The Database

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This database represents a comprehensive survey of Pauline references in pre-Nicene writings. It is searchable both by Pauline epistle and passage as well as by early Christian writers and their texts, by region, and by approximate date.
The database also includes a number of visualisations, created from the data, which are available to use and download. Details of the visualisations can be found below under the "Interactive Visualisations of the Data" tab.
Each entry into the database comprises: Epistle, chapter and verses, early Christian writer, early Christian text, location within early Christian text, region and approximate date of the early Christian text. Moreover, since these references are drawn from a wide range of resources (see Resources Section below) a number of entries include data about the state of the reference (Reference, Possible Reference, Reference not Found). This part of the database is a work-in-progress. Finally, a number of references also include links to the biblical text.

This database serves as a resource for those interested in the large number of references to the letters attributed to Paul within early Christian writings and as a tool for further research in reception historical studies. Our hope is that this database can provide a solid foundation for engaging with Pauline references in early Christian writings and as a starting point for examining how early Christians were using these texts.

The most subjective part of this database is the column which indicates the relationship between the scriptural passage as presently known and the reference as found in the early Christian text. An ongoing project is the division of each entry into one of three groups: references, possible references, and reference not found.

A reference is what many scholars might defind as a quotation, direct attribution, or paraphrase. It need not be verbatim and may include multiple sentences from the Pauline epistles or only a few words. A reference is identified through the context in which the words or phrases occur with some kind of marker to signify the use of a secondary text. It is most easily identified when the ancient authors tell us they are referring to a scriptural text, although this is not always the case and different authors use different techniques when they quote from or paraphrase Scripture.

A possible reference is a phrase or series of words where similarities between the Pauline passage and early Christian texts can be detected and where it could be identified as a reference were the context to allow. With a possible reference, neither the context nor the content of the surrounding text allows certainty about whether it is a clear reference to and dependent upon Pauline material. At times, these references have few literal correspondences to teh Pauline text listed and instead allude to the text in theme, thought, or through a few words. Some scholars categorize these examples as reminiscences or even echoes. For these, the verdict is open as to whether such examples are a Pauline reference and thus they are categorized as possible.

The final category of texts are identified as reference not found. This category includes texts listed in secondary sources as containing references to Pauline material but in which, upon looking at the context and content of the text, the corresponding Pauline passage cannot be identified or detected. This category also includes a few works listed in Biblia Patristica, patricularly fragments of Origen, which could not be located. These passages remain in the database since some serve as a potential critique, suggesting that the secondary source in which the reference was found is probably incorrect.

The Database default is to show all possible references to letters attributed to Paul in early Christian writings. Options to limit your search are many and each search may be downloaded as a CSV or Excel file. To download your search, simply click on the CSV or Excel tab at the top left side of the database.

To the left of each Epistle entry is a green "+" which when clicked will show any information not included on your screen such as region, approximate date of the early Christian text, and a link to the biblical text where available.


To limit the data to a specific region, you can delete the options from the bar at the top of the database ("Include only these regions in the table"). The early Christian writers are divided into 8 regions based on the location of their writing according to Sources Chrétiennes. The database default is to show results from all regions.


To limit the search to one Pauline epistle and/or by a specific range according to chapter and verse, type in the epistle you would like to search into the text box under "Epistle". You can then limit further by Start/End Chapter and/or Start/End Verse by adjusting the bars that appear when you click on the box under each of those headings.


To limit the search by Early Christian Writer and/or Text, type in the name of the writer (e.g. Origen) in the box under "Early Christian Writer" or the name of an Early Christian Text (in English; e.g. "Against Marcion") in the box under "Reference Text". Where available, results can also be limited by the place of the reference with the early Christian text ("Start/End Reference").


To limit the search by the date of an Early Christian Text (Reference Text), adjust the bars that appear when you click on the box under "Reference Date Start" and "Reference Date End".

Dates for the texts are according to Sources Chrétiennes and are often a range. All dates are Common Era.


The database includes early Christian writings which quote from another early Christian text that uses a Pauline epistle. For example, 1 Corinthians 11.19 is used by Origen in one of his writings. This part of Origen is quoted in Pamphilus' Apology for Origen and also appears in the database as 1 Corinthians 11.19. The quotation of Origen using a Pauline epistle as found in the writing of Pamphilus is a "secondary quotation." If you would like to exclude all secondary quotations from your search, select "true" from the box under "Secondary Quotation". An "X" in that column indicates that the sources is not a secondary quotation.


This column remains a work in progress, though more than 5000 entries are already updated. The status of a reference is divided into three possible options: Reference, Possible Reference, and Reference not found. The database can be limited by the Reference Status by typing one of these options into the text box in this column. What each option means is described in greater detail above in the "Overview".

The data within the Database was used to create a number of visualisations as tools for further research. These may be found under the Database tab above. Once the Database is loaded, the Visualisations can be found on tabs at the very top. There are two kinds of visualisations: Epistle Usage Visualisations and Early Christian Writer Visualisations. Clicking on sections of each visualistion will give further data and detail.

Epistle Usage Visualisations

These visualisations are divided into three categories.

By Century: This visualisation plots the use of each Pauline epistle by century

By Early Christian Author: This visualisation plots the use of each Pauline Epistle by early Christian author. This section is broken into two tables, one for 100+ epistle references and one for fewer than 100 epistle references.

By Region: This visualisation plots the use of each Pauline epistle across the eight regions used in this database.

Early Christian Writer Visualisations

These visualisations allow you to choose any early Christian writer represented in the database.

Each writer's visualisation includes a plot of all of the writings attributed to them (writings with a "?" are uncertain) and the use of each Pauline epistle in that writing. The usage is represented by the size of a sphere and if you click on the sphere, you will find the exact number of references to that Pauline epistle in each early Christian text.

Biblia Patristica: Index des citations et allusions bibliques dans la littérature patristique. 7 vols. Paris, 1975-
Biblindex (online here)
Cetedoc: Centre de Traitement Electronique des Documents, Library of Christian Latin Texts (available online here, though access to the database is by login only).
COMPAUL Project at the University of Birmingham with its comprehensive Database of Quotations here.
Fathers of the Church. 127 vols. Washington, D.C., 1947-
Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte. 74 vols. 1897- (online link to many of the volumes is here).
Migne, Jacques Paul, ed. Patrologiae cursus completes: Series latina. 217 vols. Paris ,1844-64 (many volumes are online here).
Migne, Jacques Paul, ed. Patrologiae cursus completes: Series graeca. 162 vols. Patis 1857-66 (many volumes are online here).
Sources chrétiennes. 584 vols. Paris: Cerf, 1943-
Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (online; the page is here but access to the database is by login and password only)
List of site pages