History Of Systematic Theology

1. In the Eastern Church, Systematic theology may be said to have had its beginning and end in John of Damascus (700-760).

Ignatius (115 ? Ad Trall., c. 9) gives us ?the first distinct statement of the faith drawn up in a series of propositions. This sytematizing formed the basis of all later efforts? (Prof. A. H. Newman). Origen of Alexandria (186-254) wrote his Peri< Arcw~n Athanasius of Alexandria (300-373) his Treatises on the Trinity and the Deity of Christ; and Gregory of Nyssa in Cappadocia (332-398) his Lo>gov kathchtiko<v oJ me>gav . Hatch, Hibbert Lectures, 323, regards the ?De Principiis? of Origen as the ?first complete system of dogma,? and speaks of Origen as ?the disciple of Clement of Alexandria, the first great teacher of philosophical Christianity.? But while the Fathers just mentioned seem to have conceived the plan of expounding the doctrines in order and of showing their relation to one another, it was John of Damascus (700-760) who first actually carried out such a plan, His Ekdosiv ajkribh<v th~v orjqodo>xou Pi>stewv , or summary of the Orthodox Faith, may be considered the earliest work of Systematic Theology. Neander call it ?the most important doctrinal textbook of the Greek Church.? John, like the Greek Church in general, was speculative, theological, semi-pelagian, sacramentarian. The Apostles? Creed, so called, is, in its present form, not earlier than the fifth century; see Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, 1:19. Mr. Gladstone suggested that the Apostles? Creed was a development of the baptismal formula. McGiffert, Apostles? Creed, assigns to the meager original form a date of the third quarter of the second century, and regards the Roman origin of the symbol as proved. It was framed as a baptismal formula, but specifically in opposition to the teachings of Marcion, which were at that time causing much trouble at Rome. Harnack however dates the original Apostles? Creed at 150, and Zahn places it at 120. See also J. C. Long, in Bap. Quar. Rev., 1892:89-101.

2. In the Western Church , we may (with Hagenbach) distinguish three periods:

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