This unit introduces students to key thinkers, doctrinal themes, and spiritual practices that characterise the so-called “patristic” period of Christian history. Students will investigate discrete doctrinal themes, attend to social, ecclesial and historical contexts within which leading Christian thinkers lived and worked and explore the tensions at play in the relations between orthodoxy and heresy, church and state, east and west, doctrine and practice, and creative and inauthentic progress. Progressing historically and preparing students for critical engagement in other systematic, historical and pastoral theological disciplines, the subject emphasises the Fathers’ commitment to the centrality of the incarnation for knowing the meaning of the universe, the decisive role of Christ’s humanity for creaturely participation in divine life, and the primacy of the lived experience of prayer and liturgical communion for integral Christian existence.

Unit Code: CT3015C

Points: 18.0

Unit Level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit Discipline: Systematic Theology

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning Outcomes


Demonstrate facility with a wide range of skills needed to utilise key secondary research tools for studying the first five centuries of the Christian era.


Demonstrate basic facility with some of the skills needed to access and engage primary patristic sources in English translation.


Comprehend and articulate the dynamic relation between select Christian thinkers, doctrines and/or practices and their respective historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts.


Elucidate the progressive character of patristic theology by demonstrating the ways certain words and concepts developed and changed according to context.

Unit sequence

This Bachelor-level unit presupposes basic (level 1) acquaintance with the New Testament, Theology, and Early Church History. BN1000C, CT1110C, CH1001C are recommended.


Learning tasks in this unit will consist in preparatory assisted reading with discussion questionnaires, guided classroom discussions, interactive lectures and formative and summative written assessment tasks.


Description Weight (%)

250-word tutorial paper


250-word tutorial paper


250-word tutorial paper


250-word tutorial paper


1,000-word essay


3,000-word essay


Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 4 Sep, 2018

Unit Record last updated: 2019-04-12 09:50:48 +1000