HOW YOU CAN HELP THE PATRISTICS IN ENGLISH PROJECT
There are several ways that you can help with the project and there is something for everyone to do. These include Praying For Us, Searching For Fragments, Scanning Out of Copyright Books, and Making New Translations.
1.) Prayer: One of our goals here at Patristics In English is to encourage Christians (Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Liberals, Pentecostals, Mainline, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, etc.) to read and study patristics more. There are several reasons for this but the main one being is that we feel that the reading of Patristic texts can help us to better understand the doctrinal aspects of our faith by studying the writings of our spiritual ancestors to see what they believed and then comparing and contrasting it with what we believe in an effort to help us discover true doctrine. Doctrine is the one thing that really divides Christians and if we could all agree on a true doctrine then there would be more unity and cooperation amongst Christians.
2.) Searching For Fragments: We need people who will read through the Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and Philip Schaff 38 volume Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post Nicene collection of Patristic texts and list all of the fragments that you find within each book. By fragments we mean quotes and references to other books or writings. Many times these brief quotes are all that remain of an ancient literary work and in some case only a few lines may be all that we have left of an ancient writer. We are interested in these fragments from any writer (secular, heretical, and of course, Christian). Sometimes we are very blessed in that we can find a whole letter quoted by an ancient Christian writer. Here is an example of what we mean:
But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends. He says: “But I shall not hesitate also to put down for you along with my interpretation whatsoever things I have at any time learned carefully from the elders and carefully remembered, guaranteeing their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those that speak much, but in those that teach the truth..."
-Eusebius of Caesarea' Ecclesiastiac History 3:39
Thanks to Eusebius we have the above quote from a lost work of a bishop named Papias. Papias had a close relationship to the Lord, perhaps being a disciple of the Apostle John. So, you can see why collecting these fragments can be helpful to those who want to understand the history of Christianity better. So, in this case if you were helping us by doing option number 2 you would read the text, copy and paste the quote into a word document and then put the reference from where you found the quote (in the above case it was from Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Chapter 39) and then email it to us. The 38 volume Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post Nicene collection can be found by clicking on them and there are also Additional Patristic Texts here that were not included in the 38 volumes above that also need to be searched for fragments.
3.) Scanning Out Of Copyright Books: If you have access to a scanner we need people who can scan out of copyright books so that they can be placed upon the Patristics In English website.
4.) Making New Translations: If you can read Greek, Latin, German or French we need people who are willing to make new translations of ancient Christian texts. Many things have never been translated into English before, leaving the reader who cannot speak Greek or Latin unable to decipher them. Also, some things have been translated in German or French and have fell into the public domain, thus making it legal for these works to be translated into English. If you would like to translate a particular passage from the Greek or Latin most ancient Christian texts were compiled into two massive encyclopedias called the Patrologia Graeca and the Patrologia Latina compiled by J.P. Migne. These each have the ancient texts in Greek on one side of the page and Latin on the other. So, if you can't read Latin but can read Greek you can still work with the text and vice-a-versa if you can speak Latin but can't read Greek. A list of the writers in the Patrologia Graeca can by found by clicking on it. If you are interested in Latin writers click here for the Patrologia Latina sorted by volume number or by author and title. Remember that Latin and Greek translations of each work are included in both the Greek and Latin series.
If you don't have access to a theological library that has Migne's Patrologies you can go to your local public library and see if they can do an interlibrary loan. If they can't contact us. We have a good library here and we might be able to get it through interlibrary loan and make copies to send you.
We have now set up a translation page where anyone can go in and translate. Your translations can be done directly on the webpage and will be visible immediately after posting them. The URL is here.
The only requirement that we have of translations is that you allow your work to fall into the public domain. It really isn't fair of us to copyright something that we didn't write, especially when the original author has been dead for over a 1,000 years and copyright also hinders the work of scholars who need unrestricted access to the texts for research projects. When you think about it, if you are going to put something on the internet where every computer in the world can download it at any time they want does copyright under those circumstances even make sense? The purpose of copyright is to control how many and who copies your work. But if you place something on the internet that immediately becomes impossible to enforce.