The Primitive Advance of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the First and Second Century Church

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Systematic Theology


The core of every religion is the definition of deity. For Christianity, the doctrine of God centers on the confession of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit-three persons in one essence. In the first two centuries, the Christian writers fought heresy and defended the position of Jesus Christ as God the Son in the Godhead. The early church understood and confessed God the Father as being God, but neglected the Holy Spirit and mostly found the confession of the Spirit's divinity as contingent on the Son. If the Son was confessed as part of the Godhead, the difficulty was not going from two persons to three persons, but instead going from one person to three. An early Trinitarian doctrine rests on an early doctrine of the Holy Spirit as God and a person of the Trinity.

This thesis will show how the first and second century church has provided a high pneumatology, through a consistency with New Testament descriptions, and the primitive advance of the doctrine towards the Nicene-Constantinopolian definition of orthodoxy. This thesis will examine both the consistency of early church writings with the New Testament writings, as well as apparent inconsistencies between the documents. In addition, the early church writings will be used to demonstrate advancement of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit along the trajectory towards the Creed of the 150 Fathers, put forth at Constantinople.


If you are not a patron of the Concordia Seminary Library this dissertation is available from the "Theological Research Exchange Network" at http://tren.com/.