Religion 302W: History of Christianity

Samford University, Department of Religion, Spring 2005


Mon., Wed., Fri.  10:30am to 11:35am, 318 Chapman Hall

course website:


David R. Bains, Assistant Professor
  325 Chapman Hall, phone: 726-2879, email:
Office Hours:  Mon & Wed 1-3pm.  I'll be happy to make an appointment for a different time, just let me know.


Course Description & Objectives:

Surveys the course of the history of Christianity and acquaints students with the intellectual, institutional, and cultural heritage of the Christian church.  This course examines the diversity of Christian experiences through the twenty-one centuries of the Christian era.


Students will be able to:

  • Identify major figures, events, groups, and concepts, explaining their historical context and their significance for the development of Christianity.
  • Analyze primary sources (both texts and objects) to uncover significant ideas and practices.
  • Compare differing interpretations of Christian history.
  • Discuss the ways Christianity has varied according to historical and cultural context and theological conviction.
  • Discuss the interplay of culture, practice, organization, belief, and experience in the history of Christianity.


Required Texts:

Books available at the Samford University Bookstore:

Dowley, Tim, ed. Introduction to the History of Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.

Janz, Denis R., ed. A Reformation Reader: Primary Texts with Introductions. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999.

Jenkins, Philip. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Jolly, Karen Louise, ed. Tradition & Diversity: Christianity in a World Context to 1500.  Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1997.

A copy of the Bible.

Access to course WebCT site


Requirements:  subject to adjustment

Mid-term exam (take home essay(s)) (20%)


Final exam (in-class) (30%)  While weighted toward later material.  This will be cumulative including major persons, events, concepts from throughout the term.  A study guide will be provided.  The final will be at time and place announced by the university.


Essay (20%)    An essay (8-10 pages) on a major theme that we have discussed throughout the course (e.g., sanctity, church and state, cultural adaptation of Christianity, justification) it can be focused more narrowly on late-medieval and early modern material (Reformation).  You must write on one of the themes suggested.  This essay will primarily be based on assigned reading for the course with a few other suggested articles.

Alternative:  While I recommend the main option since it focuses on the reading you are doing throughout the term, students may choose to write a research paper on a topic of interest that is related to assigned course readings.

Details on this assignment will be provided by March 18.  Proposals of students wishing to write research papers are due by April 4.  Essay will be due by April 29.


Participation (30%)  This includes class participation (explained in detail below) and other occassional quizzes, essays, and other assignments on the readings discussed in class that day.

Class procedure:  As a rule classes will begin with a discussion of the reading (focusing on the primary sources).  There are three study questions before each of the readings in Jolly.  There is also one question for each of the readings in Janz in the Study Guide available on the CD-ROM that comes with the book.  These questions will help you read each of the individual documents.  Since we will generally be discussing 2-4 documents each day, I will provide one or more questions to help you synthesize the readings.  These last questions will be our departure point for our class discussions.
The questions for the day are listed on the syllabus.  Other questions will be provided in-class or on the WebCT site.

I strongly suggest keeping a notebook in which you record your observations and questions about each of the documents we read.  You should also jot down answers for the study questions.  Leave room in the section for each document to record additional notes from our class discussions.

You should come to class each day (a) having done the assigned reading, (b) prepared to discuss the assigned questions and the readings in general, and (c) with your own questions about the readings (including things you didn't understand and things you think are interesting and want to discuss).  On some days you may have particular assignments (e.g., short written essays, a position to prepare to debate, or an in-class writing assignment).

Your classroom participation will be assessed on the following scale:

Unattentiveness in class = 0, Good attendance and attentiveness = C, Strong attendance and active participation in class discussions (showing interest in topic or issues and familiarity with assigned materials) = B; Strong attendance, active participation in class discussions (showing interest in topic or issues and familiarity with assigned materials), and demonstrable leadership (somehow making a positive difference in the class dynamic) = A.

Class participation grades will be posted approximately every two weeks to the gradebook on WebCT.  Poor attendance and frequent tardiness will hurt your grade.


