As one who is hoping to encourage biblical scholars to engage more with patristic interpreters, I thought it would be helpful to explain the best routes to find where patristic writers cite the Bible.  This topic was briefly brought up at Evangelical Textual Criticism.  The best resource I’ve found to discuss the issue is “A Note on the Critical Use of Instrumenta for the Retrieval of Patristic Biblical Exegesis,” Steven R. Harmon, Journal of Early Christian Studies 11:1, 95–107 © 2003 The Johns Hopkins University Press

Harmon offers this as this priority for ‘the most efficient use of [the] tools.  First, one should consult the volumes of Biblia Patristica. Second, one should supplement Biblia Patristica with keyword searches of the electronic databases [e.g., TLG]. Third, one should compare the combined results from Biblia Patristica and electronic databases with the entries in the scripture indices for PG, PL, PLS, and CPG, since it is possible that these could yield a reference not located by the other tools; in the test case, that did in fact happen with the PLS index.’ (105)

(1) Biblia Patristica. Seven volumes have been published to date, along with a supplementary volume for biblical references in Philo of Alexandria, who served as an exegetical model for many patristic authors.  The entries do not distinguish between quotations and allusions, and criteria for the latter are rather loose. (Began in 1975, latest volume in 2000.)

  • Volume 1: beginnings of extracanonical Christian literature up to Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian.
  • Volume 2 Third century, apart from Origen.
  • Volume 3 Origen
  • Volume 4 Fourth century, includes Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Epiphanius of Salamis.
  • Volume 5 covers Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Amphilochius of Iconium.
  • Volume 6 Latin writers, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, and the Ambrosiaster.
  • Volume 7 Didymus the Blind.

[UPDATE: The published and unpublished portions of Biblia Patristica are now online at BIBLindex! See my post here.]

(2) Electronic Databases. There are four major electronic databases that provide keyword-searchable access early Christian literature: the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG), the Patrologia Latina Database (PLD), the Cetedoc Library of Christian Latin Texts (CLCLT), and the Archive of Celtic Latin Literature (ACLL).

  • TLG contains nearly all extant Greek texts from Homer to 600 c.e. and much of the Byzantine literature from 600 to 1453. Periodic updates are issued; a significant addition to release E in 2000 is the corpus of Cyril of Alexandria, among other authors.
  • PLD contains the complete, uncorrected text of PL.
  • CLCLT contains the more reliable editions of the Corpus Christianorum Latinorum.  At present PLD is more extensive, but CLCLT is updated periodically and already contains a number of texts not found in PL.
  • ACLL complements the CLCLT database by including Latin texts produced in Gaelic speaking areas of Europe from 400–1200 c.e.’ (100-101).

See Brepols.net for electronic language stuff, particularly for Latin.  Also, see the Corpus Christianorum, whose Series Graeca (CCSG) is replacing Migne’s PG with better critical texts.

3) Scripture Indices. For the researcher working any time prior to 1975 to locate references biblical citations in early Christian literature through the eighth century, the best set of tools would have been the index volumes of the Migne Patrologiae Cursus Completus.

  • Patrologia Latina (PL) is in indexed in volumes 218-221, though only by book and chapter (not verses, except for the Patrologia Latina Supplementum (PLS)).
  • For Patrologia Graeca (PG): Ferdinand Cavallera, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Graeca: Indices (Paris: Garnier, 1912).  However, these indices primarily only focus on homilies and commentaries rather than theological treatises, making them less than complete.
  • NT citations in Apostolic Fathers: The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905) by the Committee of the Oxford Society of Historical Theology.
  • Clavis Patrum Graecorum (CPG) published by Brepols as part of the Corpus Christianorum series contains an Index Biblicus in volume 5: Maurice Geerard and F. Glorie, CPG, vol. 5, Indices, Initia, Concordantiae (Turnhout: Brepols, 1987).
  • The current edition of Clavis Patrum Latinorum (CPL) does not contain a scripture index: Eligius Dekkers and Emil Gaar, ed., Clavis Patrum Latinorum, 3d ed. (Turnhout: Brepols, 1995).
  • Herman Josef Sieben published an index to patristic homilies on the New Testament in 1991 in the series Instrumenta Patristica: Herman Josef Sieben, Kirchenväterhomilien zum Neuen Testament: Ein Repertorium der Textausgaben und Untersuchungen, mit einem Anhang der Kirchenväterkommentare, Instrumenta Patristica 22 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff International, 1991).
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