Religious Studies | Introduction to Christianity
R247 | 12066 | Smith, W


The above course carries Arts and Humanities distribution.

This course introduces students to the history of Christian
traditions both inside and outside of the West.  Students will learn
about the beginnings of Christianity as a Mediterranean religion,
starting with its origins as a Jewish movement and follow its spread
and development through different cultures and times. Readings, for
example, cover certain early African Christian communities such as
the early Egyptian ascetics, the place and function of martyrs in
the Roman Empire, and the role of art in the Byzantine Empire.
Students will learn about pivotal themes that have animated recent
studies of Christian history such as:  Who wrote "the Bible"?
When?  What other "lost Christianities" composed the early churches?
Thinking over longer periods of time: What concepts of pluralism and
ecumenicalism have Christians developed in different eras?  What
ideas have Christians entertained about such concerns as politics,
gender and sex? What is the relationship between scriptural
revelation and mysticism? Surveying a broad swath of time, this
class will also consider more modern concerns as the relationship
between missionary work and colonialism as well as the impact of the
demographic shift of Christianity’s center to Africa, Asia, and
Latin America in the last century.  The course, then, will try to
balance its coverage of Christian history across a wide range of
locations and themes in order to touch upon a broad selection of the
many types of and issues in Christianity that have existed and
continue to thrive in the world.

Students will write brief papers that respond to assigned readings.
Exams combine multiple choice and essay formats.