According to Simplicius, the neoplatonic commentator on Aristotle, and similarly Hippolytus in his Refutatio omnium haeresium, Anaximander was the first to describe the ground of things he found in the ἀπειρον (the unbounded) with the term ἀρχη (beginning, origin, foundation, or source). By doing this, however, he may have meant only that the ἀπειρον was the beginning and first of all things. But in the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle this word acquired the meaning of the ultimate cause of things. Plato already speaks of the principle of motion, of becoming, and of proof,5 and Aristotle understands ἀρχαι in general to refer to the first things in a series and particularly the first causes that cannot be traced to other causes…

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It used to be that when you write about theology, you start by discussing the nature of theology. After Kant critiqued this method, theologians lost their footing. Schleiermacher worked around this by trying to give theology another foundation. He believed that theology is not a matter of knowing but of feeling. He made dogmatics dependent on philosophy.

Following Schleiermacher, theologians began prefacing their writings with a kind of apologetic tone instead of the usual prolegomena. What happened was that theology lost its own foundation and was no longer developed from its own first principles. Theology now had to wait for philosophy to examine its basis and right to exist before it could undertake its tasks. This means that the theologian could not take his stance from within Christianity but have to look outside in the study of religions. From there, he would have to work his way to an exposition of the Christian faith.