Saint John the
HST 500: Patristic Church
3 Credit Hours
This course is an investigation of the main theological issues,
theologians, and religious movements in the early church. It covers the
period from the second to the fifth century, from Apostolic Fathers to
Augustine, form Gnosticism to Pelagianism. It provides an initial answer
to the question “How did we get this way?” and lays a foundation for
understanding medieval and early modern Christian thought—and also for
one’s self-understanding as a Christian in the 21st century.
Hall, S. G. Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.
McGuckin, J. A. The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology.
Westminster John Knox, 2004.
Wilken, R. L. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of
Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.
1. Introduction: “What is Historical Theology?”
2. Apostolic Fathers and Apologists—(Hall 1, 3, 5; Wilken 1) TEXTS:
Justin Martyr First Apology 5-23.
3. Baptism—(Hall 2; Wilken 2) TEXT: Cyril of Jerusalem Cathecetical
4. “Heresies”—(Hall 4) TEXT: Gospel of Truth; (in class, Marcion
Antitheses 4, 7-
12, 18, 24, 28; Eusebius Church History V.16).
5. Authority Controversy; Alexandrian Theology I (mystical
7, 10, 17; Wilken 12) TEXT: Origen Prol. to the Commentary on the Song
Songs; (in class, examples of the regula fidei; Origen Homily XXVII on
6. Alexandrian Theology II (systematic theology); Origen and Augustine
Scripture—(Hall 11, 18; Wilken 3) TEXTS: Origen Pref. to The First
and IV.1-3; Augustine On Christian Teaching 3.1.1-3.5.9.
7. Ecclesiological Controversy—(Hall 8, 9, 12) TEXTS: Augustine Ep.
Acts of Abitinian Martyrs; (in class, Cyprian of Carthage On the Unity
Catholic Church 4-6).
8. MIDTERM; Trinitarian Controversy I (Monarchianism, Arianism)—(Hall
14) TEXTS: Arius Statement of Faith, excerpts from Thalia; Athanasius
Arians, Book I; (in class, Origen Dialogue with Heraclides 1-4,
9. Trinitarian Controversy II (Anomoeans, Cappadocian Fathers, Western
Trinitarian Theology)—(Hall 15, 16; Wilken 4) TEXTS: Eunomius Apology
Basil On the Holy Spirit 6-11, 16-19; Augustine On the Trinity, Book
class, Gregory of Nyssa On the Difference Between Ousia and Hypostasis
Basil Ep. 38]).
10.The Seven Ecumenical Councils—(Handout: J. Pelikan, Credo, Ch. 13,
14.3); (in class, Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, Chalcedon’s
11. Christological Controversy I (Arianism, Apollinarianism,
20) TEXT: Cyril of Alexandria Explanation of the Twelve Chapters; (in
of John 97-104; Cyril Ep. 39.5; Formula of Reunion).
12. Christological Controversy II (Monophysitism, Neo-Chalcedonianism,
Monothelitism, Iconoclastic Controversy)—(Hall 21; Wilken 5, 10) TEXTS:
Maximus Opus. 3; Theodore of Studite On the Holy Icons 2.2-4; (in class,
Synodikon [sections on icons]).
13. Pelagianism and Augustinianism I (grace, free will, original
TEXTS: Augustine On Free Choice of the Will, Book III; Id., Nature and
14. Pelagianism and Augustinianism II (foreknowledge and
TEXT: Augustine On the Gift of Perseverance 1-13.
15. FINAL EXAM; (Hall, 22)