Torture and Sacrifice: the literature of early Christianity - CLAS6850

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2020 to 2021.


The module will introduce students to the literature of early Christianity. A variety of texts will be read – the gospels, apocryphal gospels, early martyrdom texts, edifying tales and hagiography – to show the variety of genres that existed and the intertextual fluidity of these genres. The texts will be contextualised against the historical developments of the Roman Empire. Social and cultural issues will also be raised, such as the new roles of women and men in an emerging Christian world and the concepts of pain, sacrifice, authority, virginity and asceticism will be examined.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 30


Also available under code CL686 (Level 6)

Method of assessment

• Creative Assignment (2,000 words) – 40%
• Essay (3,000 words) – 60%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List -
Cameron, A. (2010). The Last Pagans of Rome (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Cloke, G. (1995). This Female Man of God: Women and Spiritual Power in the Patristic Age, AD 350-450 (New York: Routledge).
Elm, S. (1994). Virgins of God: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity (Oxford: Clarendon Press)
Harmless, W. (2004). Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature ofEearly Monasticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module Level 5 students will be able to:
- Outline and understand the key principles of selected authors, artists and topics pertaining to early Christianity within the framework of the late-Roman empire and how these principles developed in antiquity;
- Apply the methods of textual, visual and material analysis, and the conceptual frameworks that result, to related topics outside the culture and literature of Graeco-Roman antiquity;
- Critically evaluate and understand current methods of interpretation within classical studies and in related fields;
- Utilise and critically analyse primary sources and current research relating to early Christianity.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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