[Medieval red headpiece design]

Religion 241: History of Christian Thought I
Calendar of Readings & Subjects

Go directly to:

Diversity and Conflict

I. Beginnings

Sept. 9-11 (W-F)
The "Jesus Movement" and its place in the Judaism of the day
Who's in charge? The Disciples & Family of Jesus
What's Central: Jesus' Teaching or his Death?
Paul and the Mission to the Greco-Roman World
Relations between Jewish and "Hellenist" Christians

Readings on the Beginnings of Christianity from the New Testament:
Vol. I: Gospel According to Mark (NT)
Vol. 2: Luke's 2nd Volume: The Acts of the Apostles (NT)
Paul the Apostle, Epistles 1-2 to the Corinthians (NT)
Paul's epistle to the Galatians (NT)

II. Oriental Regional Traditions: Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor

Sept. 14 (M) Palestine & Syria: the Foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church

Encratism ("self control"): the first ascetics and hermits
Apostolic tradition: centralized & authoritative doctrine
The "Imitatio Christi"

The Martyrdom of James (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. Bk 2, ch. 23, §5)
The Didache
Sept. 16-18
Transcendent Father God & Immanent Mother Spirit
Free will and human perfection
The divine Christ who couldn't have suffered (Docetism)
The opposition of the Bishops (Controlling spiritualists and putting women in their place)

The Odes of Solomon, nos. 3-4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 18, 19, 39 (Charlesworth)
John, Epistles 1-3 (NT)
Ignatius of Antioch, Epistles to the Trallians and to the Smyrnaeans
Ps. Paul, First Epistle to Timothy (NT)
Sept. 21-25 (M-F) Asia Minor: Prophetism, millenarism and induced "out-of-body" experience

"Phrygian Ecstasy" (Montanism)
What to do about prophetesses?

Paul's letters to the Corinthians, Galatians (NT, review)
The Revelation of John (NT)
Montanus and his followers, fragments of lost writings related to Montanism (Grant, Second Century Christianity, pp. 63, 65-82, 94-108

IV. The Kingdom of God and the Roman Empire

Sept. 28 (M) The State and the Divine Order of Creation
Imperial and ecclesiastical political order
The Stoic cosmology and the Jewish-Christian views of the natural world

Clement of Rome, To the Corinthians
Sept 30 - Oct 2 (W-F) The Roman Empire: Apologetic & Christian Witness. (In class video)
Philosophy (Stoicism and Platonism) Christianized
A Philosopher's view of the Devil
The "Word" (Logos) of God" in Christian Platonism

The Epistle "To Diognetus"
Justin Martyr, The First Apology
Minucius Felix (in-class video dramatization)
Oct. 5-9
The Roman Empire: two centuries of Martyrdom and Persecution.

Oct. 5 (M) Introduction: survey of the history of persecution (in-class video)
Oct. 7 (W)
Martyrdom as political resistance in the early Roman Empire
Group control through martyrdom in the early Church (D. W. Riddle theory)
Martyrdom as an individualistic route to personal salvation

Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., Books IV-V,5.
Pliny the Younger, Epistles, Bk. 5, ch. 10, nos. 96-7 (Radice)
The Martyrdom of Polycarp (Richardson, pp. 149-58
The Martyrdom of Justin
Tacitus, Annals (handout; in class video dramatization)

Optional Readings:
IV Maccabees, chs. 4-12: Martyrdom of the Jewish high priest Eleazar and a mother and her seven sons (Charles, Pseudepigrapha, pp 670-78 or other edition)
Oct 9 (F) Women and martyrdom in the early church
Was there a distinctively women's way of understanding finding meaning in martyrdom?

The Martyrdom of Perpetua (Musurillo, The Acts of the Christian Martyrs, pp. xxiv-xxv, 107-131; in class video dramatization).
The Martyrdom of Crispina (Musurillo, The Acts of the Christian Martyrs, pp. xliv, 304-309.

