Primary Sources

What is a primary source? See the Primary Sources at Yale site.
For more information about locating primary sources related to Christianity: Contact the Divinity Library Special Collections Librarian, Martha Smalley, at
or (203) 432-5289.


Yale manuscript and archival repositories of most relevance to the study of Christianity:

Databases for locating archival and manuscript materials

Primary sources by subject area

Guides to archival repositories beyond Yale

Primary Sources for Church History

The Ante-Nicene fathers: translations of the writings of the fathers down to A.D. 325 (Ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmanns, 1978-1979. 10 vols.)
Divinity RR BR60 A62 A5 1978
Divinity Stacks BR60 A62 A5 1978
SML Reference BR60 A62 1978 (LC)

Free web version available at Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Reprint of the original 1885-1896 edition. First published in Edinburgh by T.&T.Clark, 1867-1872, under the title Ante-Nicene Christian library.
A collection of the writings of the Apostolic Fathers down to 325 CE, in English translation.
Contents: Vol. 1, Apostolic fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenæus. Fathers of the second century: vol. 2, Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Clement of Alexandria. Latin Christianity, its founder, Tertullian: vol. 3, I. Apologetic. II. Anti-Marcion. III. Ethical. Fathers of the third century: vol. 4. Tertullian (pt. IV), Minucius Felix, Commodian, Origen (pt.I-II); vol. 5, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Appendix; vol. 6, Thaumaturgus, Dionysisus the Great, Julius Africanus, Anatolius and minor writers, Methodius, Arnobius. Fathers of the third and fourth centuries: vol. 7, Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic teaching and constitutions, Homily, Liturgies; vol. 8, Twelve patriarchs, Excerpts and epistles, Clementina, Apocrypha, Decretals, Memoirs of Edessa and Syriac documents, Remains of the first ages. Original supplement to the American edition: vol. 9, I. Bibliographical synopsis/ by E.C. Richardson. II. General index/ by B. Pick; vol. 10, Gospel of Peter, Diatessaron of Tatian, Apocalyse of Peter, Visio Pauli, Apocalyses of the Virgin and Sedrach, Testament of Abraham, Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena, Narrative of Zosimus, Apology of Aristides, Epistles of Clement, Origen's commentary on John (Books I-X) and Commentary on Matthew (Books I-II,X-XIV) / Ed. A. Menzies.

Corpus Christianorum (Turnholti: Typographi Brepols, 1953- )
Divinity Stacks--See Orbis for individual call numbers
SML--See Orbis for individual call numbers

Critical texts for early Christian authors. Designed to supplant Migne's Patrologiae cursus completus with new critical texts of the best of those currently extant. Texts principally in Latin and Greek, with occasional works in Coptic, Syriac, Arabic, etc.; introduction and commentary in French, German, English, Italian, or Latin, depending on the volume's editor. Subseries for early Christianity include Series Graeca, Series Latina, and Series Apocryphorum.

Library of Latin texts [electronic resource; formerly, CETEDOC Library of Christian Latin Texts ]
(Universitas Catholica Lovaniensis, Lovanii Novi. Second revised and expanded edition. Turnhout: Brepols, 1994)
Library of Latin Texts electronic database
Divinity Reserve CDR0001
SML Electronic Text Center (room 509)

Contains the entirety of volumes published in the Corpus Christianorum Series Latina and Continuatio mediaevalis. Also contains several works not yet available in the Corpus Christianorum but included in the Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum of Vienna, the Patrologia latina, or other collections.

The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1947- )
Divinity Stacks--See Orbis for individual call numbers
SML Stacks--See Orbis for individual call numbers [earlier volumes at Mudd]

"More and more, this is becoming the series to turn to for English translations of the writings of the Fathers. Fast approaching 100 volumes, the translations are fresh, and the introductions brief but useful. The length of the notes vary, but they provide adequate information about textual problems, parallels found in other literature of the time (both Christian and non-Christian), and general information about characters and places in the text. The modern debates are not generally addressed, however. Adequate indexes are provided." (Robinson 3.12)

Loeb classical library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1912- )
Divinity RR--See Orbis for individual call numbers
CCL Stacks--See Orbis for individual call numbers
Classics--See Orbis for individual call numbers

"An extensive collection of several hundred volumes in two series, Greek and Latin. Each volume prints parallel texts of the original and an English translation on facing pages, with a brief introduction and a bibliography... There is as yet no general index. Indexes to individual authors, while they vary in kind and value, are frequently useful for locating a subject or specific passage. Some volumes are issued in parts; some have revised editions." (Balay BE1002)
The collection includes several early Christian authors as well as Greek philosophers and historians whose writings are relevant to early Christian studies.