Academic Integrity:

"Students upon enrollment, enter into voluntary association with Samford University.  They must be willing to observe high standards of intellectual integrity; they must respect knowledge and practice academic honesty.  Those who cheat on an examination or class assignment are not only academically dishonest, but also completely deficient in the scholarly maturity necessary to college study.  Those detected in dishonesty are subject to severe punishment.  The more dependence on cheating, the more inevitable becomes ultimate failure, often accompanied by public disgrace.  Any act to obtain an unfair academic advantage is considered dishonest." Samford University Catalog 2003-2004, p. 36.


Attendance and Grading:

Roll will be taken each day.  In a MWF class a student may miss six classes without penalty.  After the seventh absence your final grade will be reduced one letter grade.  After the ninth absence the student will receive an FA for the course.  Three tardies count as one absence.  If you come in after your name is called, you will need to notify your professor at the end of the class period, or else the tardy will become an absence.  The Department of Religion grading scale is:

A= 100%-95%, A- = 94%-92%

B+ = 91%-88%, B = 87% - 85%, B- = 84%-82%

C+ = 81% - 78%, C = 77%-74%, C- = 73% - 70%

D+ = 69% - 66%, D = 65% - 63%, D- = 62% -60%

F = below 59%


All students with disabilities seeking reasonable accommodation must register with Disability Support Services #726-4078 or #726-2105.  Thereafter, you are invited to schedule appointments with the instructor to discuss reasonable accommodation requests verified by Disability Support Services.


Attendance requires your active attention.  Cell phones should not ring, if your cell phone rings or vibrates your final grade will be reduced by 1 point.


Inclusive Language

"Language—how it is used and what it implies—plays a crucial role in Samford University’s mission to "nurture persons." Because verbal constructions create realities, inclusive language can uphold or affirm those whom we seek to nurture, while exclusive language can damage or defeat them. We therefore actively seek a discourse in our university community that supports the equal dignity and participation of men and women; we seek to avoid verbal constructions that diminish the equal dignity of all persons. It is an affirmative—and affirming—part of our mission to educate students, staff and faculty in the creation of a community of equality and respect through language." Samford University Catalog 2004-2005, p. 2.

All papers should be typed and double spaced.


Occasionally, the readings and assignments may have to changed.  I will announce these changes in class.  If you miss class, check with another student before the next class to see if there were any changes.


Readings and assignments should be completed prior to the beginning of class on the day listed.  Readings are often listed individually, that way we know what they are without having to look everything up in the book.  We will probably discuss all readings in class, but be sure to have the primary source readings with you.


1.     January 26
Guest lecture by Jason Springs
Distribution of syllabi and first assignment.

Early Christianity

2.     January 28:  History, Reform, and Orthodoxy
*Paul's Letter to the Galatians (any Bible, preferably NRSV)
*Acts of the Apostles 10:1-15:35
Gasque, "The Church Expands: Jerusalem to Rome," in Dowley, 57-68.
David Bebbington, "What is History" in Patterns in History, 1-20. (handout)
look over chart "The Christian Centuries," Dowley, 12-13.
Key terms:  orthodoxy, catholic, heresy, Peter, Paul, history, apostle
Questions: Paul's letter to the Galatians reveals the clash between different movements in early Christianity, two rival orthodoxies.  The Galatians were first evangelized by Paul.  Later they were visited by other evangelists who sought to reform their Christian practice.  Thus, in his letter Paul is engaged in the task of counter-reformation.
1.) How do Paul and his opponents support their positions?  (What authorities do they appeal to?  How do they seek to impugn the authority upon which their opponent's case is based?)
2.) What challenges do Christians encounter as they minister among the Gentiles?  How does this appear to change it from its Jewish origins?
3.) Based on these early sources what appear to be emerging as the major beliefs and practices of Christianity?
4.) Given what Bebbington says about the role of argument in history, what argument does Luke appear to be making?  What argument does Gasque make?  What other arguments about the events and times they describe do you think you could make?
The entire Acts of the Apostles
Hemer, "Archeological light on earliest Christianity," in Dowley, 69-77
Briggs, "Weighing up the evidence," in Dowley, 34-36.

