Trinitarian Theology of Novatian of Rome: A Study in Third-Century Orthodoxy

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This work explores Novatian’s historical context, his use of Latin terminology, and his New Testament exegesis, in order to discover and clarify how he solved the Christological problem of how Christ could be fully divine without compromising the oneness of God. The study includes a new translation of his De Trinitate and shows that Novatian’s christology is not only progressive for his time, it anticipates Nicaean and Chalcedonian christology.


“In this new critical edition and English translation of Novatian’s De Trinitate, the third-century church father and acting Bishop of Rome receives the detailed attention he deserves. Novatian is unfortunately remembered principally as the leader of a serious schism, but in James Papandrea’s patient and mature work of rehabilitation he emerges as a more creative theologian than previously thought, and at the same time, more grounded in Scripture and tradition than detractors have claimed.” – James E. Bradley, Geoffrey W. Bromiley Professor of Church History, Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, CA

“In this study, James Papandrea has provided a valuable new look into one of early Christianity’s most overlooked writers. Novatian’s interpretation of the Christian Scriptures and the theological conclusions he draws find their fullest expression in his exegesis of Philippians 2, which is also the focus of this study. Here, Papandrea makes the constructive argument that Novatian can be seen as a forerunner of kenotic Christology and demonstrates that Novatian’s solution to the problem of Christian monotheism was acceptable to the church of his time, even anticipating the orthodoxy of later councils. Papandrea also successfully shows how Novatian anticipated several key aspects of Christian orthodoxy, including the doctrines of eternal generation and communicatio idiomatum. James Papandrea has clarified for the scholarly community that Novatian, speaking for the church of Rome in the third century, was able to navigate successfully the middle ground between theological extremes.” – Prof. George Kalantzis

Table of Contents

Preface by James E. Bradley
1. Introduction
2. Novatian’s Historical Context
3. The History of the Text of the De Trinitate
4. Novatian’s Use of Key Theological Terms
5. Novatian’s New Testament Exegesis
6. Novatian’s Christology
7. Conclusions
Appendix A. The Rule of Truth: A New Translation of the De Trinitate of Novatian
Appendix B. Translation of Alternate, Reconstructed Ending to the De Trinitate

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