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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Michael A Williams
RELIG 420
Seattle Campus

The World of the Early Church

Early Christian church within the context of the Greco-Roman sociopolitical, philosophical, and religious environment. Covers the period from about AD 100 to 300. Christian thinkers and documents studied include both the classical "orthodox" and the "heretical." Recommended: HIST 307, RELIG 220, or RELIG 324.

Class description

This course focuses on the history and literature of Christianity during the second and third centuries CE, and the relation between Christianity and the history and culture, especially religious culture, of the period. We will be reading examples of a wide variety of early Christian literature, from the more official to the more popular, from the more "orthodox" to the "heretical." This is the period during which Christianity expanded numerically from a tiny minority movement to become the largest religious movement in the Roman Empire. The course gives attention to some of the factors and dynamics that account for this general success, while surveying the rich diversity in belief and practice attested during this period of development. The wide variety of "Christianities" from this period include some strikingly different interpretations of tradition, scripture, family, society, nature, life and death.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lecture/discussion

Recommended preparation

Some course that include background in history of early Christianity, such as: RELIG 201, 220, 322, 421, or HIST 307

Class assignments and grading

Students will participate in two sets of panel discussions, and will submit notes for this. They will also maintain an evolving journal throughout the quarter, of which versions will be submitted at three different points, including the final version. This journal and the work in the panels are to be mutually supportive.

Quality of written work and class participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Michael A Williams
Date: 08/27/2011