In this unit students will undertake an historical theological study of the first five centuries of Christianity with an emphasis on the developments in doctrine and liturgical practice across the Christian communities of the Middle East, North Africa, and Western Europe. Students will examine how the formal clarification of doctrine emerged out of apologetic and exegetical controversies, that pushed the Church to the limits of its language about God.

Unit code: CH1100T

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 1

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.100-500 CE and describe their significance.


Articulate key principles of historical interpretation of ancient Christian texts.


Outline key theological debates during the period.


Discuss the interactions of Church and Empire in the early Christian Church, before and after Constantine.


Describe the implications of an historical understanding of the early Church, for ministry in the contemporary Church.

Unit sequence

Prohibited combination: ‘Practice and Belief in the Early Church’


This unit is an entry-level unit in the discipline of Church History and as such, presumes no prior knowledge of either the period itself, or the methods of historical enquiry. It provides an introduction to both, through lectures, tutorial discussions, and guided engagement with key primary texts.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bradshaw, Paul F. The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship (2nd ed.; New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
  • Burrus, Virginia (ed.) Late Ancient Christianity: A People’s History of Christianity Vol. 2 (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005).
  • Cohick, Lynn, and Amy Brown Young. Christian Women in the Patristic World (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017).
  • Edwards, Mark. Catholicity and Heresy in the Early Church (Farnham/Burlington: Ashgate Pub., 2009).
  • Giles, Kevin. Patterns of Ministry Among the First Christians 2nd ed. (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2017).
  • Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 1: The Early Church to the Reformation (New York: HarperOne, 2010).
  • Humphries, Mark.Early Christianity (London: Routledge, 2006).
  • Ludlow, Morwenna. The Early Church (London/New York: IB Tauris, 2009)
  • McGowan, Andrew B. Ancient Christian Worship: Early Church Practices in Social, Historical and Theological Perspective 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014).
  • Young, Frances. The Making of the Creeds (London: SCM Press, 1991).


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Research Essay 2500 words

2500 55.0
Multiple Choice Quizzes or Tests

Online quiz 500 words

500 10.0
Document Study

Document Study 1000 words

1000 35.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000