3.     January 31: Early Practice and Piety
First Apology of Justin Martyr, chapters 65-67 (handout) (Read Dowley, 94 for an introduction to this document)
Jolly, "Introduction," 3-9, 13-14, 22-26 (Apostolic Tradition), 28-34 (Dionysius the Wise)
Dowley, [sections on worship] [29-33,] 123-129, 152-161
Dowley, [apologists], 78-81

4.     February 2, [Candelmas/Presentation of the Lord]: Christianity and Rome
Jolly, 34-51 (Tertullian and Clement, Eusebius on Constantine and Helen, Symmachus and Ambrose)
Dowley, 82-95, "Church of the Holy Sepulcher,"
Franciscan Cyberspot, Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre
Franciscan Cyberspot, Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre,
"The Byzantine monument at the Garden of Golgotha (335 AD)"
Franciscan Cyberspot, Bethlehem, "From Jesus to Emperor Justinian"

5.     February 4: Heterodoxy and Orthodoxy I
Jolly, 52-63 [Gnostics and Origen]
Dowley, 96-122, 139-146, 148-151  [Gnostics and ante-Nicene theology, Constantine]

6.     Feburary 7: Christological and Trinitarian Controversies
Jolly, 63-72
Dowley, 164-186 [This is a very detailed (and very good!) history.  Be sure to focus on 164-169 and 179-186]

7.     Feb. 9, Ash Wednesday: Life and Death
Jolly, 73-98
Life of St. Antony 1-14.  The complete text is  online: These three popular, widely read lives of saints reflect early Christian understandings of the holy life and death.  Based on these, describe the kind of life that a Christian should live?  What affect do you think these stories had on their early audiences?  What similarities do you see between martyrdom and monasticism?

8.     Feb. 11: Foundations of Medieval Thought
Jolly, 99-100, 105-106, 113-128
Dowley, 187-211
Recommended: Jolly, 101-106, 107-112 [Jerome on Bible and Augustine, Confessions]

9.     Feb. 14 [Sts Cyrl and Methodius]: Monasticism and Saints
Jolly, 129-154
Dowley, 212-224, 230, 307-309

10.  Feb. 16: Eastern Christianity
Dowley, 247-259, 316-319
Jolly, 215-218, 154-159, 505-509
Recommended:  Attend a Sunday service at an Eastern Orthodox or Eastern-rite Catholic Church.  Birmingham has lots to choose from:
St. George the Great Martyr (Melkite) 425-Sixteenth Ave. S. ,Birmingham, AL 35205, (205) 252-5788
Holy Trinity / Holy Cross (Greek Orthodox) 307 19th St. S., Birmingham, AL 35233 (205-716-3080)
St. Nicholas (Russian Orthodox) Brookside, AL
(206) 674-1325
(Antiochene Orthodox) worships in Chapel of Mountain Chapel United Methodist Church, Rock Ridge Rd. (get info)
St. Symeon (Orthodox Church in America)  3101 Clairmont Ave, Birmingham, AL 35205

11.  Feb. 18: Christianity beyond the Mediterranean
Jolly, (7.4 Nestorians in China) 178-183, 184-185. (8.2-8.4) 188-212, 283-288
Dowley, 202, 217-219, 228-238
The texts here relate to the spread of Christianity beyond the Mediterranean to China, to the Franks in Gaul, to the Anglo-Saxons in England, to the Saxons in modern-day Germany and Belgium, and to the Vikings again in England.
Key questions:  What strategies do Christian missionaries use to covert the pagans?  Why do the pagans convert?  What is the role of women?  How is Christianity changing?  How is it remaining the same?
Note on the Nestorian Stele from China:  Students who have had "World Religions" or otherwise know something about South Asian and East Asia religions should recognize much familiar language in this text (emptiness, sutras, non-assertion, Teaching (or dharma), "heat of their distress" desire (kama).  How does this text use these concepts to express Christian theology?  Would a European Christian recognize this as Christian?
Note the "twenty-four Sages" refers to the Old Testament, Jews traditional count the TaNaK as containing 24 books (I & II Kings, I & II Samuel, I & II Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah) are each counted as one.  The twelve "minor prophets" are also counted as one book.

