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From Nicea to Chalcedon

Instructor: James Korthals

Description:
In 325, the First Council of Nicea determined that Jesus Christ was God, equal in every way with the Father. The council supported the position of Athansius and rejected the Arian contention that Jesus was a created being. The decision in favor of the Athanasian view at Nicea, however, did not immediately end the controversy. For more than a century the church wavered. The Council of Ariminum (359) all but reversed Nicea, and the emperor in Constantinople turned the Athanasian majority into a minority. Constantine himself leaned toward Arianism, and his eventual successor, his son Constantius, was openly Arian. Several theologians continued the controversy, and a number of views vied for acceptance. As a result the period from Nicea to the Council of Chalcedon (451) is one of the most significant in the formation of the doctrine of the Church. Yet rarely does one come to grips with the background or the literature of the period, let alone the theological argumentation to be found in the texts. This course intends to provide background material and an introduction to the characters involved in the disputes, as well as examining the literary sources and critical questions of this period. Beginning with Athanasius, we will consider the desert fathers (often considered heroes of the faith), the Cappadocians (Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa), and the Christological controversies that preceded Chalcedon. In the end we will be reminded of what it means to be a “Chalcedonian Christian.”

Advanced Degree Program(s): STM
Area of Study: Church History
Course Number: CH5006
Course Credits 2
Dates Term Location