To introduce the Church Fathers in the period between the Council of Nicaea and the 7th century. The aim is to obtain a broad overview of them within their specific contexts (Greek, Egyptian, Syrian and Latin) and to indicate the main features of their teaching. Their significance for the history of theology and the development of dogma will receive special attention. In addition to the usual topics commonly treated in courses on Patrology (Trinity, Christology etc…), we will also consider the Fathers’ contribution to the development of the Church’s spiritual life (mystical theology, monasticism and liturgical mystagogy). The ultimate aim is to foster a love for the Fathers as spiritual guides and models of theological activity and to encourage students to acquire their “mind”, so that theology may be a contemplative encounter with the Lord in his mysteries.
General introduction to patristic literature in the period. 1. The 4th century transformations in the Church, the first two Ecumenical Councils and Trinitarian theology/pneumatology. 2. The major figures in the eastern Christological disputes (Athanasius to Maximus the Confessor via Cyril of Alexandria) and the later Councils. 3. Augustine and his various controversies (Donatism and Pelagianism). 4. The monastic movement in Egypt, Syria, Palestine and the west. 5. Patristic liturgical theology. 6. Patristic mystical theology and teaching on prayer. Learning Outcomes: Students will, through intensive introductions to figures and themes, engage in detailed discussion of controversial topics (e.g. Augustine on predestination). They will read excerpts from patristic literature in class and discuss them together. They will show how the teaching of the Fathers entered the mainstream of Christian theology and assisted the definition of orthodoxy. They will reference their inclusions in the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours, so as to encourage a more fruitful praying of the Breviary.
Textbook: DROBNER H.R., The Fathers of the Church: a Comprehensive Introduction (Peabody, Hendrickson 2005). DI BERARDINO A. (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Early Church, 2 vols (Cambridge, James Clarke 1992); QUASTEN J., Patrology, Vols. 1-4 (Notre Damme, Christian Classics 1963); SIMONETTI M., Bible interpretation in the Early Church (Edinburgh, T & T Clark 2001); WILLS J.R.-ROUET DE JOURNEL M.J., The teachings of the Church Fathers (San Francisco, Ignatius press 2002).