Religious Studies | Introduction to Christianity (prev # R247)
A250 | 30894 | D. Fruchtman


2nd 8 wk class

COLL A&H, Area A (Africa, Europe and West Asia)for major and minor

The study of Christianity is the study of history, of philosophy, of
people, places and cultures, of texts, of art, of economics, society
and politics, of relationships between people and relationships
between ideas.  Over its two-thousand-year history, Christianity has
shaped and been shaped by its surroundings, has influenced and been
influenced by its intellectual climate.  It has been, and continues
to be, a huge presence in the world’s political landscape.   This
course is an introduction to Christianity, a jumping-off point for
further study and a way of familiarizing yourself with the diversity
and history of one of the driving forces in society today.

So, what is Christianity? Sandra Frankiel defines it simply as “the
religion of those people who believe in Jesus Christ as the savior
of the world.” But, as Frankiel points out, “this immediately raises
more questions:  Who is Jesus Christ?  What is a savior?  What is
meant by ‘believe in’?” Christians throughout history have debated
all of these terms.  Was Jesus fully human or fully divine?  How is
the messiah (the Jewish term meaning “anointed one,” which is
translated into Greek as “Christos” or “Christ”) supposed to save
the world?  And, for that matter, what do we mean by “world”?  Is
salvation accessible to everyone?  And what does that salvation look
like?

All of these issues (and many, many others!) have, at one point or
another, caused differences of opinion in Christian history, making
Christianity an incredibly diverse phenomenon and giving it a very
convoluted and intriguing history.  This course will follow that
history, beginning with Jesus and the gospels (canonical and non-
canonical), weaving through Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the
Reformation and the American context before ending with discussions
of contemporary issues in Christianity such as civil rights,
poverty, politics, and the ordination of women.