11 Best 3rd Century Authors To Study (2024)

Discover our guide to the best 3rd century authors who defined religious ideologies and philosophical views of the day.

These best 3rd-century authors and their works continue to be studied by the general public and literary scholars. They are highly valued for their contributions to early Christian thought and theology development. The 3rd century was a time of great intellectual ferment and cultural transformation. During this period, many brilliant minds emerged and left their mark on history through their writings.

The writings of this day primarily centered around an understanding of theology, sociology, and philosophy. Thus, many of the writers on our list are religious leaders, some of whom even attained sainthood after death. Whether you’re a student of history or literature or just a curious reader, these authors are sure to provide insights, inspiration, and a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the 3rd century. If you like this, you’ll love our round-up of the best 7th century authors!

Here Are The Best 3rd Century Authors

1. Plotinus, 204 – 270

Plotinus via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Plotinus was a Greek philosopher and the founder of Neoplatonism, a philosophical movement that influenced the development of Christian and Islamic philosophy. Notably, Plotinus harbored a deep dislike of all material matter, including his own body. Purportedly, he believed that all materials were a poor representation of a higher and more intelligent being. His major work, The Enneads, is a collection of his philosophical writings. The work depicts the author’s belief that a supreme being, or “One,” is the epitome of goodness and beauty.

“I am striving to give back the Divine in myself to the Divine in the All.”

Plotinus, The Enneads

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2. Novatian, 200 – 258

Novatian was an early Christian priest and theologian. He is best known for his writings on the subjects of the Trinity, the sacraments, and the Church organization. His treatise On the Trinity is a significant early Christian work. He is notable for using Latin when there was much upset about lapsed Christians in the faith and how to deal with them.

Novation supported the issuance of penance for repented “sinners” and acceptance back into the fold. Nevertheless, Novation became known as an “antipope” because he was outspoken about his opposition to Pope Cornelius, whose views he disagreed with. In return, Pope Cornelius wrote that Satan had possessed Novatian for an entire season. You might also be interested in our round-up of the best 10th century authors.

“Since He is begotten of the Father, He is always in the Father. I say “always,” however, in such a manner, not to prove that He is unborn, but born.”

Novatian, On the Trinity
The Trinity, The Spectacles, Jewish Foods, In Praise of Purity, Letters (Fathers of the Church Patristic Series)
  • Novatian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 236 Pages - 01/01/1974 (Publication Date) - The Catholic University of America Press (Publisher)

3. Hippolytus of Rome, 170 – 235

Hippolytus of Rome
Hippolytus of Rome via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Hippolytus of Rome was an early Christian bishop and martyr. He wrote extensively on theological and biblical subjects and is best known for his work Refutation of All Heresies, a comprehensive critique of various early Christian heresies. He is also the author of Apostolic Tradition, which lays out the liturgical and disciplinary practices of the early church.

Both works provide valuable insights into early Christian theology and practice. He is known today for his strong opposition to the teachings of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Callistus, leading to his ex-communication and eventual martyrdom.

“We propose to furnish an account of the tenets of natural philosophers, and who these are, as well as the tenets of moral philosophers, and who these are; and thirdly, the tenets of logicians, and who these logicians are.”

Hippolytus of Rome, Refutation of All Heresies
The Refutation of All Heresies
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Of Rome, Hippolytus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 454 Pages - 03/14/2013 (Publication Date) - Fig (Publisher)

4. Tertullian, 155 – 220

Tertullian via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Tertullian was an early Christian writer and apologist. He wrote extensively on apologetics, theology, and Church practices. His works, including Apology and On the Flesh of Christ, are important in developing early Christian thought. The Complete Works of Tertullian has been conveniently published for modern-day readers.

“We meet together to pray, even for the emperors and authorities, to hear readings from the holy books and exhortations. We judge and separate those who fall into crime.”

Tertullian, Apology
The Complete Works of Tertullian (33 Books): Cross-Linked to the Bible
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Tertullian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 4584 Pages - 12/05/2016 (Publication Date)

5. Clement of Alexandria, 150 – 215

Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Clement of Alexandria was a Christian theologian and philosopher. He was the head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, where he taught and wrote extensively on various subjects, including apologetics, ethics, and biblical interpretation. His most famous work is The Stromata, a collection of miscellaneous writings. Clement is known for his emphasis on Christian philosophy and his synthesis of Greek philosophy with Christian theology.

“And if knowledge belongs to all (set an ass to the lyre, as the proverb goes), yet written compositions are for the many.”

Clement of Alexandria The Stromata
The Stromata
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Of Alexandria, Clement (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 613 Pages - 03/06/2013 (Publication Date) - Fig (Publisher)

6. Origen of Alexandria, 185 – 253

Origen of Alexandria
Origen of Alexandria via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Origen was a Christian theologian, scholar, and writer. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and was the head of the Catechetical School there. He was one of the most influential figures in early Christian thought, and his works on biblical interpretation and theology continue to be studied and debated.

