Another question about Church history

What other schools of thought were there besides the school of Alexandria, school of Antioch, school of Edessa, school of Nisibis & Valentinian school?

Thanks in advance and God bless.

First, I think you are using the word School in two different senses here. Some of the schools you named were institutions of instruction with teachers, students, and departments for different subjects. Others were, as you called them, schools of thought.

In the category of institutions we should probably include the University of Constantinople, founded in 425 A.D., the monastery school of Cassiodorus, the school of St. Leander of Seville, the dozens of convent schools founded by nuns, and the dozens of monastery schools founded by monks.

In the category of “schools of thought” we should probably include neo-platonism, which had many Catholic supporters, and Augustinism, which was based on the study of St. Augustine.

Yeah, I wasn’t too sure whether the schools Edessa and Nisibis referred to institutions. But I was looking for actual schools of thought rather than institutions.

Okay, that makes sense. Let me try to do a bit of meta-thinking about this so that I can give you a better response.

When I think of the phrase “schools of thought,” I think of things that Catholics can disagree about and still hold to the same doctrines. For example, Catholics are allowed to believe in Thomistic predestination, Augustinian predestination, or Molinist predestination, so long as we reject Calvinist predestination. We might call these “speculative theology” issues. Speculative theology is a branch of theology that has many speculations in it, but nobody Has to believe them. They’re just interesting speculative opinions that some theologians study for a variety of reasons. Is that the kind of thing you’re talking about when you refer to schools of thought? Are you wondering what some Early examples were of this kind of theological opinions that Could be held, but not everyone did?

If so, I think neo-platonism is a good example. It was primarily a philosophy, but it also involved many theological concepts regarding the nature of God, angels, and the soul. Catholics Could hold to a Christian form of neo-platonism, but not everybody did.

There were also two alternative opinions about when Easter should be celebrated, and good Catholics fell on both sides of this debate up until about 325 A.D. For example, St. Irenaeus recorded that Pope St. Victor celebrated Easter on a different day than St. Polycarp of Smyrna, and that they discussed their differences in a friendly way and departed in communion with one another but without agreeing on which day Easter should be celebrated on. In about 325 A.D. the First Ecumenical Council issued a decree that required the whole Church to follow the Roman custom, and the other custom basically died out, but before that it was okay for people to differ on that question.

There were also differences of opinion about what kind of liturgical music to use in church. St. Basil of Caesarea once wrote a letter to the clergy of Neocaesarea about this subject, because some of them were complaining that he used music they had never heard of before and they didn’t like it. He told them it was okay for them to use the music they thought was appropriate and for him to use the music he thought was appropriate, because this was not a difference of doctrine but only of custom.

In other cases this question about music seems to have approached the level of theological opinion, though. St. Augustine comments that St. Athanasius would not allow his lectors to chant the gospel readings, whereas St. Augustine thought the liturgy was more beautiful and therefore a better offering if there was skillful chanting involved. Also, some Fathers apparently thought that our music should be a capella, with no musical instruments, but others thought that instruments were okay.

To me, from a modern perspective, these disagreements seem like small potatoes. They don’t seem to arise to the level of speculative theology, but they are connected to it. For example, liturgical music IS supposed to express theology, including in the way the music is written. There are theological reasons why we want it to be beautiful, singable, understandable, and lift your mind and heart to God. When there were differences of opinion about what music was acceptable in the early church, I take that to mean they were trying to work out some of this stuff too, and we can learn from their experience. (Actually, the Church has always struggled with getting the music right. We still have teapot tempests about this subject today.)

I hope that helps. If I think of other early “speculative theology” matters perhaps I’ll get back to you, or perhaps that’s not what you are looking for. Let me know.

Yeah, just any school of thought whether orthodox or heterodox.


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