Theologian one who treats of theology, or the science of things divine. The most ancient Greeks used the latter term in the sense of narratio de deo, and those who wrote the history of the gods, their works and exploits, were called θεολόγοι. Moses is called by Philo θεολογεῖν when he gives the history of the creation. Among the Romans, from the time of Numa Pompilius to that of the emperors the knowledge and worship of the gods were made subservient to the interests of the State. Thus, according to Augustine (De Civ. Dei, 6:1), there were three kinds of theology — the poetical, or that of the poets; the physical, or that of the philosophers; and the political, or that of the legislators. The Greek Christians originally designated any deep philosophical apprehension of the truths of religion by the term Gnosis (knowledge), which was opposed to Pistis (faith). First, during the 3rd and 4th centuries, the word theology came into use especially in connection with such of the fathers as defended the doctrine of the deity of the Logos. In this sense the evangelist John and Gregory of Nazianzum were termed theologians. During the same period, the word theology was applied to the doctrine of the Trinity. In the century following, Theodoret widened its application by applying it to the whole circle of theoretical instruction in: religion. Finally, in the 12th century, Abelard, in his Theologia Christiana, gave the word that comprehensive signification it still bears, as expressive not only of a theoretical, but also of a practical, exposition of religious truth. In general, therefore, theology is the knowledge of God carried to the highest degree of perfection in respect to correctness, clearness, and evidence of which it is susceptible in this world.
Theology is divided into two great branches —
(1) Natural, or that which relates to such disclosures of himself as God has made in the outward world; and
(2) Revealed, or such as he has made through his spoken and written word. Eminent writers in the latter department of theology, as Schleiermacher, Hagenbach, Pelt, Godet, and others, present different methods of arranging the different subjects embraced in this study. SEE THEOLOGY. The arrangement adopted by Dr. J. M'Clintock is given in the article METHODOLOGY SEE METHODOLOGY (q.v.). The different branches are discussed under their several heads. SEE APOLOGETICS; SEE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY; SEE ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY; SEE ETHICS; SEE POLEMICS, etc.