V. Internal Conflict

Oct 12-14
Irenaeus of Lyons and the Gnostic Challenge to Catholic Apostolic Tradition in the West
Gnostic mythology
Gnostic inspiration and the problem of authority
The "Rule of Faith"

The Gospel of Truth and The Apocryphon of John (Robinson, pp. 37-49, 98-116)
Irenaeus, bp. of Lyons, The Refutation and Overthrow of the Knowledge (Gnosis) Falsely So Called (Bettenson, pp. 12-13, 65-102)
Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., Book V,6-13.
Oct 16, 19
The Ascetical Gnostic Challenge to Catholic Apostolic Tradition in the East
Syrian Ascetical Traditions & Gnosticism
Sexual continence and female power
Syrian Gnosticism as a female counterculture (the apostle: counterculture hero or villain?)
The concept of the "redeemed redeemer"

The Acts of Thomas, Acts 9-10 (Schneemelcher, pp. 486-512) The Acts of Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca and The Hymn of the Pearl

Optional Reading:
Stephan Davies, The Revolt of the Widows (reserve)
Oct 20-25 Fall Recess
Oct 26-28 (M-W) Introduction to the School of Alexandria: Clement of Alexandria & Origen
Allegorizing the scriptures
Christian Platonism and human deification

Selections, Bettenson, pp. 16-18, 168-84
Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., Bk. 6, chs.; 1-32
Oct. 30 - Nov 2
Task Group Projects: Prepare arguments inquisition of Origen to be held on Oct 21
Biblical interpretation as the foundation of theology
Presuppositions of Origen's Biblical interpretation
Origenism and the theory of "Apokatastasis"

Origen, On First Principles, chs. 3-4 (Greer, pp. 189-216; focus on chs. 1-4)
Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., Bk. 6, chs.; 1-32 (review)
Chadwick, ch. 6 (for reference & orientation)
Nov. 4-6 (W-F) The Bates Inquisition of 1993: Origen on trial as a heretic

Self Definition & Dominance

VI.The Third Century Persecutions and the Triumph of the Church in the Roman Empire under Constantine the Great

Nov. 9-11 (M-W) Constructing a sociohistorical theory about the Great Persecution
(Nov. 9) Video: From Christ to Constantine, the trial and testimony of the early church, Part V.

Diocletian, Edicts against the Christians
The Account of the Scillitan Martyrs Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. bks. 9 (complete) and 10 (chs. 5-end)
Eusebius, The Conversion of Constantine
The Edicts of Toleration, 311/313

Nov. 11 (W) The Arian Controversy, the Council of Nicea, and the Nicene Creed

Conflicting views of free will & human progress toward perfection
Conflict over the nature of Christ & his role in salvation

The Nicene Creed
Athanasius, selections (Bettenson 24-27, 274-99)
the letters of Arius and Eusebius, and the "Confession of the Arians" (Hardy, pp. 329-40)
Chadwick, chapters 8-9

The Beginnings of Medieval Christianity

VII. The Construction of a Holy World: Monasticism and Pilgrimage

introspection, guilt, transcendence
Augustine, The Confessions
paper topics on Augustine's confessions (one professor's suggestions)

Nov. 16-18
The transformation of the martyr mentality after the persecutions
The ascetic imagination: the world as the arena of struggle against demons and the inward contemplation of God
Athanasius, The Life of St. Antony
Chadwick, ch. 12
Nov. 20
The ascetic imagination and the Desert Fathers
martyrdom transformed: death as an ideal of human perfection
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (selections)
Nov. 22-29 Thanksgiving Recess
Thanksgiving Recess Reading:
Augustine, The Confessions
Nov. 30 - Dec. 2 (M-W) St. Augustine and the introspective conscience of the West or . . .
What happens when the classical intellectual mindset and the medieval ascetical imagination meet
Dec. 4 (F) Mount Athos: Concepts of holy land and human deification in Medieval Eastern Orthodoxy (slide lecture)
Dec. 7 - 11 Reading Week

Communications may be addressed by e-mail to
Robert W. Allison
Associate Prof. of Religion and
Chair of Classical & Medieval Studies