Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Church in Early Christian Thought

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Church History, Patrology and Palaeochristian Arch

DESCRIPTION The unit is intended to offer an in-depth analysis of the various theories and deliberations related to the Church's nature and mission in the world. The time-frame to be covered is from the first till the eighth century, in both East and West.

The unit will also include an analysis of the ecclesial-themed iconography found in Christian catacombs, such as the ship, and how these are treated by authors living in the same era when these simple artworks were created.

Even though the early Christian authors rarely wrote specific treatise dedicated solely to the Church, the course aims to highlight the sporadic insights given in texts which deal with other matters, in order to bring out a somewhat linear presentation on how the theories about the Church developed through the ages.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to give students an adequate introduction to how early Christian authors sought to validate the existence of the Church.

Apart from this, the study-unit aims to encourage students to delve deeper in the foundational texts of Christianity which treat directly or indirectly this subject.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- classify the major early theologians who suggested theories regarding the Church;
- define how ecclesiology (as a scientific reflection on the Church) was formed;
- infer how the communal experience of a community of faith interpreted its transition from a minority and persecuted group to a powerful world-wide (by 8th century standards) institution.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- classify the various ideas about the Church found in different texts;
- interpret the ideologies that mirror the faith-experience of the believing community;
- compare the foundational ideas about this institution with the theories brought forward by contemporary ecclesiologists;
- evaluate the transition of the role of the Roman pontiff from that of a bishop like many others, to that of the Patriarch of the West till finally being recognized as the leader of all Christendom in the early Middle Ages.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Text

- Haight Roger, Christian Community in history. Vol. 1: Historical ecclesiology (New York: Continuum 2004).

Supplementary readings

- Phan Peter C. (ed.), The gift of the Church (Minnesota: Michael Glazier, 2000).
- Kelly J.D.N., Early Christian Doctrines (London: Bloomsbury, 2014) (5th ed).

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite Study-unit: THL1001


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Jonathan Farrugia

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.