THEOLOGY (Gr. theologia, lit., a speaking or writing about God) is a term- employed to denote the theory of the divine nature and operation. It first occurs in Plato and Aristotle, who understand by it the doctrine of the Greek gods, and of their relation to the world. Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, etc., are called theologoi (theologians), on account of the subject-matter of their verse. But their theology is at the same time called "mythic," to distinguish it from the "physical" theology of the philosophers, which, reversing the mythic order, concerned itself with speculative inquiries regarding the origin of the world and its relation to the gods. In the New Testament, the word theology does not occur, and the idea seems alien to the simplicity of the primitive Christian faith. The Greek Christians originally designated any deep philosophical apprehension of the truths of religion by the term gnosis (knowledge), which was opposed to pLstis (faith), the simple irreflective trust of the majority of humble believers.
First during the 3d and 4tli 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 Nazianzen were termed theologians. During the same period, the word theology was applied to the doctrine of the Trinity. In the century following, its application was widened by Theodoret, who used it to denote the whole circle of theoretical instruction in religion; and finally, Abelard, through his Theologies Christiana, gave the word that comprehensive signification it still bears, as expressive not only of a theoretical but also a practical exposition of religious truth. The word divinity is sometimes used to denote the same thing as theology.