One of the most extensive resources on the internet for the study of early Christianity

In the year 362 the Emperor Julian passed a law which effectively prevented Christians from teaching Greek and Latin classical literature. It is often called Julian's "Rescript on Teachers".

Letter 36

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more about our use of cookies here.

Click here to read at in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is by William C. Wright.

  • Is like an electronic encyclopedia of the first five centuries of Church History, with extensive links (subscription version only) to information on around 800 people and themes, and around 230 Church Councils;

  • Is a Reader in Early Christian History and Theology with 225+ carefully prepared on-site texts (Greek and/or Latin with English translation alongside) from the first five centuries of the life of the Church. These cover a range of significant themes and represent several authors (a sample text is here and a complete list of on-site texts here). All have dictionary lookup links. There is also an introduction to each text (to help in understanding its context and significance) together with background notes linked with the text, carefully prepared printable versions, a site search engine and many other helpful features;

  • Gives easy access to complete Greek and Latin texts which are in the public domain and translations (where found available) from the first five centuries. There are carefully indexed links to authors and their works, including an index of commentaries, homilies etc. by biblical book. Nearly all of the Greek and Latin texts from this period contained in the Migne Patrologia series are covered. Some other sources are also used. The texts used are the scanned versions available at Google Books and elsewhere. A distinctive feature of the Early Church Texts website is that where English translations have been found available online they can easily be read immediately alongside the original Greek and Latin. (A complete list of authors represented is here. A sample text is here.)

Try out the feature rich subscription version of the Early Church Texts website for just $5 for a trial period or $30 for a year ($15 student rate). Click here for more information. Check out the video demo of the site. Click here to go to the Early Church Texts Home Page for the publicly available version of the site which has just the original Greek and Latin texts with dictionary lookup links.


iPad at Amazon

Click on picture for more details.

 For UK click here.


Relevant books
available at Amazon

coming soon...

I hold that a proper education results, not in laboriously acquired symmetry of phrases and language, but in a healthy condition of mind, I mean a mind that has understanding and true opinions about things good and evil, honourable and base. Therefore, when a man thinks one thing and teaches his pupils another, in my opinion he fails to educate exactly in proportion as he fails to be an honest man. And if the divergence between a man’s convictions and his utterances is merely in trivial matters, that can be tolerated somehow, though it is wrong. But if in matters of the greatest importance a man has certain opinions and teaches the contrary, what is that but the conduct of hucksters, and not honest but thoroughly dissolute men in that they praise most highly the things that they believe to be most worthless, thus cheating and enticing by their praises those to whom they desire to transfer their worthless wares. Now all who profess to teach anything whatever ought to be men of upright character, and ought not to harbour in their souls opinions irreconcilable with what they publicly profess; and, above all, I believe it is necessary that those who associate with the young and teach them rhetoric should be of upright character; for they expound the writings of the ancients, whether they be rhetoricians or grammarians, and still more if they are sophists. For these claim to teach, in addition to other things, not only the use of words, but morals also, and they assert that political philosophy is their peculiar field. Let us leave aside, for the moment, the question whether this is true or not. But while I applaud them for aspiring to such high pretensions, I should applaud them still more if they did not utter falsehoods and convict themselves of thinking one thing and teaching their pupils another. What! Was it not the gods who revealed all their learning to Homer, Hesiod, Demosthenes, Herodotus, Thucydides, Isocrates and Lysias? Did not these men think that they were consecrated, some to Hermes, others to the Muses? I think it is absurd that men who expound the works of these writers should dishonour the gods whom they used to honour. Yet, though I think this absurd, I do not say that they ought to change their opinions and then instruct the young. But I give them this choice: either not to teach what they do not think admirable, or, it they wish to teach, let them first really persuade their pupils that neither Homer nor Hesiod nor any of these writers whom they expound and have declared to be guilty of impiety, folly and error in regard to the gods, is such as they declare. For since they make a livelihood and receive pay from the works of those writers, they thereby confess that they are most shamefully greedy of gain, and that, for the sake of a few drachmae, they would put up with anything. It is true that, until now, there were many excuses for not attending the temples, and the terror that threatened on all sides absolved men for concealing the truest beliefs about the gods. But since the gods have granted us liberty, it seems to me absurd that men should teach what they do not believe to be sound. But if they believe that those whose interpreters they are and for whom they sit, so to speak, in the seat of the prophets, were wise men, let them be the first to emulate their piety towards the gods. If, however, they think that those writers were in error with respect to the most honoured gods, then let them betake themselves to the churches of the Galilaeans to expound Matthew and Luke, since you Galilaeans are obeying them when you ordain that men shall refrain from temple-worship. For my part, I wish that your ears and your tongues might be “born anew,” as you would say, as regards these things in which may I ever have part, and all who think and act as is pleasing to me.

For religious and secular teachers let there be a general ordinance to this effect: Any youth who wishes to attend the schools is not excluded; nor indeed would it be reasonable to shut out from the best way boys who are still too ignorant to know which way to turn, and to overawe them into being led against their will to the beliefs of their ancestors. Though indeed it might be proper to cure these, even against their will, as one cures the insane, except that we concede indulgence to all for this sort of disease. For we ought, I think, to teach, but not punish, the demented.


Mac Users please note that the site may not work with Safari versions lower than version 4. (It has been tested with version 4.0.3.) It will work with Firefox, which can be downloaded from here.

Please note that for all features of the site to work correctly javascript must be enabled and the operation of "pop-up" windows must not be blocked. Click here for more information.











Emperor Julian
Julian the Apostate
Rescript on Christian Teachers
Rescript on Teachers
Latin and Greek Literature
Julian forbids Christians to teach the Greek and and Latin Classics
Restoration of paganism in Roman Empire
Wright Loeb edition of Julian


Back to Entry Page