The Church Fathers and the «Dilemma of Theology»: The Patristic Dimension in the Thought of the Theologian Joseph Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI. Since his 1951 doctoral thesis on Augustine Joseph Ratzinger has not only kept relating his theology to the thinking of the church fathers but also repeatedly reflected on what the patristic argument brings to the fore, namely what he calls the dilemma of theology: the conflict between aggiornamento and ressourcement. In line with a long tradition starting in antiquity he considers the resort to the church fathers a theological principle and provides it with an original rationale: only by their «Erst-Antwort», he argues, revelation achieved historical presence and permanence. In particular, he points to some groundbreaking developments that make the significance of the first Christian centuries manifest such as the formation of the biblical canon, the formulation of the fundamental creeds, and the innovative creation of theology as an intrinsic reflection on faith. This paper also deals with the criticism that Ratzinger's patristic orientation has received as well as with his special fondness for Augustine.