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Early christian history syllabus


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Early christian history syllabus

  1. 1. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History1Course DescriptionAn introduction to the establishment, spread and development of the Christian faith up to andincluding the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE, paying particular attention to majortrends, personalities, and events influencing the life of the church during the first five centuriesas it took shape in the Jewish culture and the Greco-Roman world. Primary sources in translationand secondary church history sources will be used.Course ObjectivesAfter successfully completing this course, the student will be able to understand the importanceof early Christian history and competently employ this knowledge in reading, research, andministry. This knowledge will also inform and contribute to a greater facility in dealing with theNew Testament, which is firmly rooted in the context of these earliest centuries.finalsite, LiveText& Google+This class will employ finalsite,LiveText& Google Plus to furnish online components to thelearning experience.At the finalsite web site you will find copies of the syllabus and any other class materials inAdobe Acrobat format, which you can view online and download. Also, you can utilize emailand threaded discussions to stay in contact with both the instructor and your fellow students. Inaddition, announcements will be posted and a class calendar will be kept. You can reach thecourse by going to Urshan Graduate School of Theology’s web site at Youwill need to click on the ―Students‖ button and sign in using your username and password thatcan be obtained from UGST when you sign up for the course.The LiveText website will be used exclusively to receive all written assignments (with theexception of the online postings). I will not receive the papers for this course via email. Youmust use LiveText. You can reach the LiveText website at If you donot have a LiveText account, please contact Carolyn Simoneaux, Registrar. Please note that allsubmission times are based on Eastern Standard Time.Finally, it is essential for you to utilize a feature of your UGST email, namely Google+. It isthrough the hangout function of Google+ that the class will live connect when not in session oncampus. The instructions for setting up your Google+ can be found by clicking this link. At thetimes stipulated either in the syllabus or via further communication, you need to log-in online toyour UGST email account from a computer with functioning webcam/microphone. Please do so5 minutes before the stipulated time. You will then receive an invitation to join a ―Hangout.‖If you need any assistance or if you would like to attempt a trial run, please contact MarjorieTruman (314-921-9290 ext. 7110).
  2. 2. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History2Required Reading/Viewing(see reading/viewing requirements below)* Also available in a Kindle EditionJohn Philip Jenkins. Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two EmperorsDecided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years. New York, NY:HarperCollins, 2011.*In this fascinating account of the surprisingly violent fifth-century church, Philip Jenkins describes howpolitical maneuvers by a handful of powerful characters shaped Christian doctrine. Were it not for thesebattles, today’s church could be teaching something very different about the nature of Jesus, and the papacyas we know it would never have come into existence. Jesus Wars reveals the profound implications of whatamounts to an accident of history: that one faction of Roman emperors and militia-wielding bishopsdefeated another.Thomas F. Matthews. The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art. Princeton,NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.Between the third and sixth centuries, the ancient gods, goddesses, and heroes who had populated theimagination of humankind for a millennium were replaced by a new imagery of Christ and his saints.Thomas Mathews explores the many different, often surprising, artistic images and religious interpretationsof Christ during this period. He challenges the accepted theory of the "Emperor Mystique," which,interpreting Christ as king, derives the vocabulary of Christian art from the propagandistic imagery of theRoman emperor. This revised edition contains a new preface by the author and a new chapter on the originand development of icons in private domestic cult.Richard A. Norris. The Christological Controversy (Sources of Early Christian Thought).Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1980.*This book is a collection of texts designed to illustrate the development of Christian thought about theperson of Christ in the patristic era. The earliest text translated comes from the latter half of the secondcentury, when the ideas and problems, which were to dominate Christological thought in this period, werefirst crystallized. The latest is the well-known "Definition of the Faith" of the Council of Chalcedon, whichgenerally has been accepted as defining the limits of Christological orthodoxy.Cyril Richardson. Early Christian Fathers (Library of Christian Classics). New York, NY:Touchstone, 1995.*Richard E. Rubenstein. When Jesus Became God: The Epic Fight over Christ’s Divinity in theLast Days of Rome. New York, NY: Mariner Books, 2000.*The life of Jesus, and the subsequent persecution of Christians during the Roman Empire, have come todefine what many of us know about early Christianity. The fervent debate, civil strife, and bloody riotswithin the Christian community as it was forming, however, is a story that is rarely told. Richard E.Rubenstein takes readers to the streets of the Roman Empire during the fourth century, where a divisiveargument over the divinity of Jesus Christ was underway. Ruled by a Christian emperor, followers of Jesusno longer feared for the survival of their monotheistic faith, but they found themselves in different camps—led by two charismatic men—on the topic of Christian theology. Arius, an Alexandrian priest and poet,preached that Jesus, though holy, is less than God, while Athanasius, a brilliant and violent bishop, saw anydiminution of Jesus godhead as the work of the devil. Between them stood Alexander, the powerful Bishopof Alexandria, in search of a solution that would keep the empire united and the Christian faith alive.