The Nag Hammadi library in English (James M. Robinson, general editor. Third completely revised edition. Leiden: E.J. Brill; San Francisco: Harper & Row, c1988)
Divinity RR BT1390 C413 1988
Divinity Stacks BT1390 C413 1988
CCL Stacks BT1390 C4413 1988 (LC)
SML Stacks BT1390 C4413 1977 (LC) [first edition]

"This is the standard English translation of the Nag Hammadi texts, done by 39 members of the Coptic Gnostic Library Project at Claremont. The 47 tractates are each introduced by a brief analysis of key questions (averaging 1-3 pp.). A review of the publishing history of these documents is provided in the preface, and Robinson's 26-page introduction deals with the basic questions, such as the stance of the texts (non-Christian, for some); the physical condition of the manuscripts; ...and the discovery and final purchases of the manuscripts themselves." (Robinson 15.5)

New Testament apocrypha (Ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher; English translation ed. R. McL. Wilson. Revised edition. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co.; Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991-1992)
Divinity RR BS2832 S36 1991
Divinity Stacks BS2832 S36 1991

Translation of Neutestamentliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung.
Volume I: Gospels and related writings. Volume II: Writings related to the apostles; apocalypses and related subjects.
English translations of New Testament apocrypha with brief textual notes as well as introductions to the critical issues for each document. The introductory essays contain some error, but the collection has not yet been replaced by anything better.

Neutestamentliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung (Ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher. Fifth edition. Tübingen: Mohr, 1987-1989)
Divinity RR BS2833 G3 A2 1987
Most recent German edition.

Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Graeca. Patrologiae cursus completus, seu bibliotheca universalis, integra, uniformis, commoda, oeconomica, omnium SS. Patrum, doctorum scriptorumque ecclesiasticorum ... Series Graeca... (J.-P. Migne. Paris: Migne, 1857-1866)
SML Reference BR60 +M53 (LC)
Divinity Stacks : Shelved in Group Study Room L5

Critical texts for the Greek Patristic and Byzantine authors. Although Migne's text often contains mistakes, for some works these volumes still offer the most readily available critical editions. Superseded by the Corpus Christianorum series.
Patrologia Graeca electronic database

Patrologiae cursus completus. Series Latina. Patrologiae cursus completus, seu bibliotheca universalis, integra, uniformis, commoda, oeconomica, omnium SS. Patrum, doctorum scriptorumque eccelesiasticorum qui ab aevo apostolico ad usque Innocentii III tempora floruerunt ... [Series Latina, in qua prodeunt Patres, doctores scriptoresque Ecclesiae Latinae, a Tertulliano ad Innocentium III](J.-P. Migne. Paris: Migne, 1844-64)
SML Reference BR60 +M54 (LC)
Divinity Stacks GF M588 L

Until 1857 issued in two series called Series prima ... a Tertuliano ad Gregorium Magnum and Series secunda ... a Gregorio Magno ad Innocentium III. Critical texts for the Latin Patristic authors. Although Migne's text often contains mistakes, for some works these volumes still offer the most readily available critical editions. Superseded by the Corpus Christianorum series.
Patrologia Latina database [computer file] (Alexandria, VA: Chadwyck-Healey, 1992- )
Divinity Reserve CDR0006
SML Electronic Text Center (room 509)

Patrologia Latina electronic database

A select library of the Nicene and post-Nicene fathers of the Christian church (Ed. Philip Schaff. 1st-2nd series. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmanns, 1978-1979. 28 vols.)
Divinity RR BR60 A62 S4 ser.1 1978 [first series], BR60 A62 S4 ser.2 1978 [second series]
Divinity Stacks BR60 A62 S4 ser.1 1978 [first series], BR60 A62 S4 ser.2 1978 [second series]
Divinity Stacks GF75 Se48s
SML Reference BR60 A63 1976 (LC)
CCL Stacks BR60 A63 1978 (LC)

Free web version available at Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Reprint of the original 1886-1900 edition.
"English translations of the 'most important works of Greek Fathers from Eusebius to Photius, and of the Latin Fathers from Ambrose to Gregory the Great.'--Pref. Lacks a general index, but has subject and scripture indexes in each volume." (Balay BC294)
Contents: First Series: vols. 1-8, Works of St. Augustine; vols. 9-14, Works of St. Chrysostom. Second Series: vol. 1, Church history--Life of Constantine the Great, and Oration in praise of Constantine/ Eusebius; vol. 2, Church histories/ Socrates, Sozomenus; vol. 3, Historical writings, etc./ Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, Rufinus; vol. 4, Select works and letters/ St. Athanasius; vol. 5, Dogmatic treatises, etc./ Gregory of Nyssa; vol. 6, Letters and select works/ St. Jerome; vol. 7, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory Nazianzen; vol. 8, Letters and select works/ St. Basil; vol. 9, St. Hilary of Poitiers, John of Damascus; vol. 10, Select works and letters/ St. Ambrose; vol. 11, Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian; vol. 12, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great; vol. 13, Gregory the Great (pt.2), Ephraim Syrus, Aphrahat; vol. 14, The Seven ecumenical councils.

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Primary Sources for the Study of Denominations

Roman Catholic

Papal, Episcopal and Counciliar Documents

Papal Encyclicals, 1790-1981
(Compiled by Claudia Carlen. New Hampshire: McGrath Pub., 1981. 5 vols.)
Divinity, Trowbridge Reference Room Oversize BX860.C37
This collection includes the complete text in English translation of all of the encyclicals issued through 1981. Each of the encyclicals is followed by a list of commentaries.

