Library of the Fathers - 2
There is a short but useful article on the Library of the Fathers in
the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. I quote:
"The series of English translations of selected writings of the early
Christian Fathers, published under the inspiration of the Oxford
Movement. The first volume to appear was the Confessions of St
Augustine (1838; edited by E.B. Pusey)."
A short bibliography refers to H.P. Liddon, Life of Edward Bouverie
Pusey, 1 (1893), pp. 409-47, and R.W. Pfaff, "The Library of the
Fathers: the Tractarians as Patristic Translators", Studies in
Philology, 70 (1973) pp. 329-44.
Pusey's translation of the Confessions was reprinted in Everyman's
Library. The several mentions in the preface of "this Library" refer
to the Library of the Fathers, not (as one might think) to Everyman's
St Augustine's Confessions were again translated in the first volume of
the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Pusey's translation was not used,
but a fresh translation was prepared by J.G. Pilkington. Philip
Schaff, editor of the volume, has some useful remarks about the Library
of the Fathers in his Preface (pp. v-vi):
"The three leaders of the now historic Anglo-Catholic movement of
Oxford, Drs. Pusey, Newman and Keble, began, in 1837, the publication
of A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, anterior to the
Division of the East and West. Translated by Members of the English
Church, Oxford (John Henry Parker) and London (J.G.F. & J. Rivington).
It is dedicated to William Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of
all England. The editors were aided by a number of able classical and
ecclesiastical scholars. Dr. Pusey, the chief editor and proprietor,
and Dr Keble died in the communion of the church of their fathers to
which they were loyally attached; Dr. Newman alone remains, though no
more an Anglican, but a Cardinal of the Church of Rome. His connection
with the enterprise ceased with his secession (1845).
"The Oxford Library was undertaken not so much for an historical, as
for an apologetic and dogmatic purpose. It was to furnish authentic
proof for the supposed or real agreement of the Anglo-Catholic school
with the faith and practice of the ancient church before the Greek
schism. The selection was made accordingly. The series embraces 48
vols. It is very valuable as far as itgoes, but incomplete and
unequal. Volume followed volume as it happened to get ready. An undue
proportion is given to exegetical works; six volumes are taken up with
Augustin's Commentary on the Psalms, six with Gregory's Commentary on
Job, sixteen with Commentaries of Chrysostom; while many of the most
important doctrinal, ethical and historical works of the Fathers, as
Eusebius, Basil, the two Gregorys, Theodoret, Maximus Confessor, John
of Damascus, Hilary, Jerome, Leo the Great, were never reached."
The translation of St Augustine's Expositions on the Psalms, contained
in volume 8 of the first series of NPNF, is an abridgement of that
published in the Library of the Fathers. Its editor, A. Cleveland
Coxe, notes that " . . . the general editor [Schaff] informed me that
the whole work must be comprised in a single volume of the series.
This allowed but one hundred pages to each one of the six volumes of
the Oxford translation." Coxe reprinted the preface to the first of
the six volumes, by C.M[arriott] in 1847, and E.B.P[usey]'s
advertisement to the last, in 1857, Marriott having been promoted to
glory in the meantime.
As to the identity of the translators: Marriott writes, "For the
present translation, as far as the first thirty Psalms, the editors are
indebted to a friend who conceals his name; for the remainder of the
volume, with part of the next which is to appear, to the Rev. J.E.
Tweed, M.A., chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford." Marriott writes of
the third volume, "The whole of it, as well as a few Psalms at the end
of the former and the beginning of the following volume, is translated
by T. Scratton Esq., M.A. of Christ Church, Oxford." The fifth volume
appeared in April 1853, with the name of the Rev. H.M. Wilkins, M.A.,
of Merton College, as translator. Pusey writes, in the sixth and last
volume, "This volume, long delayed, has been completed by the Rev H.
Walford, Vice-Principal of St Edmund's Hall." And the identity of the
translators can often be discovered by looking in the preface to the
relevant volume, or even of the next volume, or the final volume of a
set. Neither the editors nor the translators were anxious for personal
glory; indeed personal modesty is an endearing feature of the series,
and of the entire Tractarian movement. That is why they were content
that the title pages should contain a reference only to "Members of the
It is quite easy to pick up second-hand volumes of the Library of the
Fathers. I have a couple, and could have bought pretty much a complete
set from Ken Spelman's bookshop recently for about £100. However, they
tend to be rather dog-eared, and of course for most of the works more
recent translations and scholarship are available.
I don't know whether any publisher has considered issuing a reprint of
the Library of the Fathers: Gregg? Hendrickson, who have done such a
beautiful job of the Ante-Nicene Fathers and Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers? Or could we interest the Ceramic Doctor in doing a reprint in
York Medieval Press?
The Supple Doctor.
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