Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity is a dictionary by it;s very nature is looking at only the first several centuries (I do not have access to a copy but I would be surprised if it even gets up to Bede (735), The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church is or course going to be briefer, but does cover things till 2005. Like ukfraser it tends to be my goto for information. Helen's suggestion is not a bad one, I know you said you wanted something more up to date, but when dealing with ancient church history we are not making great strives in our understanding there (I am not saying there would be nothing new but very very little). Since I mentioned Bede the Venerable I will share for the two sources i own for you to see what they offer.
BEDE (Baeda) (c.673–735). Monk of Jarrow and “the Father of English history.” Born at Monkton on Tyne, County Durham, he was taken at the age of seven to the newly founded monastery of Wearmouth a few miles away, moving almost at once to become one of the first members of the community at Jarrow, near his birthplace. He spent the whole of the rest of his life there, never traveling outside Northumbria so far as is known, and yet he became one of the most learned men in Europe. The scholarship and culture of Italy had been brought to England by Theodore of Tarsus,* who was archbishop of Canterbury in the early years of Bede’s life, and it was introduced into Wearmouth and Jarrow by Benedict Biscop.* Here it coalesced with the simpler traditions of devotion and evangelism which came from the Celtic Church.* This caused Northumbria to be a beacon of Christian learning while darkness was gathering on the Continent, and Bede was the foremost example and promoter of that learning.
He grew up at Jarrow under Ceolfrith, from whom he learned the love of scholarship and personal devotion and discipline. When an epidemic swept the monastery, only Ceolfrith and Bede were left, and he records how they managed to maintain the regular divine worship. He was made deacon at the age of nineteen and priest at thirty by John of Beverley, bishop of Hexham. He learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He had a good knowledge of classical authors, which often had to be acquired from books of extracts or quotations in other people’s writings. He was familiar with the works of Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great, and he knew something of Anglo-Saxon poetry.
Bede’s writings cover a wide range, including natural history, chronology, biblical translation, and exposition. Most important was his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (“Church History of the English People”). He is described as “the Father of English history” partly because he was the first to try to write any kind of history of England at all, for he sets the story of the church in the general history of the nation. But this title is also due to him because of his methodology. His thorough scholarship is known, for example, by his asking friends to search the archives of the Roman Church and bring him copies of documents which he needed to see. He also had copies made of epitaphs. Where there was nothing in writing he tried to consult the best available oral tradition. He was not always critical, but his work is nonetheless invaluable and his stories are told with great charm. The account of his finishing his translation of John’s gospel before his death is deservedly famous. His fame continued after his death, when he began to be known as “the Venerable Bede.” His bones were removed to Durham to the coffin of Cuthbert, and in 1370 placed in a special tomb in the cathedral.
See his History, ed. B. Colgrave and R.A.B. Mynors (1969); and P.H. Blair, The World of Bede (1970).
NIDCC, s.v. “BEDE,” n.p.
Bede, St (c. 673–735), ‘The Venerable’, pedagogue, computist, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the foremost and most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England. The course of his uneventful life is known from the brief notice which he himself gave in the last chapter of his Historia Ecclesiastica: at the age of 7 he was given as an *oblate to the newly-founded monastery of *Wearmouth under the care of St *Benedict Biscop and subsequently, on the foundation of Jarrow in 682, was transferred to that abbey and to its abbot, Ceolfrith. Except for brief excursions to *Lindisfarne and *York, Bede spent the remainder of his life at Jarrow, devoting himself to reading, teaching, and the explication of Scripture. He was ordained deacon at the age of 19 and priested when he was 30; he died at Jarrow aged over 60.
Bede’s pedagogical writings include treatises De Orthographia, an alphabetically arranged glossary of Latin words which are capable of confusion or misunderstanding by beginners; De Arte Metrica, a lucid account of the principles underlying quantitative verse, based on Late Latin grammatical treatises but including many quotations from Christian Latin poets; and De Natura Rerum, a cursory exposition of natural phenomena such as the motion of the planets, eclipses, tides, etc., based mainly on Isidore and Pliny. Each of these pedagogical treatises survives in large numbers of manuscripts, indicating that they constituted an essential ingredient of the medieval curriculum. His computistical writings were equally influential. They include an early work, the De Temporibus, written to explain to his students the principles for the calculation of *Easter acc. to the Roman usage adopted by the Synod of *Whitby (664). This work was so highly compressed, however, that Bede later produced a longer and more discursive account of Paschal reckoning in his De Temporum Ratione (written in 725), and this work, which survives in some 250 manuscripts, proved to be the most widely studied computistical manual of the Middle Ages. Bede’s pedagogical instincts were, however, best applied to the explication of Scripture. For his biblical exegesis he used both the *Vulgate and the *Old Latin texts as well as (for Acts) the Greek text. His commentaries were largely based on the writings of St *Augustine, St *Jerome, St *Ambrose, and St *Gregory the Great, but they also embodied original comment: they were motivated above all by concern with clarity of exposition, and it was this concern which commended them to his contemporaries and successors. His commentaries include works on Gen. 1–20, Exod. 24:12–30:21, Sam., Kgs., Tobit, Song of Songs, Ez. and Neh., Mk., Lk., Acts, the *Catholic Epistles, and Rev. Bede’s interest in hagiography is reflected in the extensive revision which he made of the *Hieronymian Martyrologium (his revision does not survive in its pristine form) as well as in the prose Vita S. Felicis, a recasting of various poems by *Paulinus of Nola on St Felix. But it was his two Lives of St *Cuthbert—one in verse and a later one in prose (c. 721)—which secured Bede’s reputation as a hagiographer and the establishment of the cult of St Cuthbert throughout Europe. Whereas during the Middle Ages Bede was widely known for all facets of his scholarly work, he is best known today as a historian; indeed he has been called the ‘Father of English History’. His early interest in computus led him naturally to the study of chronology: to each of his major computistical treatises he appended a set of annals recording the history of the world from creation to his own day. The study of chronology culminated in the Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (completed in 731), one of the great works of medieval historiography and the single most important source for our understanding of early England.
