This unit will critically examine the historical development of concepts and practices related to Spirituality. Starting with its roots in Hebrew and Early Christian terminology and philosophical thought, students will be guided through examination of the shifts in definition shaped by key figures in the Judeo-Christian traditions and the influence these shifts had on the practices within these traditions. Students will consider current applications of spirituality within and beyond faith traditions and the value of these sources for reconstructing practices of spirituality in the future.

Unit code: DS8002W

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Whitley College

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Learning outcomes


Discuss the kinds of historical evidence available for discovering how people shaped the understanding of spirituality


Employ hermeneutical methods for reading and evaluating the terminology informing spirituality across generations


Assess the role of spiritual terminology in shaping historical spiritual practices


Debate the relevance of shifts in spiritual terminology and practices for contemporary expressions in spirituality


Formulate a personal critical response to a core issue in Spirituality

Unit sequence

This unit provides a foundational examination of Spirituality and Church History for students studying in Whitley College and Wellspring Spirituality and Spiritual Direction Awards. The unit maybe taken in other postgraduate awards.


Seminars, lecturers and participation in historical practices of spirituality including Christian devotion.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Benner, David G. Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The sacred journey of transformation. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2012.
  • Dreyer, E., & M.S. Burrows. Minding the Spirit: the study of Christian spirituality. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.
  • King, U. Christian mystics: the spiritual heart of the Christian tradition. London: Batsford, 1998.
  • Mabry, John R. Growing into God: A Beginners Guide to Christian Mysticism. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2012.
  • McColman, Carl. The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publ. 2010.
  • Miles, Margaret R. Practicing Christianity: Critical Perspectives for an Embodied Spirituality. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1988
  • Pelikan, J. Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
  • Sheldrake, P. Spirituality: A Brief History. Second Edition. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2013.
  • Shults, F. Leron & Steven J. Sandage. Transforming Spirituality: Integrating Theology and Psychology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.
  • Tacey, David. The Postsecular Sacred: Jung, Soul and Meaning in an age of Change. Oxon: Routledge, 2020.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Personal Reflection - Reflective journal on readings 1500 25.0
Tutorial Paper/Seminar Paper - Seminar Paper 1500 25.0
Essay - Essay of 3000 words 3000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 21 Oct, 2022

Unit record last updated: 2022-10-21 12:42:01 +1100