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: Srecko Koralija

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.

Programme of the course:

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