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Fall 2012

CH500: EARLY CHURCH HISTORY. Grayson Carter.


This course examines the development of Church History from the post-apostolic period through to the election of Gregory I as Pope. Close attention will be given to the lives and principal writings of the most significant Christian leaders and theologians, to the development of the institutional church and to its complex relationship with the state, to the outbreak of various heresies and to the church’s response to heresy, and to the historical context in which these important events occurred.


COURSE OBJECTIVES/LEARNING OUTCOMES: This course will equip students to (1) think critically about the key issues, theological ideas, major movements and influential personalities that shaped the church from its origins until AD 590; (2) gain an awareness of key original source documents, creeds, treatises, apologies, etc. and how these were interpreted in their own time and by later Christian writers; (3) articulate chronological development and the evolution of both orthodox and heterodox doctrines over the first five centuries of church history; and, (4) gain a deeper appreciation of the breadth, unity, and diversity of the church.



The effective practice of Christian ministry requires an understanding of the important historical and theological developments that occurred during the first five centuries of Church History — a period in which a number of the most important Christian doctrines first gained widespread articulation and acceptance. While our classroom investigations and discussions will be primarily historical and theological in nature, every effort will be made to set aside time in class for the practical (i.e., modern) application of the material under consideration.



The course will meet over four weekends (5/6, 19/20 October, 2/3, 16/17 November). The class sessions will run from 6.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. on Fridays and from 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. on Saturday, for a total of 32 hours. Class time will be devoted to lectures, questions and answers, and classroom discussion. Adequate breaks will be provided. 


REQUIRED READING: Total: 895 pages + class handouts.

González, Justo L. The Story of Christianity (Prince Press, 1999). ISBN: 978-1565635227. 843 pages (1-220 required). $19.00.

Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. (Penguin, 1993). ISBN: 978-0140231991. 320 pages. $11.52.

Bettenson, Henry and Chris Maunder, eds., Documents of the Christian Church, 4th ed. (Oxford, 2011). 528 pages (1-95 required).

            ISBN: 978-0199568987. $29.95.

Clark, Elizaeth A. Women in the Early Church (Liturgical Press, 1984). ISBN: 978-0814653326. 260 pages. $18.83.

Class Handouts.



Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Doctrines, Revised ed. (HarperOne, 1978). ISBN 978-0060643348. 511 pages. $15.82.

Bettenson, Henry. The Early Christian Fathers. (Oxford, 1969). ISBN 978-0192830098. 302 pages. $39.21.

Chadwick, Henry. Augustine: A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford, 2001). ISBN 978-0192854520. 144 pages. $8.50.

D. H. Williams, Evangelicals and Tradition. (Baker Academic, 2005). ISBN: 978-0801027130. 192 pages. $19.70.

Amy Oden, ed., In Her Words. Women’s Writings in the History of Christian Thought (Abingdon, 1994). ISBN:

978-0687459728. 348 pages. $24.69.

Livingstone, E.A. ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 2005). ISBN 978-0192802903.

1840 pages. $165.88.



Mid-term examination (take-home): 20% of final grade.

Two 5-page research papers: 30% of final grade.

Final examination (take-home; non-comprehensive): 30% of final grade.

Class attendance and participation: 20% of final grade.

Short quiz covering heresy during the Early Christian Period: Passing Grade Required.






FINAL EXAMINATION: Yes                                                                                                       Rev. 6/22/12