Origen is known for his extensive commentaries on the Bible, including his work On First Principles, which lays out his systematic theology and philosophical views. Origen’s views on the pre-existence of souls, the ultimate restoration of all things, and his innovative interpretation of the Bible earned him both praise and criticism during his lifetime.

“He makes Himself known to those who, after doing all that their powers will allow, confess that they need help from Him.”

Origen of Alexandria, On First Principles
On First Principles
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Adamantius, Origen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 246 Pages - 01/05/2013 (Publication Date) - Fig (Publisher)

7. Cyprian, 210 – 258

Cyprian via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Cyprian was a Bishop of Carthage and a prominent figure in early Christianity. He wrote extensively on various subjects, including the role of bishops, the sacraments, and the treatment of heretics. His treatise On the Unity of the Church is a significant work on the importance of Church unity.

Cyprian was born in North Africa and became a Bishop at the age of only 39. He was highly looked up to for his constant ability to pastor his flock. During his time, he and his congregation weathered the Novatianist heresy and the plague of Cyprian. Cyprian was martyred for his beliefs and teachings. After his death, he was declared a saint.

“No one can have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”

Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church
On The Church: Select Treatises (Popular Patristics Series Book 32)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • St Cyprian of Carthage (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 168 Pages - 03/29/2011 (Publication Date) - St Vladimir's Seminary Press (Publisher)

8. Methodius of Olympus, 260 – 311

Methodius of Olympus
Methodius of Olympus via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Methodius was a bishop and theologian influential in developing early Christian thought in the eastern Mediterranean. He died a martyr and was given sainthood after his death. He is best known for his treatises On Free Will and On the Resurrection, considered significant works of early Christian apologetics and theology.

He refuted Origen’s claim that the resurrection body differed from the physical body during life in On the Resurrection. He was the first theologian to speak out publicly against Origen, which made him unpopular during his time.

“Man was not made for destruction, but for better things.”

Methodius of Olympus, On Free Will
The Writings of Methodius, Alexander of Lycopolis, Peter of Alexandria: And Several Fragments
  • Alexander, Of Lycopolis (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 512 Pages - 10/27/2022 (Publication Date) - Legare Street Press (Publisher)

9. Aelius Galenus, 129 – 216

Aelius Galenus
Aelius Galenus via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Aelius Galenus, commonly referred to as Galen, was a Greek physician, philosopher, and writer. He was one of the most influential figures in the development of Western medicine, and his works on anatomy and physiology continue to be widely studied and referenced. His major work is On the Natural Faculties.

Interestingly, Galen is considered one of the greatest physicians of the ancient world, and his writings were highly influential in the development of medieval and Renaissance medicine. He made important contributions to our modern understanding of anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology, and his work was used as a textbook for centuries.

“Those who are enslaved to their sects are not merely devoid of all sound knowledge, but they will not even stop to learn!”

Aelius Galenus, On the Natural Faculties
Galen on the Natural Faculties
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Galenus, Aelius (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 454 Pages - 07/23/2022 (Publication Date) - Cajesche Publishing (Publisher)

10. Irenaeus, 120 – 202

Irenaeus via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Irenaeus was a bishop of Lyons and a prominent figure in early Christianity. He wrote extensively on various subjects, including apologetics, biblical interpretation, and the treatment of heretics. His most significant work is Against Heresies, a comprehensive critique of various early Christian heresies. He is known for his leadership of and contribution to the growth of Christian communities in what is now the south of France and, more generally, for the advancement of Christian theology via the fight against heresy and the definition of orthodoxy.

“The business of the Christian is nothing else but to be ever preparing for death.”

Irenaeus, Against Heresies
Against Heresies
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • St. Irenaeus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 518 Pages - 03/25/2012 (Publication Date) - Veritatis Splendor Publications (Publisher)

11. Victorinus of Pettau, ? – 304

Victorinus of Pettau
Victorinus of Pettau via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Victorinus of Pettau was an early Christian bishop and writer. He wrote extensively on biblical interpretation, Church practices, and theological controversies. His Commentary on the Apocalypse is considered one of the earliest and most important exegetical works in the Book of Revelations from the Bible.

In addition to this work, Victorinus of Pettau also wrote commentaries on other sections of the Bible, including Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Isaiah, and more. The only surviving one is the Commentary mentioned above on the Apocalypse and a short writing entitled, On the Construction of the World. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best 14th century authors!

“Therefore is every scribe instructed in the kingdom of God like a man, that is a father of a family, bringing forth from his treasure things new and old.”

Victorinus of Pettau, Commentary on the Apocalypse
Commentary on the Apocalypse
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Victorinus Of Pettau (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 68 Pages - 03/14/2013 (Publication Date) - Fig (Publisher)