This course aims to introduce students to the richness of the early Christian tradition between the first and fifth centuries. This is not a survey of great theologians, but, rather, an exploration of the social, ritual and doctrinal dimensions of life in the early Christian communities. The course will consider the Church's relationship with the Empire and discuss Christianity's success in the Mediterranean and beyond.
- The Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire
- The first Christian communities
- Ritual life in the first century
- Readings include excerpts from: Tacitus’ Annals, the First Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, and The Didache.
- Christians in the empire
- Apostolic Christianity
- The Church and her martyrs
- Readings include excerpts from: correspondence between the Emperor Trajan and Pliny, Justin Martyr’s First Apology and Dialogue with Trypho, Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians, Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, The Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs, and The Martyrdom of Polycarp.
- Crisis in the third century
- A battle of ideas
- Liturgical life and church order
- Readings include excerpts from: Cyprian’sLetters, Origen’s Against Celsus, and The Apostolic Tradition.
- Diocletian and the great persecution
- Constantine and Imperial Christianity
- Constantine’s successors (church/state relations and the resurgence of official paganism)
- Theological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries
- Readings include excerpts from: The Edict of Milan and other imperial statements, Lactantius’ Divine Institutes, and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History.
- St. Augustine and The City of God
- Monasticism in the east and west
- Readings include excerpts from: Augustine’s City of God, Athanasius’ The Life of Anthony, and John Cassian’s The Conferences.
- Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
- Typically 15-20 students in each course.
- All readings available online in course.
- Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
- Weekly written assignments (150-200 words) required.
- Weekly facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.
- All course materials are available in the course.
- Weekly reading of lecture text and primary sources.
- Participation in class discussion using discussion area (minimum 2 comments, questions or responses weekly.)
- Weekly written assignment (150-200 words.)
- Weekly chat session with other students in course (3 required throughout course.)
- Course evaluation.
4 to 6 hours a week (time varies from student to student depending on your learning style and schedule.)
A Certificate of Completion awarding 30 Contact Hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.