Early Christianity has many recognised masters of the spiritual life. The unit may draw on material from: Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus the Confessor and others. Often, key practices, beliefs and conceptual structures that inform their thought and spiritual practice are deeply influenced by philosophical thinking. This unit investigates the philosophical, spiritual and psychological structures evident in the writings and practices of some key ascetic thinkers. It reflects on their thought in light of contemporary approaches to spirituality and philosophical reflection. These may include: mindfulness meditation, interreligious philosophies and philosophy of life. In doing so, the unit attempts to articulate the contribution made by early Christian thought to ascetic philosophy and practice today.

Unit Code: AP3164C

Points: 18.0

Unit Level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit Discipline: Philosophy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning Outcomes


Assess the selected primary texts carefully in relation to their purpose and historical context


Explain how the early Christian thinkers understand the relationship between philosophical, theological and spiritual approaches to ascetic thought and practice


Narrate an overview of the various philosophical structures used by early Christian thinkers, and evaluate them


Illustrate the significance of the topics studied for related areas in philosophical and theological enquiry


Set out a sustained critique of a philosophical position

Unit sequence

30 points of philosophy at second level




Type Description Wordcount Weight (%)

Option 1
5,000-word essay 100%


Option 2
3,000-word essay 60% 2-hour take-home examination (equivalent to 2000 words) 40%

0 100.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity on 1 Nov, 2017

Unit Record last updated: 2019-02-01 16:07:12 +1100