Prof. Kevin Uhalde / 593-0220
423 Bentley Annex

call # 11600

lecture: TTh 10:30-11:50 in Ellis 111
office appointments via email



This course explores the historical development of Christianity between the first and fifth centuries, from the lifetime of Paul to the Council of Chalcedon, touching on recent scholarly and popular debates, as well as major themes and figures from the period. It fulfills the College of Arts & Sciences Humanities requirement and an elective in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Objectives for the Course are that you become able to express informed, persuasive, and historically sensitive responses to topics such as these:

·      What does Christianity owe to Judaism? What does it owe to Greco-Roman culture?

·      How is writing and literacy important to the history of Christianity?

·      Did Christianity change the lives of women more than men?

·      What does it mean to persecute or to be persecuted?

·      How did martyrs and saints become important to Christianity?

·      What did it mean to be a church and how did hierarchies emerge?

·      Was Christianity a popular religion or an elite religion?

These are broad questions which we return to throughout the semester. Answering them historically means as they pertain to a particular time and place. In order to do so, you will need to learn about ancient beliefs in the supernatural, public and private rituals, different philosophical traditions, gender norms and attitudes toward sexuality, and what it meant for Christianity to emerge as a religion of empire. You will also come to know some of the men and women renowned as preachers and philosophers, leaders and recluses, heroes and troublemakers.

What’s Expected is that you attend class, take notes, read as much as possible, and have worthwhile things to say and write. Participation is based on actual participation in class and journals, not just showing up; grades are assigned three times (weeks 5, 10, and 15). Four in-class quizzes check on progress and comprehension. Groups will debate over heresy in Weeks 7 and 15: winners get bonus points. Everyone takes the first exam. You choose between a final exam or 8-10 page paper.

Google Drive is where detailed descriptions of assignments and other materials are to be found and written assignments are to be submitted. Create a Gmail account and sign up on the roster.

Weighting of the Grades goes like this:
10% Participation  20% Quizzes  20% Debates  20% First Exam  30% Final Exam or Paper

Class Policy allows for late or make-up work only in case of serious, documented illness or emergencies including death in the family (contact Dean of Students, 593-1800). Cheating or plagiarism generates a failing grade for the assignment and referral to Community Standards. Do not distract yourself or others with noise, electronics, texting, coming late or leaving early, sleeping, or other annoying behavior. I will ask you once to stop, before giving an F for that unit’s participation. There’s no formal attendance policy, but you’re unlikely to pass without attending.

Help with the course is always available, just ask. I want every student to do well and learn from this course. I’m happy to see you after class, in my office whenever I am there, or by appointment (email me). Please let me know if you have needs or disabilities requiring my attention; I am happy to accommodate you according to university policy.

Books You Must Possess are listed by publisher’s price, but discount and used copies of them all are widely available, including at Little Professor Book Center (65 S. Court St.). Except for Lynch, you must have these books with you in class when they’re assigned.

1.     Joseph H. Lynch, Early Christianity: A Brief History (Oxford, 2009) ISBN 978-0195138030 $32.64 (amz, abe)

2.     Kate Cooper, Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women (Overlook, 2013) ISBN 978-1468307405 $29.95 (amz, abe)

3.     Ramsey MacMullen, The Second Church: Popular Christianity A.D. 200-400 (Society of Biblical Literature, 2009) ISBN 978-1589834033 $24.99 (amz, abe)

4.     Garry Wills, Font of Life: Ambrose, Augustine, and the Mystery of Baptism (Oxford, 2012) ISBN 978-0199768516 $21.95 (amz, abe)

Course Schedule and Deadlines for reading assignments, due by class time on day listed.

Week 1 (Aug. 26-28) total reading: 17 pp.

Tu. Introduction

Th. Judaism—read Lynch chs. 1-2 (pp. 1-9, 13-22) and look to next week

Week 2 (Sep. 2-4) total reading: 100 pp.

Tu. Jesus—read Lynch chs. 3-4 (pp. 24-35, 37-50)

Th. Paul—read Cooper chs. 1-3 (pp. 1-76)

Week 3 (Sep. 9-11) total reading: 52 pp. Quiz 1 on Tuesday

Tu. Apocrypha—read Cooper ch. 4 (pp. 77-104)

Th. Prophets and Presbytersread Lynch chs. 5-6 (pp. 53-78)

Week 4 (Sep. 16-18) total reading: 55 pp.

Tu. Martyrdom—read Lynch ch. 7 (pp. 79-90); Cooper ch. 5 (pp. 105-130)

Th. Apologists—read Lynch chs. 8-9 (pp. 91-120)

Week 5 (Sep. 23-25) First Exam on Thursday

Tu. Free Discussion and Review

Th. First Exam


Week 6 (Sep. 30-Oct. 2) total reading: 63 pp.

Tu. Imperial Politics—read Lynch chs. 10-11 (pp. 123-9, 131-42)

Th. Church Politics—read Cooper ch. 6 (pp. 131-62); Lynch ch. 12 (pp. 144-59)

Week 7 (Oct. 7-9) total reading: 26 pp. Debate on Thursday

Tu. Theology and Practice—read Lynch chs. 13-15 (pp. 160-89)

Th. Choose A Path

Week 8 (Oct. 14-16) total reading: 48 pp. Quiz 2 on Tuesday

Tu. Quiz & Grading plus Final Project Overview

Th. Places and Spaces: Eastern Empire—read MacMullen chs. 1-2 (pp. 1-50)

Week 9 (Oct. 21-23) total reading: 63 pp.

Tu. Final Project Meetings (by individual appointment)

Th. Places and Spaces: Western Empire—read MacMullen chs. 3-5 (pp. 51-114)

Week 10 (Oct. 28-30) total reading: 56 pp. Quiz 3 on Thursday  (last day to withdraw is Friday)

Tu. Asceticism—read Lynch ch. 16 (pp. 191-210)

Th. Cappadocians—read Lynch ch. 17 (pp. 212-22); Cooper ch. 7 (pp. 163-90)


Week 11 (Nov. 4-6) total reading: 62 pp.

Tu. Holy Land—read Cooper ch. 8 (pp. 191-224)

Th. Hermits—read Cooper ch. 9 (pp. 225-54)


Week 12 (Nov. 11-13) total reading: 41 pp.

Tu. No Class, Veterans Day

Th. Bishops—read Wills intro, chs. 1-3 (pp. 3-16, 19-47)


Week 13 (Nov. 18-20) total reading: 81 pp.

Tu. Heresy—read Wills chs. 4-5 (pp. 49-82)

Th. Conversionread Wills chs. 6-8 (pp. 85-133)


Week 14 (Nov. 25-27) total reading: 34 pp. Quiz 4 on Tuesday

Tu. Sin—read Wills chs. 9-11 (pp. 137-71)

Th. No Class, Thanksgiving


Week 15 (Dec. 2-4) total reading: 60 pp. Debate on Thursday

Tu. East and West—read Cooper ch. 10, epilogue (pp. 255-87)

Th. Choose A Path and Review—read Lynch chs. 18-20 (pp. 223-51)


The University Registrar has scheduled the Final Exam for Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 10:10 AM.