THEO 351
A History of Christian Thought

HIST 350

Syllabus Spring 2010
TT 9:30 HM 301

Prof. Jonathan Malesic
e-mail: jonathanmalesic(AT)
Tel: (570) 208-5900, ext. # 5482
Office: Hafey-Marian 402
King's College
Office Hours: MWF 1:00-2:00; TTh 11:00-12:00, and  by appointment

Prof. Pavlac
e-mail: bapavlac(AT)
Tel: (570) 208-5900, ext. # 5748
Office: Hafey-Marian 307
King's College
Office hours: TT 8:30-9:15 am, 11-12:15; Wed 2-3:30 pm;  F 8:30-9:45 am
and by appointment

I. Description:

The history of Christianity is a rich, complex story, full of tragedy and triumph.  The course focuses most on Christianity as a Western phenomenon, but also examines its becoming world-wide belief systems.  Study focuses on the conflicts that have shaped the ecclesiology, theology, and practice of Christians, placing them in their political, social, and cultural context.  The participant should gain a better awareness of the role of controversy and compromise in Christian history, as well as a deeper understanding of many significant beliefs, people, events, and trends.

II. Purpose

This is a History Major course, and a Theology Major course.

Objectives for the student:

General Learning Outcomes for the student:

In addition to the more content related objectives described above, this course has some general liberal learning goals. Successful completion of this course is expected to help improve your ability

  1. To manage information, which involves sorting data, ranking data for significance, synthesizing facts, concepts and principles.
  2. To understand and use organizing principles or key concepts against which miscellaneous data can be evaluated.
  3. To differentiate between facts, opinions and inferences.
  4. To frame questions in order to more clearly clarify a problem, topic or issue.
  5. To compare and contrast the relative merits of opposing arguments and interpretations, moving between the main points of each position.
  6. To organize your thoughts and communicate them clearly and concisely in a written form and oral presentations.
  7. To obtain practice in selecting and presenting information and arguments within a restricted environment, especially the limitations of time in exams.

III. General Requirements

1A. Class Participation & Attendance:

Participation and attendance are necessary because lecture and discussion provide the essentials for achieving class goals and objectives (Worth 50 points of the final grade). Thus a portion of your grade (about 10%) will depend on your in-class performance and presence, aside from graded quizzes, exams and papers.  You are required to attend each class, arrive on time, remain attentive, maintain proper classroom decorum, respond to questions and participate in discussion and small-group activities. You are encouraged to take notes and ask questions.

Several minor written assignments (a paragraph to one page in length) may also be required as reflections and reactions to class discussion and projects (10 points each), either due in class or at the next class.  These assignments and quizzes cannot be made-up if you miss them. 

All students who have a learning disability, physical handicap and/or any other possible impediment to class participation and requirements should schedule an appointment with the instructors within the first two weeks of classes to discuss available accommodations.  Only with the instructors' permission may class be recorded, only to be used for your own study, and the recordings must be erased after the exams.

If at some point during the semester you must discontinue the course, due to poor performance, illness or some other cause, be sure to follow proper procedures for withdrawal. 

If you miss an exam, contact the instructors as soon as possible. You may take a missed exam only at the discretion of the instructors.

A student who arrives at class late, after attendance is taken, must personally request that the absence be turned into a tardy mark, and an Absentee Assignment may be required. Students who need to leave a class session early, except for medical emergency, should notify the instructors before class begins.

2B. Absentee Assignment:

If you do miss a class, you must complete an Absentee Assignment.  You are to write a one-and-a-half-to-two page essay (in proper presentation format) discussing that day's readings.  
Deadlines: The assignment(s) should be turned in to the instructors at the beginning of the next class after you return.

In addition, several absences may directly affect your grade. 

Excused absences due to college activities or extended illness must be authorized by the appropriate college official. You should consult with the professor about making up/turning in missed work in advance or as soon as possible after your return.  After any absence, you are responsible for requesting hand-outs and already returned assignments from the professor or borrowing notes from other students.  Whether absences are excused or not, you may not get a higher grade than the percentage of classes attended.

