A study of the theology, history, and spirituality of the patristic period from the apostles’ deaths to the pontificate of Gregory the Great (600 CE). Through a study of the writings of the key patristic figures, we come to appreciate the diverse cultures and experiences that marked the earliest centuries of the church. These events have enduring relevance to the contemporary church.

Unit code: CH9511Y

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


identify the principal themes within patristic theology


articulate the early development of church doctrine within its wider historical and cultural context


use critically primary and secondary sources in the analysis of patristic themes


Assess and provide evidence for the enduring impact of patrology upon contemporary theology and spirituality


formulate, with the use of primary material, a sustained argument on the work, thought and historical significance of a selected patristic author


show in primary sources the mutual influence of historical events and theological developments upon each other in the patristic era

Unit sequence

The Unit is an elective within the discipline of Church History and Systematic Theology. Pre-requisite: CH8001Y – Survey of Early and Medieval Church History or equivalent


The unit will consist of Lectures, Tutorials and discussion forums all delivered in a Seminar style (whether on-line or face to face) so that students can interact with the ideas presented, engage with other students and their reflections and ideas and develop skills in critique, debate and practical application.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Brown, Peter. Augustine of Hippo. London: Faber & Faber, 1967.
  • Chadwick, Henry. The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great. London: OUP, 2001
  • Di Berardino, Angelo, and Basil Studer. History of Theology. Vol. 1,The Patristic Period. Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 1997.
  • Drobner, Hubertus R. The Fathers of the Church: a Comprehensive Introduction. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007.
  • Hamman, Adalbert. How to Read the Church Fathers. London: SC Press, 1993.
  • Irvin, Dale. Christian Histories, Christian Traditioning: Rendering Account. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1998.
  • Louth, Andrew. The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition from Plato to Denys. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.
  • Quasten, Johannes. *Patrology *(4 vols). Westminster: Christian Classics, 1986-88.
  • Ramsay, Boniface. Beginning to Read the Fathers. London: DLT, 1985.
  • Wetzel, James. Augustine: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum, 2010.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Portfolio of 5 Tutorial Exercises of 300 words each

1500 30.0
Tutorial Paper/Seminar Paper 1500 25.0
Essay 4000 45.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 22 Sep, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000