North Africa: Recommended resources

Books and essays

• Timothy Barnes, Tertullian: A Historical and Literary Study. Introduces Tertullian’s life and thought.

• Gerald Bray, Holiness and the Will of God: Perspectives on the Theology of Tertullian.

• Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo. Classic biography of Augustine.

• Massimo Capuani, Christian Egypt: Coptic Art and Monuments through Two Millennia.

Classics of Western Spirituality series published by Paulist Press. Includes volumes containing writings of Augustine, John Cassian, Origen, and Jewish North African philosopher Philo of Alexandria.

• Niall Finneran, The Archaeology of Christianity in Africa. Takes a comprehensive look at African Christianity all the way from ancient Egypt to modern western missionary activity.

• Thomas Heffernan, The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity. Newly translates this important text of early African martyrdom.

• Margaret R. Miles, “Roman North African Christian Spiritualities,” in Rereading Historical Theology. Surveys both mainstream and alternative groups for common themes.

• Thomas Oden, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind. Surveys “the decisive role of African Christians and theologians in shaping the doctrines and practices of the church of the first five centuries.” Also The African Memory of Mark, which explores the belief that Mark founded the church in Alexandria; and Early Libyan Christianity.

• Eric Osborn, Clement of Alexandria. Provides a comprehensive introduction to Clement’s theology. Also his Tertullian: First Theologian of the West.

• Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels. While not without controversy, this is the classic study of the texts discovered at Nag Hammadi.

• D. W. Phillipson, The Ancient Churches of Ethiopia. Gives “a comprehensive account of Ethiopian Christian civilization and its churches—both built and rock-hewn—from the Aksumite period to the thirteenth century.”

• Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. Prophecy in Carthage: Perpetua, Tertullian and Cyprian. Discusses the writings of these three early Christians, focusing on their roles as prophets and visionaries.

• Michael Sage, Cyprian. Explores Cyprian’s social and political context.

• Edward Smither, Augustine as Mentor: A Model for Preparing Spiritual Leaders. Examines the lessons we can learn today from Augustine’s pastoral career.

• Maureen Tilley, Donatist Martyr Stories: The Church in Conflict in Roman North Africa. Portrays martyrs from one of the schisms that afflicted the early African church. Also her essay, “The Collapse of a Collegial Church: North African Christianity on the Eve of Islam.”

• Agostino Trape, Augustine: Man, Pastor, Mystic. Tells the story of Augustine’s life.

• Joseph Trigg, Origen. Origen’s theology with translations of a number of his writings, showing how he “provided a lasting framework for Christian theology by finding through study of the Bible a coherent understanding of God’s saving plan.” Also his Origen: The Bible and Philosophy in the Third-century Church, an intellectual biography.

• Frederick Van der Meer, Augustine the Bishop. The classic study of Augustine in his church context.


• Center for Early African Christianity,

• The Tertullian Project, Everything you ever wanted to know about Tertullian but were afraid to ask.

• “Augustine of Hippo” at and “Finding Augustine” at illuminate the life and teachings of Augustine.

Texts by and about many of the people discussed in this issue can be read at “Christian Classics Ethereal Library,”; New Advent’s, “The Fathers of the Church,”; and “Early Christian Writings,”

Biographical sketches of memorable Christians of the past appear at, which includes biographies and prayers celebrating the lives and ministries of Perpetua, Clement, Cyprian, Pachomius, Anthony, Athanasius, Augustine, and Cyril.

English-language websites of churches in the Oriental Orthodox tradition include:

• The Christian Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt,

• The Coptic Church Network (linking Copts in North America),

• Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church,

• Eritrean Orthodox Diocese of North America,

Bibliographies for the study of theology by Fr. William Harmless, S.J. of Creighton University appear online at In each case Harmless identifies the two or three best titles to start with on the topic. The lists include:

• “Origen and the Rise of Biblical Scholarship,” incorporating Clement, Tertullian, Cyprian, and general North African Christianity

• “Athanasius and the Trinitarian Controversy”

• “Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy”

• “Augustine”

• “Anthony and Early Monasticism”

Related DVDs from vision video

Augustine: A Voice for All Generations

Perpetua, Early Church Martyr

Polycarp and Perpetua

Pioneers of the Spirit: Augustine of Hippo

Torchlighters® episodes for children on Perpetua and Augustine

The Dawning: Christianity in the Roman Empire

Trial and Testimony of the Early Church

An Empire Conquered, on early Christian martyrs

Against Great Odds, on the survival and growth of a modern Ethiopian church

African Christianiy Rising, on the current African church

Past Christian History issues

15: St. Augustine of Hippo

27: Persecution in the Early Church

51: Heresy in the Early Church

54: Eastern Orthodoxy

57: Converting the Empire: Early Church Evangelism

64: Anthony and the Desert Fathers: Extreme Faith

67: St. Augustine: Sinner, Bishop, Saint

74: Christians and Muslims

79: African Apostles: Black Evangelists in Africa

80: The First Bible Teachers

85: The Council of Nicaea: Debating Jesus’ Divinity

96: The Gnostic Hunger for Secret Knowledge


Back issues of Christian History can be read in full at

DVDs and print copies of many back issues of Christian History magazine are available for purchase at

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #105 in 2013]

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