (1962), 851 pages,
    Angelo Di Berardino, Initiation aux Pères de l’Église Volume IV – Du concile de Nicée (325) au concile de Chalcédoine (451) : les Pères latins, Paris, Éditions du Cerf (1986), 799 pages,

    I wanna also share the translated text of the preface to the first Italian volume reprinted by Marietti in 1980 and signed by Quasten :

    The present work is the Italian translation of volume I and II of my English Patrology, published in 1950 and 1953. A French translation has been edited, under the title of Initiation aux Pères de l’Église, in 1955 and 1957, for the prints of “Éditions du Cerf” in Paris, and a Spanish one in 1961 by “Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos” in Madrid. Both these translations added numerous references to new publications, in order to make the work more and more updated. The same thing was done by the author for this Italian edition: indeed, comparing it with the original English, you can see that far more than two thousand additions have been made in the bibliography. So the Italian edition is a complete and expanded version of the English one. The number of additions gives an idea at the same time, unquestionably, of the enormous amount of modern studies and the great current interest in the field of patristics. One of the features of this Patrology consists in the numerous excerpts of Patristic works quoted in Italian for the purpose of arousing interest in the Fathers of the Church. These excerpts are thought of as samples that, by giving the reader a taste of the beauty and sublimity of the Patristic writings, may tempt him to take in hand the original and get his own impression of it, or, at least, to read it in some good translation. Only this, if achieved, will put the student close to Patristic literature, because only then does he sense the atmosphere of Christian antiquity and begin to penetrate its world. The author’s experience as a teacher at the University occasioned his adopting this device. The selections are designed also to show the development of theology in the early centuries and to illustrate the approach of the Fathers to the deposit of faith. May the student share the feeling once expressed by Cardinal Newman : « The vision of the Fathers was always to my imagination, I may say, a paradise of delight ».
    In conclusion I feel it is my pleasant duty to thank the Editori Marietti for suggesting and publishing this Italian edition, and Dott. Nello Beghin for his faithful translation.
    The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C.
    Johannes Quasten

    After comparing three editions (unfortunately I don’t have access to the French one), it’s my humble opinion that every version has a different bibliography and even if the Italian one should be the most complete, my heartfelt advice to those interested in Patristic studies is, if possible, to look out for and consult all four editions so that they have the best experience of Quasten and Di Berardino’s full work.

    To conclude, in an old post of this blog (http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2011/11/29/should-we-update-quasten/) Lewis Ayres said he was working with Angelo Di Berardino and Thomas Graumann to bring forward a six-volume Cambridge Patrology. After five years of silence without news, is the project still ongoing ? Roger, can you please contact one of the editors about the status of the project and ask if there is a tentative timeframe for the release of the first volume ?

  4. Thank you very much for this.

    I did write again some time ago, with exactly this enquiry, but I received no reply. They weren’t very communicative even at the start.

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