This subject explores the quest for “fullness of life” in classic Christian spiritual writings. It sets the sources in the context of the writers’ own times in order to consider images of God, and corresponding understandings of holiness and faithful living, that have informed the Christian community. Discussion is focussed around “desert”, “cloister”, and “marketplace” as distinctive but related locations for and styles of Christian spirituality, each with Australian dimensions and implications. We will use the tools of social and cultural history to examine the interconnectedness of “spirituality” and “doctrine”, and to explore the methodological challenges of holding together “love” and “knowledge” as partners in a Christian understanding of “fullness of life”.

Unit code: DS9000P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Identify key writers and prevailing themes within a broad chronology of Christian spirituality


Set those key writers and themes in the context of the international literature on the history of Christian spirituality


Draw appropriately on a range of historical sources to develop historical and theological arguments


Analyse and articulate the relationship between theological and spiritual concerns in the work of at least one writer in the Christian tradition


Analyse and articulate the relationship between theological and spiritual concerns in a sample of contemporary writing


Lectures, seminars, tutorial discussion

Indicative Bibliography

  • Cassian, John, and Boniface Ramsey. John Cassian, the Conferences. New York: Paulist Press, 1997.
  • Cassian, John, and Boniface Ramsey. John Cassian, the Institutes. New York: Newman Press, 2000.
  • Dreyer, Elizabeth and Mark Burrows. Minding the Spirit: The Study of Christian Spirituality. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.
  • Haight, Roger. Spirituality Seeking Theology. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2014.
  • Mafi-Williams, Lorraine and Kinsie McDonald. Spirituality, Sydney Aboriginal Program Unit. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1989.
  • Sheldrake, Philip. Spirituality and Theology: Christian Living and the Doctrine of God. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1998. (recommended for purchase)
  • Sheldrake, Philip. Spirituality: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. (recommended for purchase)


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Research essay (4,000 words)

4000 60.0

Historical source analysis (1000 words)

1000 20.0

Contemporary source analysis (1000 words)

1000 20.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2015

Unit record last updated: 2019-05-14 07:47:23 +1000