Other absences are unexcused and will lower the class participation portions of your grade.  Remember, though, your health is your first priority.  If you are sick, stay home and recover.  A few unexcused absences will not significantly affect your grade.

3. Readings:

You are required to purchase and read the following texts:

The required readings are intended both to provide you with important factual and background information before class and to be used as review and reference works afterwards. Before class, you will read the chapters or pages assigned according to the class schedule.   Not all topics in the books will be covered in class, but you are responsible for them on the exam and in class discussion.

You should make notes in the margins or a notebook, underline key statements, highlight important passages, and/or annotate essential details in order to be better prepared for classroom discussion.

If necessary, the instructors may give quizzes to test your reading and comprehension of the texts.

3A.  Reading Sources:

For most classes you will have to read and discuss selected primary sources.  Be sure to read them (and their introductory material) carefully in advance.

As you read the sources, you consider the following questions:

For more on sources, see <>.

3B.  Index Card Notes:

At  the beginning of each class you may turn in no more than two index cards with notes on them from the reading for that class day. The index cards should include your name and the date. A few classes before each exam, we will return the index cards to you, and you may add notes to them, but you may not add more index cards. We will then collect them again and return them to you at the start of the exam.

The purpose of the index cards is to help you organize the facts of the readings so you can improve your interpretation of them. Exam questions will ask you to analyze, compare, synthesize, and evaluate the data the readings provide.

4.  Essay Assignments:

Longer essays are intended to build your skills in reading, research, analysis, and synthesis as well as communication.   For formatting issues go to <>.   For information about research go to <>.  For more on sources, see <>.  For more on annotations, see Library Study Guide #14.  For advice about writing go to <>.  You might use the Writing Center

4A.  Essay #1 on Heresy, Schism, Confessionalization, Denominalism, Sectarianism, Fragmentation, etc.:

You are to write a 1300-1600 word (5-6 page) essay explaining one aspect of the divisions which Christianity has suffered.  Worth 15+75 points of your final grade.

1.  Select "church," heresy, schism, denomination or sect from the history of Christianity.  A small selection of possible choices is available at <>.  Turn in your choice, in proper presentation format, on The instructors may require you to choose a different subject. 

2.  Carefully research these the origins and process of this particular subject's separation from/fight with the rest of Christianity.  In addition to the class textbooks, you must use a minimum of five primary and five secondary sources. 

3. Prepare an annotated bibliography.  An introductory paragraph should state the topic of your investigation; then list each source and explain how you expect each source will be useful to your argument.  The instructors will return the bibliography to you promptly with suggestions for how to use your sources or what additional sources to look for.  15 points.  This bibliography is due on Tuesday, February 2. 

3.  Write a careful essay which explains how and why that "church" separated from or began anew from other Christians.  Issues to be referenced should include key dates, personalities, political pressures, theological disputes, hierarchical arrangements, social constraints, and ethnic or national differences. 

5.  Rest, review, and revise repeatedly. Include a revised bibliography (without annotations) as the last page.  75 points.  Then write a final draft to be turned the instructors, due on Tuesday February 16. 

4B.  Woman in Christian History

You are to write a 1300-1600 word (5-6 page) Biography of a female figure in Christian history.  Worth 15+75 points of your final grade.

1. Select a female figure from the history of Christianity. You can find good possible choices discussed in Her Story. Turn in your choice, in proper presentation format, on March 2. The instructors may advise you to choose a different subject.

2. Carefully research the figure, with attention to a major theme or conflict that characterized her life and work. Think about how she followed or broke from significant theological or cultural trends in her historical context. In addition to the class textbooks, you must use a minimum of three primary and three secondary sources.

3. Prepare an annotated bibliography. An introductory paragraph should state the topic of your investigation; then list each source and explain how you expect each source will be useful to your argument. The instructors will return the bibliography to you promptly with suggestions for how to use your sources or what additional sources to look for. 15 points.   This bibliography is due on Tuesday, March 16.

