e-Catena: Compiled Allusions to the NT in the Ante-Nicene Fathers

Dedicated to the transcribers and translators who made it possible.

Matthew1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Mark 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Luke 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
John 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Acts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Romans 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
1st Corinthians 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
2nd Corinthians 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Galatians 1 2 3 4 5 6
Ephesians 1 2 3 4 5 6
Philippians 1 2 3 4
Colossians 1 2 3 4
1st Thessalonians 1 2 3 4 5
2nd Thessalonians 1 2 3
1st Timothy 1 2 3 4 5 6
2nd Timothy 1 2 3 4
Titus 1 2 3
Philemon 1
Hebrews 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
James 1 2 3 4 5
1st Peter 1 2 3 4 5
2nd Peter 1 2 3
1st John 1 2 3 4 5
2nd John 1
3rd John 1
Jude 1
Revelation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Medieval scholars including Aquinas compiled references from the Church Fathers in order to illuminate scripture in collections called catenae, from the Latin for "chains" or "links." In modern terms, a catena is a hypertext. Since the footnotes of the public domain Ante-Nicene Fathers already contain information on allusions to biblical passages, the opportunity was there to take that information and format it so that the patristic references follow the canonical order. This invited a software solution. The fourteen hundred line program was coded in a 13-hour stint on one Sunday in September of 2002. Amazingly, it worked.

Several uses for catenae can be imagined, especially for scholarship. First, text critics can easily refer to the locations in the early Church Fathers in which certain passages are cited. The English translation of the patristic texts can indicate textual variations to be verified by consulting a critical edition. Second, exegetes can use the comments made by the patristic authors in determining the sense of the passage or the way in which it could be taken. Third, patristic scholars gain a helpful tool for analysing how various Church Fathers interpreted the New Testament, which may shed light on the development of doctrine and practice in early Christianity.

There are 12,517 cross-references. By the nature of its method of compilation, this e-Catena project has a rightful claim to providing the most comprehensive collection of allusions from the Ante-Nicene Fathers to the New Testament texts. But it is not without its faults. Because the electronic version of the Ante-Nicene Fathers has a high incidence of transcription error, particularly with the chapter and verse numbers, some of the references are off. Also, it currently only recognizes one particular abbreviation for the name of each New Testament book and does not pick up whatever references may exist with different forms of the book name. Some of the fragments are of dubious authorship; also, spurious hits are found in the longer recension of the Ignatian epistles. Some of the allusions may be imaginary, and some allusions may go unmentioned. Texts not available to the nineteenth century ANF editors are not included. Nevertheless this compilation should prove to be highly valuable.

[Peter Kirby]