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.
Total Contact Hours: 40
Total Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300
Autumn or Spring
Method of assessment
• Creative Assignment (2,000 words) – 40%
• Essay (3,000 words) – 60%
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 of Early Monasticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successfully completing the module Level 6 students will be able to:
1. Show systematic critical understanding, through clear expression, of selected authors and topics in early Christianity;
2. Demonstrate developed skills in exegesis, critical analysis, and assessment of a selection of texts from Late Antiquity and Byzantium;
3. Show systematic understanding of the interpretations of, and the relationships between, topics covered in classes;
4. Utilise and critically evaluate primary sources and current research relating to early Christianity.
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Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
- ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
- The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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