Medieval Christianity

12.  Feb. 21: Popular Medieval Spirituality
Jolly, 255-282, 288-292
Dowley, 238-245
Recommended: Jolly, 238, 243-248 (John Scottus Eriugena)

13.  Feb. 23 [Polycarp of Symrna]: Kingship and  Investiture Controversy
Jolly, 218-237, 303-317
Dowley, 309-314 (Reforms of Cluny and Citeaux), 260-267

14.  Feb. 25: Crusades
Jolly, 333-349
Dowley, 275-281

15.  Feb. 28: Bernard and Hildegard
Jolly, 369-383
Dowley, 267-269

16.  March 2: no class

17.  March 4: no class

18.  March 7: [Perpetua and Felicity]:  The Material Culture of Medieval Christianity
Dowley, 293-298
Jolly, 510-515 (Seven Sacraments)
Mapping Margery Kemp
Windows in the Trinity chapel, Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Buildings.  Very good for exterior of Cathedral
Medieval Images.  Excellent collection

19.  March 9: Reform and Orthodoxy
Jolly, 321-332 (Beguin)
Jolly, 395-400 (Francis and Clare)
Jolly, 412-424 (Waldensians, Albigensians, and Spiritual Franciscans)
Dowley, 268-276, 320-329
Rule of St. Francis (the Third Rule)

20.  March 11:: High Medieval Theology and Practice
Jolly, 387-395 (Innocent III and Fourth Lateran)
Jolly, 350-354 (Anselm)
Jolly, 357-362 (Averröes)
Jolly, 400-404 (Bonaventure)
Jolly, 405-411 (Thomas Aquinas)
Dowley, 282-293
Recommended: Abelard and Maimonidies (355-357, 363-368)

21.  March 14: Spirituality: Mystical and Popular
Jolly, 491-505
Jolly 515-526 (Last Judgment from Chester Cycle)

22.  March 16: Dissent and Reform in Late Medieval & Renaissance Christianity
Janz, # 2 (p. 13-14) (Bontiface VIII,, Unam Sanctum)
Jolly, 475-490
Janz, #13 (pp. 57-68). (Erasmus)
Dowley, 330-350

23.  March 18:  Late Medieval Debates on Justification
Janz, # 7-8 (pp. 38-50) (Brandwardine and Biel on Justification)

Spring Break / Holy Week (Gregorian/Western Calendar)

Reformations of the Sixteenth Century

24.  March 30:  Luther's Autobiography and Controversy over Indulgences
Janz, #14-16 (pp. 69-78) Luther on Luther
Janz, # 9-11 (pp. 52-54) Documents on Indulgences
Janz, #19 (pp. 81-86) Luther, Ninety-five Theses
Dowley, 352-369

25.  April 1:  Luther's first treatises
Meditation on Christ's Passion in Janz, 86-90
To the Christian Nobility in Janz, 90-98
The Freedom of a Christian in Janz, 98-106
Recommended: Janz, #75-76
Dowley, 370-378

26.  April 4  Building Lutheranism
Prefaces to the NT and OT in Janz, 106-111
Small Catechism, in Janz, 110-121
Smalclad Articles, in Janz, 122-138
Augsburg Confession and Apology of the Augsburg Confession on justification, in Janz, 138-144
Formula of Concord 145-149
Dowley, 395-400

27.  April 6  Roman Catholic Response
Janz #77-79 (332-347) Cajetan, On Faith and Works in Janz, 333-346
Dowley, 410-414
Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification
This document was adopted by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church on October 31, 1999, the 450th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses.  Please print this out and read it.  Our discussion will focus on the sections beginning at paragraph 19.
Questions:  What is faith for Cajetan?  What is faith for Lutherans (see especially #27-28 in Janz)?  Under what conditions do human actions "merit" divine rewards according to Cajetan?  Why do Lutherans reject this argument?  What role does Christ play in redemption according to Cajetan?  What is the role of "charity" in Cajetan's theology?
How does the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification reconcile the two positions?

28.  April 8  Zwingli, Bucer, and the Reformed tradition
selections from Zwingli in Janz, 152-162
Twelve Articles of the Peasants, 165-167
Dowley, 378-386
Recommended:  Erasmus, In Praise of Folly, 57-69
Questions:  How does Zwingli's conception of the "Gospel" or "Word of God" compare to Luther's?
How does Zwingli's sacramental theology differ from Luther's?  What ideas, views of the world, are responsible for this difference?
What similarities are their between the Twelve Articles of the Peasants and Luther's theology, particularly "To the German Nobility"?  What would (or did) Luther think of their demands?