To the end of his life Bede was occupied in teaching and expounding Scripture, as we learn from an eyewitness account of his last days by a devoted student (the Epistula Cuthberti de obitu Bedae). In a letter written towards the end of his life and addressed to *Egbert (Abp of *York, 732–66) he emphasized the importance of episcopal visitation, Confirmation, and frequent Communion as the remedy for the ills of the time. Less than a century after his death he was honoured with the title of Venerable, and in the 11th cent. his bones were translated to *Durham; a conspicuous tomb in the cathedral still commemorates him. In 1899 *Leo XIII declared him a ‘*Doctor of the Church’. Feast day, 25 (formerly 27) May.
Collected Works pub. in 3 vols., Paris, 1521–36, also ed., with Eng. tr., by J. A. Giles (12 vols., London, 1843–4); Lat. text repr. in J. P. Migne, PL 90–5. Crit. edn. in CCSL 118–23 (1955 ff. incl. his biblical comms.). Other edns. of his Opera Historica by C. Plummer (with notes, Oxford, 1896) and of his Historia Ecclesiastica, with Eng. tr., by B. Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford Medieval Texts, 1969; historical comm. by J. M. Wallace-Hadrill, ibid., 1988); of his prose Life of St Cuthbert, with Eng. tr., by B. Colgrave, Two Lives of St Cuthbert (Cambridge, 1940; repr. 1985), pp. 142–307 and 341–59; of his metrical Life of St Cuthbert by W. Jaager (Palaestra, 198; 1935); of his Expositio Actuum Apostolorum et Retractatio, by M. L. W. Laistner (Mediaeval Academy of America, Publication 35; 1939; repr. in CCSL 121, pp. 1–178); and of his Opera de Temporibus, by C. W. Jones (Mediaeval Academy of America, Publication, 41; 1943; text of De Temporum Ratione repr., with glosses from a MS written in 873/4, in CCSL 123, pp. 263–460; Eng. tr. of this by F. Wallis (Translated Texts for Historians, 29; Liverpool, 1999). Eng. tr. of six Biblical texts by W. T. Foley and A. G. Holder (ibid. 28; 1999) M. L. W. Laistner and H. H. King, A Hand-List of Bede Manuscripts (New York, 1943). C. W. Jones, Bedae Pseudepigrapha: Scientific Writings Falsely, Attributed to Bede (1939). A. H. Thompson (ed.), Bede: His Life, Times and Writings. Essays in Commemoration of the Twelfth Centenary of his Death (Oxford, 1935); three essays by B. *Capelle, OSB, M. Inguanez, OSB, and Beda Thum, OSB, S. Beda Venerabilis (Studia Anselmiana, 6; 1936); G. [I.] Bonner (ed.), Famulus Christi: Essays in Commemoration of the Thirteenth Centenary of the Birth of the Venerable Bede (1976). G. H. Brown, Bede the Venerable (1987). P. H. Blair, The World of World of Bede (1970). J. Campbell, Essays in Anglo-Saxon History (1986), pp. 1–48 and 85–119 [repr. four items orig. pub. between 1966 and 1979, with additional notes]. G. Tugene, L’idée de nation chez Bède le Venerable (Études Augustiniennes, Série Moyen Âge et Temps Modernes, 37; 2001). B. Ward, SLG, The Venerable Bede (Outstanding Christian Thinkers, 1990). CPL (3rd edn., 1995), pp. 444–58 (nos. 1343–84) and pp. 737 f. (nos. 2318–2323b). I. Cecchetti in Bibliotheca Sanctorum, 2 (Rome, 1962), cols. 1006–1072, s.v. ‘Beda’, with extensive refs.
F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 178–179.
PS:I went to the IVP web page and it does cover Bede and a couple other 8th century people but it states it primarily not going beyond the fourth century.