Honors | Introduction to Christianity (REL)
A250 | 27814 | Sylvester Johnson
DIS F 10:10-11:00am
LEC TuTh 2:30-3:20pm
This course introduces students to the history of Christianity as a
truly global religion, both within and beyond Western societies.
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
Coptic 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 and West? 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 include 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
Students will write brief papers that respond to assigned readings.
Exams combine multiple choice and essay formats.