4. Write a careful essay which explains how and why a particular theme or conflict characterizes this figure’s life and work. Issues to be referenced should include key dates, people she interacted with, political pressures, theological disputes, hierarchical arrangements, and social constraints.

5. Rest, review, and revise repeatedly. Include a revised bibliography (without annotations) as the last page. 75 points.  Then write a final draft to be turned the instructors, due on Tuesday April 6.

4C.  Essay #3 Christology Analysis:

You are to write a 1300-1600 word (5-6 page) essay analyzing how images of Jesus of Nazareth reflect their historical context.  Worth 15+75 points of your final grade.

1.  Select two of the major images of Jesus which Jaroslav Pelikan discusses in Jesus through the Centuries

2.  Carefully research these images and their historical context.  Refer to Pelican's book and understand his argument and evidence.  Find and use at least three different primary and at least three different secondary sources (not including Pelikan). 

3. Prepare an annotated bibliography.  An introductory paragraph should state the topic of your investigation; then list each source and explain how you expect each source will be useful to your argument.  The instructors will return the bibliography to you promptly with suggestions for how to use your sources or what additional sources to look for.  15 points.  This bibliography is due on Tuesday, April 13. 

4.  Write a careful essay which compares and contrasts how people in history (in a single region/a single historical era?) have constructed and made use of these images. Your paper should make an argument about the significance of the continuities and changes between the two images you address.  Joan M. Nuth's article, "Anselm of Canterbury and Julian of Norwich" provides a good model for how to construct a comparison/contrast essay and how to draw a significant thesis from such an analysis.

5.  Rest, review, and revise repeatedly.  Include a revised bibliography (without annotations) as the last page.  75 points.  Then write a final draft to be turned the instructors, due on Tuesday April 27. 

III.  Class Schedule:

Tue, Jan 19:  Introduction to the Study of Church History: How do we know anything about the past? An introduction to the course, the historical method, the methods, and sources.

Thur, Jan 21:   The Good News, ca. 4 B.C.-ca. A.D. 120: What do we know of the first Christians?
Using the New Testament and other contemporary sources, we examine the life of Jesus and his followers who spread His message.
ReadingsHandout:  Acts of the Apostles, Ch. 1-2;  C1.A.4. the Teachings (Didache); C1.E.1. St. Agnatius of Antioch, Letter to Ephesians

Tue, Jan 26:  Revelation, tradition, and reason (A.D. 30-200)
ReadingsACoW: 49-56 Gospel of Thomas, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian; Handout:  Irenaeus, Origen

Thur, Jan 28: Culture War, ca. 4 B.C.-ca. A.D. 400: What makes Christians different?
Starting as a tiny minority, confronted by powerful belief systems of Judaism and paganism, Christians nonetheless managed to convert the Roman Empire.
ReadingsACoW: Ch1.A.1 Letter of Emperor Tiberius; Ch1.A.5 Justin Martyr, Apologia; Ch1.C.1. Anon. Martyrdoms of Perpetua and Felicitas; HerS: ch.1, Readings 1.1 Christian Widows, 1.3 Tertullian

Tue, Feb 2:  The Arian controversy (300-350)
ReadingsACoW: 87-91 Arius, Alexander, Council of Nicaea, Athanasius; Printout:  Athanasius, On the Incarnation, sections 1-10, 18 (available at <>)
Annotated Bibliography for Essay #1 due

Thur, Feb 4:  Empire, A.D. 313-1453: What is the relationship of Church to State?
With Constantine's legalization of Christianity, the Church became bound to political empires; from Rome and its continuation in Byzantium in the East, through the Carolingians, the Holy Roman Empire, and kingdoms of Christendom in the West.
ReadingsACoW: C1.E.2 Ireneus, Against heresies; Pelikan Intro-ch.6