29.  April 11  Anabaptists: Radical Protest
Hubmaier,  Catechism, 172-176
Schleitheim Confession, only section VI is required, pp. 178-179. the entire document pp. 176-180 is recommended
Trial and Martyrdom of Michael Sattler in Janz, 180-183
Hans Derick, Concerning True Love in Janz, 183-190
Dowley, 401-409
Questions:  Compare the Anabaptists to the Lutherans and Zwingli on Baptism, Eucharist, and Scripture.
Compare their understandings of the life of Christians and its relationship to the state to Lutherans.

30.  April 13  Views of Christian Community: Anabaptist and Calvinist
Hubmaier on Heretics, 170-172
Walpot in Janz, 194-201
Calvin, Geneva Ordinances, 214-218
Calvin, Institutes, 280-282 (4.20.1-3), 273 (4.2.4)
documents on Servetus Affair in Janz, 222-226

31.  April 15  Reformed Theology—Calvin's Institutes
Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, selections from Janz, 226-244, 253-268, 278-282
Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.10-12 [on the presence of Christ in the supper] (ON WEB-CT)
Calvin, , Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.7.6-14 (pp. 354-363 in Battles edition) Available online (scroll down to paragraph 6).
Rest of the selections from the Institutes in Janz.  Book 4, Chapters 16 and 17 in entirety (Baptism and Lord's Supper)

32.  April 22  Reformation in England
Nota Bene:  In sixteenth-century English the semicolon (;) is the most important punctuation mark.  Watch for it!  Read  it as a period!  Otherwise your eyes may glaze over as you make you way through the 250-word sentences.
Cranmer, A Sermon on the Salvation of Mankind, 303-309
Thirty-Nine Articles, 317-324
Cranmer, Preface to the Great Bible, 294-302
Act of Supremacy, 285
Act of Uniformity, 313-314
Dowley, 386-394
Questions:  What does Cranmer mean by a "true and lively faith"?  How does his position on Justification compare to Cajetan's and the Lutherans?  How does the sacramental doctrine expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles compare to Luther's? to Calvin's?  How does the vision of Scripture and Tradition compare to the other reformers?

33.  April 25 Counter Reformation & Catholic Humanism
Janz, 349-361, 363-368 [Decrees of Council of Trent]
Dowley, 414-434

April 22: Earth Day

Global Christianity in the Modern World

34.  April 27 Global Mission and the New World
Janz, 377-379
Jenkins, The Next Christendom, 1-38
Dowley 466-482

35.  April 29 Foundations of Modernity: Enlightenment / Nation-States / Colonialism
RHCT2, pp. 87-90 (Tindal). 101-106 (Lessing, and Kant) (to be supplied)
Dowley, 485-499

36.  May 2: Foundations of Modernity: Confessionalism /Pietism / Evangelicalism / Voluntaryism
RHCT2, pp. 91-96, 101-106 (Spener, Wesley, and Edwards) (to be supplied)
Dowley, 444-461

37.  May 4: Reformation in the Secular World: Ecumenism and Vatican II
Documents of Vatican II, edited David R. Bains
Dulles, Avery. "Vatican II: The Myth and the Reality." America, 24 Feb. 2003, 7-11.
O'Malley, John W. "The Style of Vatican II." America, 24 Feb. 2003, 12-15.
Long, John F. et al. "Further Reflections on Vatican II." Letters to the editor.  America, 17 March 2003, 14-15, 29-30.
O'Malley, John W. "Vatican II: Official Norms." America, 31 March 2003, 11-15.
Dulles, Avery. "Vatican II: Substantive Teaching." America, 31 March 2003, 14-17.
Dowley, 508-510

38.  May 6: World Christianity
Jenkins, 39-105 (skim chapter 5)
Dowley, 548-580

39.  May 9
Jenkins, 105-162
Dowley, 646-653

40.  May 11
Jenkins, 163-220

Final Exam:  Friday, May 13, 10:30 AM