Explain the mainstream Church’s understanding of the person of Jesus Christ, and his
relationship to the Trinity (especially his relationship to the First Person of the Trinity). This
exam should cover the period from the New Testament up through the third century,
culminating with Novatian. Especially focus on the debates in the second and third
centuries, and explain the “heresies” – those alternative explanations of the person of Christ
to which the mainstream Church was responding, and against which it was arguing. Include
the contributions of the “orthodox” apologists and theologians. In other words, how did the
majority of the Church answer the problem of Christian Monotheism? Be sure to give
examples from events in the history of the church, including names and dates where
appropriate. Be sure to show engagement with the primary sources – but refrain from taking
up a lot of space with long quotations. Remember that this paper is not about your personal
theology – it is an explanation of the historical development of doctrine. As much as
possible, explain the historical events and thought process in your own words, and in terms
that would be understood by a layperson (but this does not mean skimming the surface or
leaving out detail – this is not a sermon). However, do not get into analogies for the Trinity –
stick with the interpretations that existed in the early Church.
NOTE: Only include what is relevant to the question. For example, it is relevant to
include material on the Trinity in Scripture, but the material on the development of the New
Testament Canon and Patristic Exegesis is NOT relevant to this question. Don’t waste space
by including what is not directly relevant.
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