  3. 3. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History3Everett Ferguson. Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to Pre-Reformation. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan, 2005.*Church History offers a unique contextual view of how the Christian church spread and developed. It didso not in a vacuum, but in a setting of times, cultures, and events that both influenced and were influencedby the church. Church History looks closely at the integral link between the history of the world and that ofthe church.Volume one explores the development of the church from the days of Jesus to the years prior to theReformation. Filled with maps, charts, and illustrations, it offers overviews of the Roman, Greek, andJewish worlds; insights into the church’s relationship to the Roman empire, with glimpses into paganattitudes toward Christians; the place of art and architecture, literature and philosophy, both sacred andsecular; and much more, spanning the time from the first through the thirteenth centuries.Empires – Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites. DVD. 2003.Empires – The Roman Empire in the First Century. DVD. 2002.Reading/Viewing Requirements (see required reading/viewing above)The spine of the course is Everett Ferguson’s Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to Pre-Reformation. We will be using the first 14 chapters (through Augustine, Pelagius, andSemipelagianism).Cyril Richardson’s Early Christian Fathers and Richard Norris’ The ChristologicalControversyare collections of early Christian texts from the first five centuries, along withintroductory surveys of the period and the texts. It is from these books that you are to choosetwo primary source texts to compare in your comparison paper and one additional primarysource text for your response paper. You are responsible for your exposure to this material, aswell as the introductions to each text.Richard Rubenstein’s When Jesus Became God, John Philip Jenkin’sJesus Wars, and ThomasMatthews’ The Clash of Gods are to be read in their entirety.You are also to view both DVDs in their entirety before classes commence. This represents over7 hours of important information, which should not be shortchanged and is considered class time.If you are totally unfamiliar with the story of the Roman Empire, it is suggested that you alsowatch Rome – Power & Glory. DVD. 1998.Course RequirementsYour performance in the class will be evaluated by the following items and grading schedule:1) Online posting and class participation – 10%.2) Primary Sources Papers (2)a. Comparison Paper – 15%b. Response Paper – 15%3) Chronological Timeline Chart (to be submitted with the Final/Take Home Exam) – 10%.4) A Final/Take Home Exam (1) – 50%.
  4. 4. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History4This course by its very structure requires class attendance. It also requires that all reading becompleted before we begin class at UGST on Monday, June24th. All Primary Sources Papersmust also be completed and submitted to the instructor two weeks before class begins.TWOIMPORTANTNOTES:First, all work must be completed and turned in on time. If it is late, it will not be graded andthus the student will receive no credit for that work. Again, online posting (due: June 3), primarysource papers (due: June 10), chronological timeline and final/take home exam (due: July 29)must be completed and turned in on time in order to be graded and receive credit. Late is thesame as if you did not do it. All work should be done according to academic integrity andavoiding all forms of cheating and plagiarism.Second, all work must be edited. Good writers find a way to edit their writing. Utilize theWriting Center at Urshan College for learning the rules of grammar, crafting a thesis statement,or going about the task of writing up your research. For help with editing, find a fellowclassmate that knows how to edit. If you turn in unedited work, it will cost you. Examples of alack of editing are run-on sentences, sentence fragments, inconsistent use of tense, spellingerrors, and obvious misuse or absence of punctuation. Unedited writing having greater than 3 ofthese errors per page will receive a grade no higher than a 2.5 (B-). Unedited writing havinggreater than 5 errors per page will receive no credit. This is not about how well you expressyourself. This is about a fundamental level of competence and excellence required in all writtenmaterials.Online PostingYou are required to complete a posting on the discussion board of the Early Christian Historyclass. This can be found on the class website.Under the discussion entitled ―Who Am I?‖, you are to compose an introduction of yourselfincluding the following information—name, where you are from, educational background, statusat UGST (on-campus vs. distance learning vs. auditor; M.T.S. vs. MDiv. vs. MACM; first-year,second year, third year, etc.), why you are taking Early Christian History and what you hope toget out of it. Feel free to add other details to the introduction and please read everyone else’sintroduction.This posting must be completed the first Monday in June (June 3). The posting should be aseparate posting within the ―Who Am I?‖ discussion board. Please follow the example of theprofessor.Class ParticipationYour vocal participation and interaction are essential to the success of the class and theachievement of the course objectives. You must think, refine, question, articulate, and interactwith both your fellow students and the professor.