Papal pronouncements on marriage and the family from Leo XIII to Pius XII (1878-1954).
([compiled] by Alvin Werth, Clement S. Mihanovich.. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982, c1955.)
Divinity, Stacks BX2250 C28 1982

Pastoral Letters of the U.S. Catholic Bishops
(Edited by Hugh J. Nolan. Washington, DC: National Conference of Catholic Bishops, United States Catholic Conference, 1989. 5 v.) (1989-1997)
Divinity Stacks: BX874 A2 C37 1983
This collection contains the official text of all of the documents issued by the United States Conference of Catholic.

Vatican Council (2nd: 1962-65). Documents of Vatican II
(Edited by Austin P. Flannery. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975-82. 2 v.)
Divinity, Trowbridge Reference Room. BX830 1962.A3F55.
Vol. 1 offers English translations of the 16 Vatican Council II documents, together with 49 subsequent "Roman documents which amplify, elucidate or apply the major themes" (Pref.) of the Council's work. Vol. 2 adds 58 more postconciliar constitutions, directives, etc., on liturgy, ecumenism, religious life, ministry, current problems, and education, 1966-82. Cites Latin sources. Indexed. (Balay).

Papal, Episcopal and Counciliar Documents on Social Justice

Papal Social Principles: A Guide and Digest
(Compiled by Thomas Joseph Harte. Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publ. Co., 1956.) 207p.
Divinity, Stacks SH43.H251p
The major papal documents on social problems are arranged under twelve broad subject divisions with an alphabetical index of titles and subjects; for each document an outline, introduction, and bibliography are supplied (McCabe).

Social Wellsprings: Documents Selected Arranged and Annotated
(Compiled by Joseph Husslein. Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Pub. Co., 1940-42. 2 v.
Divinity, Stacks SH43.C286Ls
Contains the complete texts of thirty-two of the most significant social encyclicals of Leo XIII (v. 1) and Pius XI (v. 2) with an index in each volume. The documents collected here cover a wide scope of topics ranging from marriage and the family to politics and government. They represent the great social pronouncements of the modern Church - Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno, Mit Brennender Sorge, etc. An introduction and a bibliography precede each document. Documentation and marginal notes are supplied. Indexes in each volume (McCabe).

Puebla and Beyond
(Edited b John Eagelson and Philip Scharper. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1979.)
Divinity, Stacks BX1425.A1.P83
Contains the English translation of all the documents issued by the 1979 Puebla Conference (the Third General Conference of Latin American Bishops). The conference, opened by Pope John Paul II, considered many of the issues important to the understanding of contemporary Roman Catholic thought on social justice including the need for social and economic reform and "the preferential option for the poor." This volume contains the text of the conference documents and commentaries on them.

Justice in the Marketplace: Collected Statements of the Vatican and the U.S. Catholic Bishops on Economic Policy, 1891-1984
(Edited by David M. Byers Washington DC: USCC/NCCB, 1985.)
Divinity, Stacks 010589
This collection contains the unabridged texts of many of the documents relating to social justice promulgated by the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Useful introductions and brief commentaries are also provided.

Official Catholic Teachings, vol. 4: Social Justice
(Compiled by Vincent P. Mainelli Wilmington, NC: McGrath Publ. Co., 1978.)
Divinity, Stacks BX1753.S625
Documents from popes, councils, and other sources reprinted in numbered paragraphs. Contains a subject index referring to these numbered sections. The original documentation is reprinted with the texts and an introduction has been written by the compiler (McCabe).

Proclaiming Justice and Peace: Documents from Rerum Novarum through Centesimus Annus
(Edited by Michael Walsh and Brian Davies. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1991.)
Divinity, Stacks BX1753.P755
Contains English-language translations of "twelve complete and two excerpted documents which together constitute the most authoritative and most recent social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. All but four of them are encyclical letters. Of these four, two are statements prepared by bishops meeting in Rome. Of the remaining two...both were written by Pope Paul VI ...[who, after 1968] appears to have chosen forms of communication other than encyclicals" (Intro.)
In their selection process, the editors have chosen to emphasize those papal documents generated over the last thirty years. The documents "attempt to examine the contemporary human condition in the light of God's word and the teaching tradition of the church" (Foreword). Some documents are addressed to all persons of good will, and not exclusively the Catholic faithful.

Renewing the Earth: Catholic Documents on Peace, Justice, and Liberation
(Edited by David J. O'Brien and Thomas A. Shannon. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1977. 598p.)
Divinity, Stacks 801974
Fourteen documents, papal, conciliar, United States episcopal and Medell´i;n documents from Latin America are reprinted along with several introductory essays and a general index (McCabe).

Social Justice! The Catholic Position
(Edited by Vincent P. Mainelli. Washington, DC: Consortium Press, 1975.)
Divinity, Stacks BT738.M33
Thirteen documents from Pope John XXIII, Paul VI, the Vatican Council, and the Synod of Bishops are reprinted in this work in numbered paragraphs. A topical index of over 100 subjects indicates which section of the documents deal with which social issues. Ten major social issues are indexed through color tabs. This work was revised and incorporated into Official Catholic Teachings (McCabe).

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Primary Sources for Missions

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