2021 Reading Project: The Cappadocian Fathers

I started a tradition in 2018 of selecting a theologian and reading all (or at least most of) his works over the course of the subsequent year. My hope is that this allows me to not only to become familiar with important figures and texts, but to also get into his theological mind over a large body of work. This year I picked to a group of theologians: the Cappadocian Fathers.

The Cappadocian Fathers are three hugely influential, 4th-century theologians and churchmen who wrote and ministered in Cappadocia, what is now central Turkey. They are Basil the Great (330-379), the bishop of Caesarea; his younger brother, Gregory of Nyssa (~335-395), who was bishop of his namesake; and their friend, Gregory of Nazianzus (or Gregory Nazianzen; 329-389), who was briefly bishop of Nazianzus before becoming bishop of Constantinople. Collectively, they helped formulate orthodox doctrines of the Trinity after the first Nicene Council, and were instrumental (along with Athanasius, the object of my 2019 reading project) with protecting orthodoxy from Arianism. Basil and Nyssa had an older sister, Macrina, who was also influential in terms of ministerial and monastic practice. She has no surviving writings, but Nyssa wrote an important biography of her.

I have already read a decent number of their works, and so a good friend urged me to read some more historical background and comparable works by contemporaneous peers, such as works by Origen (~184-253) and John Chrysostom (~347-407). The secondary reading is something I’m quite excited about, especially September’s docket. A lot of the Fathers’ works can be found online at New Advent, which I’ll use a little, especially for a number of Nyssa’s shorter works, but I prefer to read better translations and in hard copy if possible. St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press has translated and published a number of their writings in an accessible way, which is primarily what I’ll use. One exception is the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series II, Vol. 8: Basil: Letters and Select Works, since it includes Basil’s letters, which are unavailable in their entirety elsewhere, and is quite cheap. The links I provided are the editions I will be using, though there are plenty of alternatives available.

Below is the calendar I’ll be following, with major works by the Fathers in bold.












December: catch up if needed.