St. Peter's Seminary
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Fall 2011

TUESDAYS 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Room 108, St. Peter's Seminary

Instructor:  Renée D. Pereira 
Office hours by appointment


A historical and thematic exploration of the contributions made to the Tradition by writers of the first seven centuries known as the "Fathers of the Church". Attention will be paid to their contributions in such areas as the formation of the biblical canon,the development of Christian doctrine, and the picture of Christian life in the ancientperiod. This is a seminar course.


This course will assist students to grow in the following knowledge, skills and attitudes:


• To understand the centrality of the Paschal Mystery and God’s action within salvation history and as expressed in the ancient Church.
• To learn of the key writers and theologians from the ancient period of the Church, through study of their lives, writings, and historical context.
• To understand the service rendered to the development of theology in the first centuries, especially in the “Golden Age” of the era.
• To gain a sense of the continuity of orthodox theology, making connections with other branches of theology, such as biblical, systematic and liturgical theology.


• To be able to integrate the various realms of theology as found within the ancient Church.
• To be able to enter into theological dialogue, to listen to other opinions, to use philosophical concepts, and be able to see the large footprint of the ancient wisdom of the Fathers in the Church today.
• To be able to apply the historical-critical method to the ancient texts of the Patristic Era.
• To situate the writings in their context and to draw out their theological significance.


• To embrace a sense of wonder in the mysteries of the faith and to accept that our comprehension will never be complete in light of the nature of theology.
• To embrace the ecumenical and universal spirit found in the ancient Christian Church
• To foster a profound appreciation for the Church Fathers, their holiness, their insight, and their extreme efforts to articulate and defend the faith.


1. Mid-Term Test (25% of final mark)

Essay format and in-class

Date:  Tuesday, November 8th

2.  Presentations (45% of final mark)

Seminars will take place during the last part of the course and will be an individual effort. Based upon projected class size for 2011, each student will do one seminar.

Each 50-minute seminar will be based upon the life of one Church Father and one theological issue or breakthrough for which he is famous.

A two-page class summary handout is required for distribution on the day of your seminar and point form is acceptable. Free photocopying is available, if the material is submitted – by hardcopy – one week before your seminar.

Topic sign-up will be done in-class, based upon a lottery system, on Tuesday, September 27th.

3. Final Exam (25% of final mark)

Take-home exam format.
Exam will have a pastoral focus and will be distributed on the last day of class.
Due Date:  no later than Tuesday, December 13th (tentative)


A. Required (on hold at the A.P. Mahoney Library)

• Boniface, Ramsey, Beginning to Read the Fathers (New York: Paulist Press, 1985).

• All the various books containing the primary documents written by the Fathers.

These same or similar English translations are available for free on-line at:

Any student who is competent in ancient languages, is highly encouraged to download the primary documents for free in their Greek or Latin text at: 

B. Recommended (available at “Google Books” and/or the A.P. Mahoney Library) 

• Chrestou, Panagiõtõs and George Dion Dragas, Greek Orthodox Patrology: An Introduction to the Study of the Church Fathers (Rollingsford, New Hampshire: Orthodox Research Institute, 2005)
[about 80% of this book is available through “Google Books”] 


Sept. 13                     Introduction to the Course/Introduction to Patrology
Sept. 20   Introduction (continued)/Apostolic Fathers
Sept. 27  

The Apostolic Fathers (Ignatius of Antioch) - con't
The Christian in the World (Diognetus)
Seminar lottery

Oct. 4   The Christian in the World (Diognetus) - con't
The Status of the non-Christians (Barnabas)
Oct. 11   Christian Initiation (Cyril of Jerusalem)
Salvation (Origen of Alexandria)
Oct. 18   The Church and Hierarchy (Clement of Rome)
Scripture (Jerome and Origen)
Oct. 25   Martyrdom (Polycarp)
Liturgy (Maximus the Confessor)
Nov. 1   Hagiography (Sophronius of Jerusalem)
The Trinity (Tertullian)
Nov. 8   Midterm Examination
Nov. 15   Monasticism (Benedict and Basil)
Marriage (Augustine)
Nov. 22   Pastoral Care (Gregory the Great)
Poverty (Chrysostom)
Nov. 29   God (Athanasius)
Christ (Cyril of Alexandria)
Dec. 6   Mysticism (Gregory of Nyssa)
Pneumatology and Theosis (Gregory of Nazianzus)
Take-Home exam distributed
Dec. 13   Take-home exam deadline (tentative)
To be e-mailed to via PDF or Word attachment.


Students are responsible for knowing the University’s academic policies and regulations and any particularities of their own course of study. These can all be found at the University’s website ( Ignorance of these policies is not an excuse for any violation thereof. The following policies are particularly important to note: 

Submission of Assignments:  It is the responsibility of the student to organize his orher work so that the assignments are completed on time. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment will be deducted for each day it is overdue without permission.

Seminars cannot be late or rescheduled. Be prepared to present on your scheduled day. A missed seminar (or partially missed seminar) will earn a zero.

Plagiarism: Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words. Whenever students take an idea or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt by quotation marks and/or footnotes. Plagiarism is a major academic offense. Students may be required to submit their work in electronic form for plagiarism checking.

Selection and Registration of Courses: Students are responsible for ensuring that their selection of courses is appropriate and accurately recorded, that all prerequisite course(s) have been successfully completed, and that they are aware of any anti-requisite course(s) that they have taken.