The Chair for Ancient Church History engages in research and teaching, especially with the ancient Christianity from its beginnings to the end of the migration, ie from the first to the seventh century AD, the territory of the Roman Empire and its neighbors. Subject of teaching and research is ancient Christianity in its entirety, its historiography in traditional terminology of the discipline also "Ancient Church History" is and in particular the ancient theological reflection on Christianity. From late antiquity, called those theologians whose reflection was held by the Christian majority church for set new standards and Orthodox "Church Fathers" (Latin: patres), which is why a traditional and used in the English-speaking today name of the field also "Patristic" is.
In keeping with the tradition of the Berlin Chair, will work on him not only in the classical form of the history of ideas and theological dogmas of historical research, but in view of approaches by August Neander (1789-1850), Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930) and Hans Lietzmann (1875-1942) placed particular emphasis on the edition of relevant sources, the study of religious attitudes and the ratio of pagan to Christian antiquity. The general public present, the Berlin research on ancient Christianity once a year with the "Hans-Lietzmann lecture".
The institution also maintains the traditions of the Berlin Faculty, which were at home within one institutional context in earlier times. This refers on the one hand to the research into the archaeological remains from early Christianity, on which – very much in the tradition of Ferdinand Pipers (1811-1889) and his “Christian Museum” – Tomas Lehmann is now working in collaboration with other partners in the universities and in the museums of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. On the other hand, the tradition of working with sources in Christian-Oriental languages (particularly Coptic and Syriac), which mainly goes back to Harnack’s student Carl Schmidt (1868-1938), is also being continued.
Close professional contacts are with the Center for the Study of Christianity at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, members of the Association pour l'étude de la littérature apocryphe chrétienne (Association for the Study of Christian apocryphal literature) and members of the Italian Origen Research Group.
Together with colleagues from different disciplines and countries, Journal of Ancient Christianity is issued.