This unit offers an historical theological study of the first five centuries of Christianity with an emphasis on the practice and belief of the community. It examines the formal clarification of doctrine through key primary texts in the light of the wider life of the church, offering an introduction to Christian traditions of theological reflection.

Unit code: CH8000T

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: Trinity College Theological School

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Learning outcomes


Outline a chronology of key events within the Christian community c.70–500 CE and describe their original, traditional and current significance.


Apply key principles of historical interpretation to ancient Christian texts.


Identify key features of the context and method of at least two writers in the early Christian church


Interpret a range of historical sources with an array of historical tools.


Discuss the implications of particular historical understandings for the practice of ministry in the contemporary Christian church.


Lectures, discussions, tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bradshaw, P.F. The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Brown, P. The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity New York: Columbia, 1988.
  • Burrus, V., ed. Late Ancient Christianity: A People’s History of Christianity. Vol. 2 Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005.
  • Edwards, M. Catholicity and Heresy in the Early Church. Farnham, Surrey/Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009.
  • Hall, S. Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
  • Humphries, M. Early Christianity. London: Routledge, 2006. (recommended for purchase)
  • Jensen, R.M. Understanding Early Christian Art. New York: Routledge, 2000.
  • Miles, M. The Word made Flesh: A History of Christian Thought. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005 (ebook available on e-reserve).
  • Young, F. The Making of the Creeds. London: SCM Press, 1991. (recommended for purchase)


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Multiple Choice Quizzes or Tests

Quiz equivalent of 500 words

0 10.0

short paper of 1000 words

0 15.0

short paper of 1000 words

0 15.0

3500-word essay

0 60.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-03-26 09:00:19 +1100