This unit will introduce students to the literary works of the early Fathers of Alexandria: Didymus the Blind, Clement, Origen, Cyril and Athanasius, in order to understand the historical and theological contexts in which the Fathers were engaged, against wider social, cultural and political forces operative at the time. Primary texts will be examined to explore the development of Alexandrian theology and the controversies in which the Fathers were engaged.

Unit code: CH8530A

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


Explore a specific topic in a rigorous manner


Articulate a critical understanding of the key primary texts of the Alexandrian fathers.


Identify the distinguishing features of the works of key personalities with reference to their genre, historical context and theological contribution.


Evaluate the ways in which rhetorical devices are employed to advance a theological viewpoint


Develop a critical framework for reading and interpreting historical events contained in the primary sources

Unit sequence

No prerequisite units, co-requisite units or prohibited combinations


A mix of asynchronous and synchronous combining. This will include live and pre-recorded lectures, group discussions, and online forums.

Indicative Bibliography

Behr, John. The Way to Nicaea. Crestwood NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001.

Behr, John. The Nicene Faith: Part 1 and 2. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004.

Casiday, Augustine, and Frederick W. Norris. The Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 2. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Eusebius, and Rufinus. History of the Church. Translated by Philip R Amidon. The Fathers of the Church, a New Translation, Volume 133. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2016.

Evans, G. R. The First Theologians: An Introduction to Theology in the Early Church. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

McGuckin, John. Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy. Crestwood, New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004.

Mitchell, Margaret M., Frances M. Young, and K. Scott Bowie. Cambridge History of Christianity: Volume 1, Origins to Constantine. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Papandrea, James Leonard. Reading the Early Church Fathers: From the Didache to Nicaea. New York: Paulist Press, 2012.

Parry, Ken, ed. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics. Hoboken: Wiley, 2015.

Young, Frances, Lewis Ayres & Andrew Louth. Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature. Cambridge University Press, 2004.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Variant 1

Book Review 2000 35.0
Tutorial Paper/Seminar Paper 1000 20.0
Essay 3000 45.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 22 Sep, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-09-22 15:51:25 +1000