The World of the Church Fathers:
History, Theology, Spirituality

crosslisted as CH9015C

Semester 1, 2020
Monday 2.00pm – 5.00pm
This unit introduces students to key thinkers, doctrinal themes, and spiritual practices that characterise the so-called “patristic” period of Christian history. Students will investigate discrete doctrinal themes, attend to social, ecclesial and historical contexts within which leading Christian thinkers lived and worked, and explore the tensions at play in the relations between orthodoxy and heresy, church and state, east and west, doctrine and practice, and creative and inauthentic progress. Progressing historically, and preparing students for critical engagement in other systematic, historical, and pastoral theological disciplines, the subject emphasises the Fathers’ commitment to the centrality of the incarnation for knowing the meaning of the universe, the decisive role of Christ’s humanity for creaturely participation in divine life, and the primacy of the lived experience of prayer and liturgical communion for integral Christian existence.

Census Date

Tuesday 17 March  


CT8010C or equivalent; CH8001C or equivalent


face-to-face 3-hour weekly classes in semester


  • one 1,000-word document study 20%
  • one 5,000-word essay 80% 


  • Burton-Christie, Douglas. The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • Davis, Leo D. The First Seven Councils (325–787): Their History and Theology. Theology and Life 21. Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1987.
  • Di Berardino, Angelo, and Basil Studer, eds. History of Theology. Vol 1, The Patristic Period. Translated by Matthew J. O’Connell. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996.
  • Drobner, Hubertus R. The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction. Translated by Siegfried S. Schatzmann. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.
  • Fitzgerald, Allan, ed. Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopaedia. Grand Rapids, MN: William B. Eerdmans, 1999.
  • Grillmeier, Aloys. Christ in Christian Tradition: From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon (451). Translated by J. S. Bowden. 2nd rev. ed. London: Mowbrays, 1975.
  • Price, Richard, and Michael Gaddis, trans. The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon. Translated Texts for Historians 45. 3 vols. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007.
  • Ramsey, Boniface. Beginning to Read the Fathers. Rev. ed. New York: Paulist, 2012.
  • Studer, Basil. Trinity and Incarnation: The Faith of the Early Church. Edited by Andrew Louth. Translated by Matthias Westerhoff. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1993.
  • Wilken, Robert L. The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.