Jacques Paul Migne’s Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca forms the largest collection ever published of the extant writings of the Greek Fathers and Doctors of the early and medieval Church. It served as the translation base for Philip Schaff’s Early Church Fathers and has been the bedrock for theological and historical studies of the time period extending from the Apostolic Fathers in the late first or early second century to the fifteenth century.
Between 1857 and 1866, the abbé Jacques Paul Migne, an industrious French priest, published the 161 volumes that make up the Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca, roughly translated “Complete Course on Patrology, Greek Series,” and commonly referred to as “Patrologia Graeca” (PG). These volumes contain much of the available witness in Greek to the writings of the Fathers of the early and medieval Church. Each volume of the Patrologia Graeca contains not only the Greek editions of the writings of the Fathers, but also lengthy dissertations, introductions, and other supplementary material. Many editions even contain notes on textual variants found among other manuscripts, along with explanatory material written in Latin. In addition to the 161 volumes of the PG (166 print volumes), the Logos edition also includes the later published index to the PG compiled by Ferdinandus Cavallera. With it, you can find entries by author, work, date, or subject.
The 38-volume edition of the Early Church Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff, used many of the Patrologia Graeca volumes as its translation base, but the Patrologia Graeca contains many works of the Church Fathers not translated by Schaff and not available in English. For those who have the Logos editions of Schaff’s Early Church Fathers, the Patrologia Graeca encodes links to the material in common, allowing access to an English translation. More importantly, for those wanting to read the texts translated by Schaff in their original language, the Patrologia Graeca is a must. For example, with the Patrologia Graeca, you can read in the original language the writings of the Cappadocian Fathers whose works were so important for precisely formulating the doctrine of the Trinity against Sabellianism on the one hand or tritheism on the other.
These volumes are not facsimile editions of page scans; they are full-blown, full-text Logos resources. Search, for example, for every occurrence of the words “θεοτοκος” or “ομοουσιος” to trace the important debates surrounding the deity of Christ. (Morphological tagging may be added later depending on interest.) Each volume of the Patrologia Graeca is navigable by page number or column number (the primary method of citation of the Patrologia Graeca), linked to many Logos books, and indexed by author and work. Further detail (chapter, section, verse) will depend upon each work itself and reflect the divisions marked by Migne.
Be sure to also get Migne's monumental work on the Latin Fathers, the Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Latina (221 vols.). And to round out your collection of the church Fathers in their original languages, don't forget the Patrologia Syriaca (vols. 1-2) and Orientalis (vols. 1-14, 16) which contain the Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, Greek, Georgian, Slavonic, and Syriac writings of the Fathers of the Eastern Church.
A new era was initiated in the 19th century by the Frenchman J.-P. Migne (1800–1875), who was the first to publish all the works of the church fathers according to the best available editions. His Patrologia latina appeared in 221 volumes (1844–64), and, with Latin translations, his Patrologia graeca in 161 volumes (1857–66) . . . scholars all over the world continue to depend on them . . .
Students should be especially alert to the value of both the contents of and the indices to the major series edited by Jacques-Paul Migne, the Patrologia Latina and the Patrologia Graeca.
—Church History: An Introduction to Research, Reference Works, and Methods, by James E. Bradley and Richard A. Muller
The most complete collection of patristic texts, which needs to be consulted when no critical text is available . . .
. . . the two Patrologia remain the standard edition for much of the religious Latin and Greek literature of the patristic and medieval periods.
—A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing, vol. 2, by D. R. Woolf
Not only does it usually give the best texts which were available at the time of its publication, but it adds to them a store of notes, introductions, and dissertations by well-known Patristic scholars.
. . . PG and PL are still the standard means of reference and citation for most patristic authors.
—The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia, Rev. and expanded ed., by Michael Glazier and Monika K. Hellwig
Jacques Paul Migne (1800–1875) was a notable priest and publisher in nineteenth-century France. He studied theology at Orleans, before becoming ordained in the diocese of Orleans in 1824. After publishing a controversial pamphlet, Migne was forced to leave his parish. He moved to Paris, where he founded the journal L’Univers religieux, which he edited until 1836.
In 1836, Migne founded a publishing company designed to distribute theological works cheaply for a wide audience. For nearly three decades, Migne published hundreds of volumes of Greek, Latin, and Syriac writings from the first 15 centuries of Christianity. He published continually until his publishing company was destroyed by fire in 1868, and his publishing was further hampered in 1870 by the Franco-German War. His enormous contribution to Patristics in the Patrologia Latina and Patrologia Graeca continues to be a standard among scholars today.