Tue, Feb 9:  Theology and politics (410-420)
ReadingsPrintout:  Augustine, City of God IV.3-4, 25, 28; XIV.1, 16, 24-25, 27-28; XIX.5, 17, 24-25, 26-27 (available at <>)

Thur, Feb 11: Recovery, ca. A.D. 500-1000: How does Christianity survive?
With the fall of Rome in the West and Byzantium besieged in the East by Islam, Christianity seemed to have few chances for survival.  Instead, it secured its position, laying foundations for new civilizations. 
ReadingsACoW: Ch2.A.1. Athanasius, Life of Antony; Ch2.A.3 Benedict of Nursia, Rule

Tue, Feb 16:  Pluralism and conversion (200-800)
ReadingsHandout:  Robert L. Wilken, Religious Pluralism and Early Christian Theology;  ACoW: 108-116 Willibald, Daniel of Winchester, Boniface
Essay #1 due

Thur, Feb 18: Pilgrimage, ca. A.D. 500-1500: Who represents the kingdom of heaven?
In Christendom and elsewhere individuals (many of whom became saints), institutions (many still with us today), and ideas (many attacked then, but revived now) offered various models on how to be faithful to God.  These include, saints, monastic orders, universities, and heretics. 
ReadingsACoW: Ch3.A.1 Investiture Crisis; Ch3.C.1 Abelard, History of My Calamities; Ch3.E.1 Documents on St. Francis of Assisi

Tue, Feb 23: Monastic theology: faith seeking understanding (1070-1080)
ReadingsHandout:  Anselm of Canterbury, Why God Became Human (excerpts); Printout:  Proslogion (available at <>); Pelikan ch. 7-11

Thur, Feb 25: Crusade, ca. 1000-1800:  How do we fight for God in this world?  Combining ideas of pilgrimage and warfare and drawing on the increased resources of feudal Europe, Christendom launched a counter-attack against its perceived enemies.  These included Moslems, pagans, heretics, and witches. 
ReadingsACoW: Ch3.B.1 Fulcher, First Crusade; Ch4.C.1. Bernard Gui, Manual of the Inquisitor; Ch6.B.1-3 Witch-Hunt; HerS: ch.2, Readings 2.2 Malleus

Tue, Mar 2:  Scholasticism (1250-1275)
ReadingsPrintout:  Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I.1.1, I.1.2, I.1.5, I.1.9, I.12.1, I.12.12, I.12.13 (available at <>)

Thur, Mar 41st EXAM, 100 points


Tue, Mar 16: Mysticism and medieval society (1070-1416)
ReadingsPrintout:  Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, long text, 50-52 (available at <>); Handout:  Joan M. Nuth, Two Medieval Soteriologies: Anselm of Canterbury and Julian of Norwich, Theological Studies 53 (1992): 611-45 [excerpt]
Annotated Bibliography for Essay #1 due

Thur, Mar 18: Reformation I, 1309-1648: How does the Church reform itself?
As the Late Medieval Church in the West failed to implement sufficient reform, the efforts of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the Anabaptists shattered Western Christendom.
ReadingsACoW: Ch5.B.2 Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion; Ch5.C.1 Letter from Conrad Grebel to Thomas Muentzer; Ch.5.C.3 Letter from Dutch Anabaptist Martyr

Tue, Mar 23: The Lutheran Reformation (1517-1522)
ReadingsACoW: 240-49 Luther;  Luther, "Address to the German Nobility" (excerpts available at <>)

Thur, Mar 25: Reformation II, 1528-1789: How does the Church reform itself?
The dynastic needs of the King of England initiated an unusual reformation in that kingdom; and Roman Catholicism redefined itself in opposition to Protestantism, which continued to diversify.
Readings:  Ch5.B.3 Theresa of Avila, Life;  Ch.5.E.1. Two letters on the St. Bartholomew's Massacre; Ch6.A.3. George Fox, Journal;  Ch.6.C.2 Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary

