Sekedar perkembangan pandangan gereja tentang teori bentuk permukaan bumi, mungkin dapat dibaca di sini:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth
Early Christian ChurchFrom Late Antiquity, and from the beginnings of Christian theology, knowledge of the sphericity of the Earth had become widespread. There was considerable misunderstanding illustrated by the debate concerning the possibility of the inhabitants of the antipodes:
After his conversion to Christianity, Lactantius (245–325) became the tutor to the son of emperor Constantine and a trenchant critic of all pagan philosophy. In Book III of The Divine Institutes he ridicules the notion that there could be inhabitants of the antipodes "whose footsteps are higher than their heads". After presenting some arguments which he attributes to advocates for a spherical heaven and Earth, he writes:
But if you inquire from those who defend these marvellous fictions, why all things do not fall into that lower part of the heaven, they reply that such is the nature of things, that heavy bodies are borne to the middle, and that they are all joined together towards the middle, as we see spokes in a wheel; but that the bodies that are light, as mist, smoke, and fire, are borne away from the middle, so as to seek the heaven. I am at a loss what to say respecting those who, when they have once erred, consistently persevere in their folly, and defend one vain thing by another;
Though he was not a theologian, his books remained widely read and admired and were among those printed first in the fifteenth century.
Saint Augustine (354–430) took a more cautious approach in arguing against assuming that people inhabited the antipodes:
But as to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours that is on no ground credible. And, indeed, it is not affirmed that this has been learned by historical knowledge, but by scientific conjecture, on the ground that the earth is suspended within the concavity of the sky, and that it has as much room on the one side of it as on the other: hence they say that the part that is beneath must also be inhabited. But they do not remark that, although it be supposed or scientifically demonstrated that the world is of a round and spherical form, yet it does not follow that the other side of the earth is bare of water; nor even, though it be bare, does it immediately follow that it is peopled.
Since these people would have to be descended from Adam, they would have had to travel to the other side of the Earth at some point; Augustine continues:
It is too absurd to say, that some men might have taken ship and traversed the whole wide ocean, and crossed from this side of the world to the other, and that thus even the inhabitants of that distant region are descended from that one first man.
Scholars of Augustine's work have traditionally understood him to have shared the common view of his educated contemporaries that the Earth is spherical, in line with the quotation above, and with Augustine's famous endorsement of science in De Genesi ad litteram. That tradition has, however, recently been challenged by Leo Ferrari, who concluded that many of Augustine's passing references to the physical universe imply a belief in an essentially flat Earth "at the bottom of the universe".
The notion that hell was below the earth is stated clearly in early Christian tradition by the belief, still recited by most Christians in the Apostolic and Athanasian creeds, that Christ "descended into hell" between his death and resurrection. The Harrowing of hell, combined with the theme of Christ's ascension into heaven, became a favourite motif in medieval art and drama and led to the three tiers of the mystery plays. This was possibly the only source of cosmology available to most unlearned people until literacy became more widespread after the invention of printing.
Cosmas Indicopleustes' world picture - flat earth in a Tabernacle.Diodorus of Tarsus (d. 394) may have argued for a flat Earth based on scriptures; however, Diodorus' opinion on the matter is known to us only by a criticism of it by Photius. Severian, Bishop of Gabala (d. 408), wrote that the Earth is flat and the sun does not pass under it in the night, but "travels through the northern parts as if hidden by a wall". The Egyptian monk Cosmas Indicopleustes (547) in his Topographia Christiana, where the Covenant Ark was meant to represent the whole universe, argued on theological grounds that the Earth was flat, a parallelogram enclosed by four oceans.
In his Homilies Concerning the Statutes St.John Chrysostom (344–408) explicitly espoused the idea, based on his reading of Scripture, that the Earth floated on the waters gathered below the firmament, and St. Athanasius (c.293–373) expressed similar views in Against the Heathen.
A very recent essay by Leone Montagnini, discussing the question of the shape of the Earth from the origins to the late Antiquity, has shown that the Fathers of the Church shared different approaches that paralleled their overall philosophical and theological visions. Those of them who were more close to Platonic visions, like Origen, shared peacefully the geosphericism. A second tradition, including Basil, Ambrose and Augustine, but also Philoponus, accepted the idea of the round Earth and the radial gravity, but in a critical way. In particular they pointed out a number of doubts about the physical reasons of the radial gravity, and hesitated in accepting the physical reasons proposed by Aristotle or Stoicism. However, a "flattist" approach was more or less shared by all the Fathers coming from the Syriac area, who were more inclined to follow the letter of the Old Testament. Diodorus, Severian, and Cosmas Indicopleustes, but also Chrysostom, belonged just to this latter tradition.
At least one early Christian writer, Basil of Caesarea (329–379), believed the matter to be theologically irrelevant.
Perhatikan pada awal paragraph yang saya quote, tertulis: Early Christian ChurchFrom Late Antiquity, and from the beginnings of Christian theology, knowledge of the sphericity of the Earth had become widespread
lalu kemudian para patriach dipengaruhi Lactantius (245–325) yang mencoba menyangkal pendapat para filsuf yang menyatakan bumi bulat, secara gegabah, karena berfikir paham tersebut berasal dari pagan. Dan akhirnya secara turun temurun diwariskan di dalam greja sebagai bentuk credo sahih..