This unit will explore the writings of the Fathers of the Church and their contribution to the formation of Orthodox Theology from the first century to the turn of the sixth. A variety of genres will be studied, including the epistle, apology, homily and martyrology. The unit may highlight the Fathers of Alexandria – Clement and Origen, Saint Athanasius and Saint Cyril – along with the Cappadocian Fathers and the Latin Fathers.

Unit code: CT8400A

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Critically evaluate the contribution that each of the Fathers have made in explaining the Orthodox faith.


Contextualise the thought of the Fathers and the content and context of their major works


Analyse the ways in which rhetorical devices are employed in a range of ancient literary genres to advance a theological viewpoint


Critically Investigate the ways in which Christian teachings identified and triumphed over ‘heresy’ as presented by an ancient Christian author.


Critically evaluate modern scholarship on interpretive difficulties in the writings of a selection ofthe Fathers

Unit sequence

No prerequisite units, co-requisite units or prohibited combinations


asynchronous and synchronous lectures and tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

Anatolios, Khaled. Athanasius, The Early Church Fathers. New York, NY: Routledge, 2004.

Athanasius, and John Behr. On the Incarnation. Yonkers, N.Y.: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2011.

Ayres, Lewis. Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth Century Theology. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Beeley, Christopher A. The Unity of Christ : Continuity and Conflict in Patristic Tradition. New Haven Conn.: Yale University Press, 2012

Behr, John. Origen: On First Principles. Oxford University Press, 2017.

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

Berding, Kenneth. The Apostolic Fathers : A Narrative Introduction. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2017

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

Cohick, Lynn H, and Amy Brown Hughes. Christian Women in the Patristic World : Their Influence, Authority, and Legacy in the Second through Fifth Centuries. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.

Engberg, Jakob, Anders-Christian Jacobsen, and Ulrich Jörg, eds. In Defence of Christianity : Early Christian Apologists. Early Christianity in the Context of Antiquity, Volume 15. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Edition, 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.

Fédou Michel. The Fathers of the Church in Christian Theology. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2019

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

McGuckin, John Anthony. St. Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001.

McKechnie, Paul. Christianizing Asia Minor : Conversion, Communities, and Social Change in the Pre-Constantinian Era. New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

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

Rebillard Éric, ed. Greek and Latin Narratives About the Ancient Martyrs. First ed. Oxford Early Christian Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Thorsteinsson, Runar M. 2012. "The Literary Genre and Purpose of Justin's Second Apology: A Critical Review with Insights from Ancient Epistolography." Harvard Theological Review 105, no. 1: 91-114.

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


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Document Study - document study 2000 30.0
Critical Review 2000 30.0
Essay 2500 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 26 Jul, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-07-27 09:50:50 +1000