An introduction to the Fathers of the Church, from Ignatius of Antioch to John of Damascus: Writers, doctors, pastors, the Fathers of the Church


ECTS Credits:

Professor: Dr. Srecko Koralija

Course description

This course is a course of literature. It deals with texts. It will make you read and study texts. These texts belong to a tradition: they transmit topics, ideas, methods, throughout a certain continuity, from the end of the Apostolic Age, to the beginning of Middle Ages.
And this course is also a course of theology, as the central subject of the texts we are going to deal with is God and his Revelation in the Scriptures.

Table of content

1. Introduction to the course

What is a Father of the Church ?
A historical outline of the Patristic Era
Reading CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION, Instruction on the Study of the Fathers of the Church in the Formation of Priests
A bibliography and links to resources online

2 From the Bible to the Fathers

The canonization of the New Testament
Reading: IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, Letter to the Ephesians

3 Reading the Scriptures

A never ending Scripture
The Fathers of biblical exegesisReading: ORIGEN, Homilies on Numbers, IX, 7-9,

The three meanings of the Scriptures

4 The beginning of theology

Preliminary question: What is theology ?
Trying to make faith reasonable to pagans: the Apologists
Reading: CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, Stromata, I, xvii, The theft of the Greeks
Reading: ORIGEN, Letter to Gregory Thaumaturgus, The spoiling of the Egyptians
Reading: JUSTIN MARTYR, The seeds of the Word

5 Heresies

Diversity in the primitive Church
The gnostic challenge
Christological controversies : Nicea I, Ephesus, Chalcedon
Reading LEO, BISHOP OF ROME, Letter XXVIII, to Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople, « The Tome to Flavian »

6 Giants of the Golden Era I : Cappadocians

Basil the Great
Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory of Nyssa
Reading: BASIL OF CAESAREA [GREGORY OF NYSSA], Letter 38 to Gregory of Nyssa

7 Giants of the Golden Era II : Alexandria and Antioch

Alexandria and Antioch
Cyril of Alexandria
John Chrysostom
Reading : JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Homily XV on the Gospel of John

8 Giants of the West

Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome
Reading: AUGUSTINE, Letter 194 to Sixtus of Rome, 418

9 The Eastern Legacy

Dionysius the Areopagite
Reading: DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE, The Mystical Theology, chapter 1
Maximus the Confessor
John of Damascus
The Eastern Theology

10 The Western Legacy

Gregorius The Great
Reading: GREGORY THE GREAT, Dialogues, Book II, Life of Saint Benedict, ch. 35
Collecting Fathers
Western Theology