  5. 5. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History5Primary Source PapersThe purpose of these short papers is to facilitate your knowledge of and interaction with some ofthe key primary historical sources (the foundation of all modern forms of history) in earlyChristian history. Without the primary sources, there is no history. The class sessionsthemselves will be a sort of secondary source in which these (and other) primary sources arediscussed. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with all of these primary sources inadvance of the class, though no more than three of these may be used for the papers.Comparison PaperThe primary source comparison paper should contain the following elements:no more than 4 and no less than 3 double-spaced typed pages (12 point font, 1‖ marginsall around and footnotes with consistent style);a comparison of two primary sources from early Christian history (not already used inresponse paper);thedevelopment and execution of an argument that explains how the two worksunderconsideration illustrate an aspect of the development of early Christian history;the argument must be based on the primary text and not on secondary sources. (Forexample, one might argue that Paul was a radical Jew and cite passages from his letters.An incorrect method for this paper would be to merely cite Daniel Boyarin’s book by thatname to make that argument.)Response PaperThe primary source responsepaper should contain the following elements:3 double-spaced typed pages (12 point font, 1‖ margins all around and footnotes withconsistent style);an in-depth examination of one primary source from early Christian history (not alreadyused in comparison paper);some supporting secondary sources may be briefly employed, but the argument must beclearly your own;begin with historical context for the author and the text (approximately 1.5 pages);end with analysis and opinion concerning the significance and contribution of the text toour understanding of early Christian history (approximately 1.5 pages).The student is to read the primary source(s), consult any secondary sources (see recommendedresources below and any others found in research) necessary for filling in the gaps in historicalcontext (whether for the student or for the paper), and then write each paper according to theabove-specified elements.Chronological Timeline ChartThe chronological timeline chart—to be turned in with the final/take home exam—should be aclass-long project. The purpose is to allow you to gain a sense of time and connectednessconcerning the major trends, personalities, and events influencing the life of the church duringthe first five centuries. As you read in preparation for the class and write papers on the primarysources, you should spend time plugging in people, places, events, writings, and any other items
  6. 6. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History6which have struck you as having significance for the study of church history. There are no rightor wrong answers; however, time spent in organization and design will greatly influence both thefunctionality of the chart and the value of your grade, though the timeline is more of a learningaid than a measurement of learning or aptitude.The Chronological Timeline Chart will be due,along with the Final/Take Home Exam, on Monday, July 29th.Final/Take Home ExamThe final exam will be a take-home assignment that will be distributed at the conclusion ofclasses. It will be comprehensive and will require the student to draw upon all of the work donein the class to date. The Final/Take Home Exam will be due on Monday, July 29th.Inclusive Language PolicyThis class will follow Urshan Graduate School of Theology’s inclusive language policy: ―Allfaculty are expected to bring Christian sensitivity to gender issues in all relationships at thegraduate school, remembering our historic commitment to women in ministry. Appropriatelyinclusive language should be used in the classroom and in written communications. In additionto setting a good example, faculty should train students in their verbal and written expressions toemploy inclusive language.‖Contact Information and Office HoursIf you have any further questions or do not fully understand any part of the syllabus or thestructure of the class, please contact the Instructor.Steven J. Beardsley Mobile: 302-709-190512 Balanger Road Church: 302-738-7899Chapel Hill Email: sbeardsley@ugst.eduNewark, DE 19711-3806UGST Office: By appointment onlyHome Office: By phone between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm EST
  7. 7. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History7Class ScheduleMonday: 2-6 pmTuesday: 9-1 pm & 2-6 pmWednesday: 9-1 pm & 2-6 pmThursday: 9-1 pm & 2-6 pmFriday: 9-12 pm& 1-3 pmClass Timeline, Schedule, and DatesApril 1-June 24Required Reading/ViewingReading primary sources and writing Primary Source PapersDeveloping Chronological Timeline ChartJune 3Online Postings dueJune 10All Primary Source Papers dueJune 24-28Classes on the campus of UGSTJune 29-July 29Completing Chronological Timeline ChartCompleting Final/Take Home ExamJuly 29Chronological Timeline Chart dueFinal/Take Home Exam due
  8. 8. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History8Course Recommended ResourcesMarilyn McCord Adams. What Sort of Human Nature? Medieval Philosophy and theSystematics of Christology. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1999.Henry Chadwick. The Early Church. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1967.F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, Eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 3rdEdition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.Everett Ferguson, Ed.Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. New York, NY: Garland Publishing,Inc., 1990.Robin Lane Fox.Pagans and Christians. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1986.W.H.C. Frend. The Rise of Christianity. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984.Edward R. Hardy. Christology of the Later Fathers. Louisville and London: WestminsterJohn Knox Press, 1954.Timothy Paul Jones. Christian History Made Easy. Torrance, CA: Rose Publishing, 1999.J.N.D. Kelly. Early Christian Doctrines. Revised Edition. San Francisco, CA: Harper & RowPublishers, 1978.__________. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press,1986.Joseph H. Lynch. The Medieval Church: A Brief History. London and New York:Longman, 1992.Colin McEvedy. The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History. New York: Penguin,1992.John Meyendorff. Christ in Eastern Christian Thought. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’sSeminary Press, 1975.Susan Lynn Peterson. Timeline Charts of the Western Church. Grand Rapids, MI: ZondervanPublishing House, 1999.Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox, Eds. Ante-Nicene Fathers. 10Vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994.Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox, Eds. Nicene and Post-NiceneFathers. First Series. 14 Vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994.Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox, Eds. Nicene and Post-NiceneFathers. Second Series. 14 Vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994.
  9. 9. Steven J. Beardsley June, 2013Adjunct Associate Professor of Biblical Studies HT 501: Early Christian History9Robert C. Walton.Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986.Robert L. Wilken. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them. New Haven, CT: YaleUniversity Press, 1984.Frances M. Young. From Nicaea to Chalcedon; A Guide to the Literature and itsBackground. London: SCM Press, 1983.