The student will:
1. Discover and describe the complex evolution of Christianity as it
interacts with Judaism, Islam and other historic ideas and forces.
2. Identify seminal thinkers and events and discuss the unique
characteristics of their thought over and against the historic
circumstances and literary understandings of their own time.
3. Discern and discuss the evolution to persistent religious themes
and controversies as the recur throughout western history, e.g.,
orthodoxy and heresy, messianism, the rival hermeneutics of
Christianity, Judaism and Islam; concern for the relationship between
Faith and Reason.
4. Discover and articulate the historic and religious sources of
contemporary values and belief systems.
5. Recognize the commonality and the wide diversity and debate that
exists within and among western religious traditions.
This is an historical survey course which covers most (but never all)
of the following selected readings from the sources and personalities
1. The emergence of rabbinic Judaism and the rise of Christianity:
their interdependence and interaction.
2. Rabbinic Judaism following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the
Mishnah and the Talmud and the rabbinic hermeneutic of Hebrew
3. Christology as the rival hermeneutic of the nascent Christian church.
Christian anti-Judaism and the development of the Adversus Judeos.
4. The dialectic of Gnosticism and developing Christian Orthodoxy:
Hellenistic dualisms and the perplexities of Christian belief.
5. Orthodox apologists: in defense of the Trinity: Justin Martyr,
Tertullian, Origen, Ireneas.
6. The Romanization of Christianity: the transformation of the church
into the state religion: Eusebius, the Creeds; the personal struggle
7. Augustine of Hippo: Personal writings - The Confessions; On Marriage
and Concupiscence; the political writings - The City of God.
8. Church and State: the rise of the Papacy and the spread of the
Western Church; the Donation of Constantine through the Coronation
9. Pope and Emperor in the middle ages: the development of the Imperial
Church, Gregory VII and Henry IV; Dante's De Monarchia; the roots
of the Crusades and the Inquistion.
10. Heresy: unacceptable popular dissent; Arnold of Brescia, the
Albigensians, Dominic and the Crusades. Acceptable ascetic respone:
Francis of Assisi.
11. Mohammed and the rise of Islam and its relationship to Judaism and
Christianity. The Koran, the University and the transmission of
classical texts. The success of Islam.
12. Jews in the Middle Ages: Spain and Portugal: The Golden Age, the
Christian Conquest. The Crusades, the Expulsions and Inquisitions.
Medieval anti-Jewish legislation. Jewish survival and mysticism.
Devleopments in Jewish history: the East European settlement; the
birth of Hasidism; the Enlightenment; the birth of Zionism, the
13. Paths through the Renaissance: Anselm, Maimonides, Aquinas, Erasmus:
the debates over Faith and Reason; the rebirth of Reason in Europe:
concepts on Natural Law.
14. The Protestant Reformation: Luther, Calvin and the Anabaptists.
15. Science and the Enlightment: Galileo, Newton and witchcraft, Voltaire
and Jefferson. The French Revolution.
16. 19th century challenge: Darwin, Hegel, Marx and Freud.
17. 20th century responses. Neo-orthodoxy, fundamentalism: the "new"
theologies: Liberation; Creation.., etc.
Syllabus reader for Humanities 10.3 by S. Lowe.
THE GNOSTIC GOSPEL by E. Pagels, 1st ed., Vintage Books, 1989.