Tue, Mar 30:  Women in the Reformation (1517-1560)
ReadingsHerS: 89-123


Tue, Apr 6: Christianity and the new economy (1847)
ReadingsACoW: 393-95 Marx;  Handout:  Kierkegaard, "Love Does Not Seek Its Own"
Essay #2 due

Thur, Apr 8: Modernism I, 1500-1815: How does Christianity deal with reason and science?
With the Enlightenment another powerful belief system came to rival Christianity, and, eventually, provided some Christians tools to reexamine their own foundations and history; from Deism, through agnosticism, to atheism
ReadingsACoW: Ch8.B.1. Saint-Simon, New Christianity; Ch8.B.3 Leo XIII, De Rerum Novarum; Ch8.C.1 Baur, "Paul...;" HerS:  ch. 4-5, Readings 4.2 Hutchinson, 4.4 Fell, 5.1 Burnap, 5.3 Grimke; Pelikan ch. 12-15

Tue, Apr 13: Catholicism and modernity (1850-1900)
ReadingsACoW: 409-17 Newman, Hopkins, Therese of Lisieux;  HerS: ch. 6-7
Annotated bibliography for Essay #3 due.

Thur, Apr 15: Modernism II, 1829-present: How does Christianity deal with reason and science?
The continuing expansion of scientific knowledge threatened certain interpretations of the Bible and Christian views, leading to fundamentalism, liberalism, and post-modernism
ReadingsACoW: Ch9.A.2 Scopes Trial Transcripts; Ch9.A.3. Falwell, Listen America!;  Ch.9.C.1.b. Matthews, "Will Christ Come Again?;" Ch.9.C.1.b. Torrey, "'Will Christ Come Again?'...;"

Tue, Apr 20: The gospel against nationalism (1914-1945)
ReadingsACoW: 467-478 German Christians, Barmen Declaration, Jaegerstaetter, Bonhoeffer; Handout:  Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (excerpts)

Thur, Apr 22: Ecumenism, 1914-present: What is the true Church?
As Christianity became a diverse world-wide phenomenon and in the wake of the Great War, some Christians began to approach cooperation and the healing of schisms, from the World Council of Churches, through Vatican II, to "The Gift of Authority."
ReadingsACoW: Ch9.E.2 Second  Vatican Council, "Constitution of the Church;"  Ch9.E.2 Harriss, "Which Master is the World Council of Churches....;" Ch10.D.2. Borland, "A Theologian looks...;"  HerS: ch. 8, Reading 8.2 Investigating Status, 8.4 Daly; Pelikan ch. 16-18

Tue, Apr 27: The struggle for social justice (1950-1990)
ReadingsACoW: 496-507 Day, King, Boff and Boff.  Handout: Charles Marsh, "The Civil Rights Movement as Theological Drama," Modern Theology 18 (2002): 231-50; HerS: ch.9
Essay #3 due.

Thur, Apr 29: Sexuality, 1930-present: How does sex matter to God?  With the rise of Women's rights and the Sexual Revolution in the later 20th Century, Christians began to reevaluate accepted Biblical interpretations and practices about sex; from abortion and contraception, through women's ordination, to the cultural war over homosexuality.
ReadingsACoW: Ch 10.B.1 Rosemary Radfor Ruether, "Sexism...;" Ch10.C.1. Wildung Harrison, "Theology of Pro-Choice;"  HerS: Reading 9.1 Admission of Women, 9.4 Letty Russel

Tue, May 4:  Review:  A chance to reflect on the course, report on other significant conflicts in the past, and discuss what challenges face the Christian Church now and in the future. 

Final Exam:  tba, 125 points

IV.  Links:

Bible Study Resources History of Western Civilization Resources and Sources
Anglican Resources History of Christianity Resources
Significant People in the History of Christianity History of Churches/Denominations/Sects/Ecclesiastical Polities Rooted in Christianity

Although this syllabus presents the basic content of this course, the professor may change anything (e.g. requirement, topics, assignments, due dates, grading policy, etc.) at his discretion.



Site built, maintained & Copyright MMX by Brian A. Pavlac
Last Revision: 2010 January 18