Honors | Introduction to Christianity (REL)
R247 | 10308 | Sylvester Johnson
LEC TuTh 2:30-3:20pm
DIS F 10:10-11:00am
This course introduces students to the history of Christian
traditions outside of the West. Students will learn about the
beginnings of Christianity as a Mediterranean religion, starting
with its origins as a Jewish movement of ethnic rebellion and
following its spread and development throughout the globe. Readings
cover the early centuries of African Christian communities among
Egyptian ascetics and Donatists, the worlds of practice and belief
among Syrian and Armenian Christians and the greater realm of
Byzantine lands, and other Christianities in what would emerge
as ‘Muslim lands.’ Students will learn about pivotal themes that
have animated recent studies of Christian history: Who was Jesus?
Who wrote “the Bible”? When? What was Gnosticism? What
other “lost Christianities” composed the early churches? How did
Christians relate to Muslims and Jews in the East? What ideas did
early Christians entertain about imperialism, slavery, gender, sex,
ethnicity, trance, and meditation? What of magic and martyrs,
angels and demons?
Since the twentieth century, the demographic center of Christianity
has shifted from the West to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The
course, for this reason, will devote special attention to
contemporary forms of Christianity indigenous to Africa (such as the
independent Aladura and Zionist churches) and Asia (such as the
minjung tradition) and to Christian traditions of veneration and
healing in Latin America.
Students will write brief papers that respond to assigned readings.
Exams combine multiple choice and essay formats.