History is always in dialogue with the contemporary world. For communities as well as for individuals, memory is the foundation for making meaning in the present, and for shaping the future. This unit explores dangerous and creative memories within the Christian community. It equips you with skills, approaches and new perspectives so as to tell more nuanced and interesting stories that go beyond media stereotypes. Using historical case studies that still resonate today, we will explore how and why some assumptions about the church and people of faith proved widely popular, while other Christian histories have been forgotten, neglected or distorted. We will focus in particular on disagreement and divergence of opinion in order to understand the impact of particular kinds of source material and how historical tradition can serve particular purposes. We will explore how memories of people and events have been shaped, and show how new work drawing on different sources and asking new questions can enrich, enliven and challenge understandings of the past. In 2022 the case studies will explore histories of Christianity and nationalism, gender and the body, capitalism and the secular, interfaith and cross-cultural contact, and the environment.

Unit code: CH8020P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Discuss the development of "standard accounts" of the history of the Christian community from the Jesus movement to the present;


Analyse the reasons for differing interpretations or emphases in the interpretation of a historical controversy or neglected area


Analyse and articulate the contributions of key works to the interpretation of a historical controversy or neglected area


Articulate key principles of interpretation of a range of historical evidence (including varieties of documents, artefacts, music and art);


Demonstrate the ability to interpret a range of historical sources;


Discuss the implications of historical understanding for ministry in the contemporary Christian church.

Unit sequence

An foundational unit in Church History, designed to provide an overview of key controversies in the history of Christianity and an introduction to historical method.


Guided seminar reading and discussion, lecture input,

Indicative Bibliography

  1. Collier-Thomas, Bettye. Jesus, Jobs and Justice: African-American Women and Religion. New York: Alfred A. Knopt, 2010.

  2. Crabtree, Sarah. Holy Nation: The Transatlantic Quaker Ministry in an Age of Revolution. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2013.

  3. Glancy, Jennifer. Corporal Knowledge: Early Christian Bodies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

  4. Handasyde, Kerrie. God in the Landscape: Studies in the Literary History of Australian Protestant Dissent. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.

  5. Kaizer, Ted. (ed.). Religion, Society and Culture at Dura-Europos. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

  6. Kobes Du Mez, Kristen. Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation. New York: Liveright, 2020.

  7. Lake, Meredith. The Bible in Australia. Sydney: NewSouth Books, 2020.

  8. Massam, Katharine. A Bridge Between: Spanish Benedictine Missionary Women in Australia. Canberra: ANU Press, 2020.

  9. Miles, Margaret. Word Made Flesh: A History of Christian Thought. Hoboken: Wiley, 2013.

  10. Van Torn, Penny. Writing Never Arrives Naked: Early Aboriginal Cultures of Writing in Australia. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2006.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Document Study

Study of a historical source relating to a key controversy, forgotten question or new interpretation in the history of the Christian community

1500 20.0
Literature Survey

Survey of the literature relating to a key controversy, forgotten question or new interpretation in the history of the Christian community.

1500 20.0

Essay demonstrating an understanding of reasons for change over time in interpretation of a key controversy, forgotten question or new area in history of the Christian community

3000 50.0

Respond to questions and discussion on the significance of a key controversy, forgotten question or new interpretation in the history of the Christian community.

1000 10.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 17 Sep, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-09-17 12:22:08 +1000