Sin, Grace and Free Will: A Historical Survey of Christian Thought (Volume 1: The Apostolic Fathers to Augustine)

By Matthew Knell

The first of three volumes exploring the development of the concepts of sin, grace and free will in Christian theology, beginning with the Church Fathers.

ISBN: 9780227176061


In this first volume of Sin, Grace and Free Will, Matthew Knell embarks on a journey through centuries of Christian thought, from the Apostolic Fathers to St Augustine of Hippo. While the themes of sin, grace and free will are familiar to any Christian, Knell provides a comprehensive overview of how people such as Irenaeus, Gregory of Nazianzus and Augustine explored these ideas, following the development of early church philosophy on topics such as the problem of evil and the crucial difference between conscious and unconscious sin, as well as the distinction between body and soul.

An indispensable primer for any beginning scholar, Sin, Grace and Free Will presents the writings of Christian thinkers of the early church in context and examines the progress of church doctrine from the nascent model of sin in the Shepherd of Hermas to Origen’s analysis of divine influence on human will and Augustine’s seminal work on grace and salvation.

Additional information

Dimensions234 × 156 mm

Hardback, Paperback

Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Matthew Knell is Lecturer in Historical Theology and Church History at the London School of Theology, as well as lecturing for Notre Dame University, Indiana, in the London Global Gateway and for the London programme of Biola University. He studies historical theology and is the author of The Immanent Person of the Holy Spirit from Anselm to Lombard: Divine Communion in the Spirit (2009). In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, two daughters and his students past and present.



1. Early Church Views
2. Irenaeus
3. Tertullian
4. Origen
5. The Greek Fathers on Sin
6. The Greek Fathers on Grace
7. The Greek Fathers on Free Will
8. Early Augustine
9. Late Augustine

Epilogue: After Augustine
Final Thoughts



Endorsements and Reviews

Knell should be commended for his hard work in collecting the various quotations and passages contained within this volume.
Andrew C. Chronister, in Theologische Revue, 2019, no 6