General Objectives: To introduce the Church Fathers and early Christian Writers in the period between the First Century and the Council of Nicaea, presenting them with a broad overview within their specific contexts. To indicate the main features of their teachings and their significance for the history of theology and the development of dogma. In addition to the writings and knowledge of the fathers, to introduce the students to other documents with important informations on the life of the Church in the early centuries (Didache, the Epistle to Barnabas, the letter to Diognetus).
Course Outlines: 1. Introduction to the Fathers of the Church. Their importance in theological studies and in the formation of the Christian identity. Presentation of historical context of the early Church and its challenges for the Church. 2. The time of the Apostolic Fathers; their historical context and contribution: St Clement of Rome. The Didache. The Epistle to Barnabas. St Polycarp of Smyrna. St Ignatius of Antioch. 3. The time of the Apologists: The historical context of sporadic persecutions and the challenge of Gnosticism: St Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian and St Cyprian of Carthage.
Textbook: Drobner, Hubertus. The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction. Translated by Siegfried Schatzmann. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing House, 2017. Bibliography: Aquilina, Mike. The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers. Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2013; Benedict XVI. Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008; Di Berardino, Angelo, ed. Encyclopedia of the Early Church. 2 vols. Translated by Adrian Walford. Cambridge: James Clarke, 1992; Döpp, Siegmar, and Wilhelm Geerlings, eds. Dictionary of Early Christian Literature. Translated by Matthew O’Connell. New York: Crossroadm 2011; Jefford, Clayton. Reading the Apostolic Fathers: A Student’s Introduction. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014; Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. Vol. 1, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971; Quasten, Johannes. Patrology. Vol. 1, The Beginnings of Patristic Literature. Notre Dame: Christian Classics, 1995; Quasten, Johannes. Patrology. Vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Literature After Irenaeus. Notre Dame: Christian Classics, 1995; Ramsey, Boniface. Beginning to Read the Fathers. Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2012; Roberts, Alexander, James Donalson, and Arthur Coxe, eds. Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325. 9 vols. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2007; Simonetti, Manlio. Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church: An Historical Introduction to Patristic Exegesis. Translated by John Hughes. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2001; Willis, John, ed. The Teachings of the Church Fathers. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002.
Learning Outcomes: Upon completion of the course, students are expected to: Be familiar with the ancient texts and how they are used today to give a clearer understanding of issues encountered by the early Church leaders; to identify and state the different approaches used by those writers to explain issues encountered in the early Church; to express familiarity with the content and language of the texts using and explaining the differences of approaches in expressing the problems encountered by early Church Fathers.