The unit will focus on the literature and experience of Christian Spirituality in the patristic and medieval period. The emphasis will be on the study of significant texts in their theological and cultural setting. Students will be required to consider how this relates to the living of Christian Spirituality today, and to engage in an experiential process by visiting some expressions in their contemporary context (for example monastic, prayer groups, other Christian denominations).

Examples of texts include: The Letters of Ignatius of Antioch; Desert Literature; Athanasius - The Life of Antony; Eastern liturgy and iconography; Gregory of Nyssa, The life of Moses; John Cassian, The Conferences; Benedict of Nursia, The Holy Rule; Bernard of Clairvaux and Hildegard of Bingen; Bonaventure, The Mind’s Road to God; Medieval Women Writers, the Rhineland Mystics and the English Mystical Tradition.

Unit code: DS1003C

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 1

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Identify and discuss a representative selection of classical texts from the traditions of Eastern and Western Christianity in the patristic and medieval periods


Describe the particular areas of Christian spirituality that were developed by some leading authors and texts during this period


Analyse the relationship between the writings and the wider cultural context.


Identify some contemporary expressions of Christian spirituality and how they relate to the tradition from which they have evolved


Evaluate ways in which the Christian spiritual tradition and its contemporary expressions can influence the life of the individual


Lecture, workshops

Indicative Bibliography

  • Burrows, Mark S & Elizabeth Dreyer., eds. Minding the Spirit: The Study of Christian Spirituality. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005.
  • Clement, O. The Roots of Mysticism. London: New City, 1993.
  • Cunningham, L.S. Christian Spirituality: Themes from the Tradition. New York: Paulist, 1996.
  • Egan, H. An Anthology of Christian Mysticism. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991.
  • Holder, A. Christian Spirituality: The Classics. London: Routledge, 2009.
  • Johnston, W. M., ed. Encyclopaedia of Monasticism. 2 vols. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000.
  • Louth, A. The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon, 2007.
  • McGinn, B., A History of Western Christian Spirituality. Vol. 1-4, New York: Crossroad, 1995-2005.
  • Sheldrake, P. Spirituality: A Brief History. Oxford: Blackwell, 2013.
  • Williams, R. The Wound of Knowledge. 2nd ed. London: DLT, 2014.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Text study – 750 words

750 20.0

Report on Experiences – 750 words

750 20.0

Essay – 2000 words

2000 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 16 Aug, 2022

Unit record last updated: 2022-08-16 17:00:37 +1000