An Introduction to 
The Oriental Fathers 

While the majority of early Christian literature is in Greek and Latin, there were other languages spoken in the ancient Near-East.  Christian literature migrated into these languages, from Greek.  This gradually developed first on the territory of the Roman Empire and soon also outside it. Nevertheless, a large number of theologically and literarily independent achievements are to be found only among Syrians and Armenians. 

The literature of other peoples who had been converted to Christianity, namely that of the Copts, Ethiopians, Georgians and Arabs, was in the earliest period mainly confined to translations of Greek works to satisfy the most urgent practical needs. 

First of all, the books of Holy Scripture were translated into the various national languages, then also liturgical, canonical and exegetical-homiletic writings (cf. the literature given in Altaner, § 3).

All of these come at the end of the patristic period, and most are really medieval.


The information on these pages is mainly derived from B. ALTANER (tr. H. Graef), Patrology, Herder (1960).  There is also a short bibliography in J. Quasten's Patrology, vol. 1.

K. BROCKELMANN, F. N. FINCK, J. LEIPOLDT, E. LITTMANN, Geschichte der christlichen Literaturen des Orients. Leipzig, 1907. 
A. BAUMSTARK, Die christlichen Literaturen des Orients. Leipzig, 1911 (2 vols.).

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