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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:
Letters of Athanasius with Two Ancient Chronicles of His Life.: Introduction.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 495 Letters of Athanasius,

with Two Ancient Chronicles of His Life.


The Letters cannot be arranged in strict sequence of time without breaking into the homogeneity of the corpus of Easter Letters. Accordingly we divide them into two parts: (1) all that remain of the Easter or Festal Epistles: (2) Personal Letters. From the latter class we exclude synodical or encyclical documents, or treatises merely inscribed to a friend, such as those printed above pp. 91, 149, 173, 222, &c., &c., the ad Serapionem, ad Marcellinum, &c. There remain a number of highly interesting letters, the survivals of what must have been a large correspondence, all of which, excepting six (Nos. 52, 54, 56, 59, 60, 61), now appear in English for the first time. They are arranged as nearly as possible in strict chronological order, though this is in some cases open to doubt (e.g. 60, 64, &c.). They mostly belong to the later half of the episcopate of Athanasius, and are therefore placed after the Festal Collection, which however itself extends to the end of the Bishop’s life. The immemorial numbering of the latter collection is of course retained, although many of the forty-five are no longer to be found.

Prefixed to the Letters are two almost contemporary chronicles, the one preserved in the same ms. as Letters 46, 47, the other prefixed to the Syriac ms., which is our sole channel for the bulk of the Easter Letters. A memorandum appended to Letter 64 specifies certain fragments not included in this volume. The striking fragment Filiis suis has been conjecturally placed among the remains of Letter 29.

For the arrangement of the Letters, the reader is referred to the general Table of Contents to this volume. We now give

a. The Historia Acephala or Maffeian fragment, with short introduction.

b. The Chronicon Prævium or Festal Index, with introduction to it and to the Festal Letters.

Next: The Historia Acephala.

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