This unit introduces the students to the study of Christian Spirituality with some significant examples of Christian literature from the beginning of the Christian movement to the Middle Ages. The focus 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 study and living of Christian Spirituality today and to experience some contemporary expressions of aspects of this subject. 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 – Selections; Bonaventure, The Mind’s Road to God; Selections from Medieval Women Writers, the Rhineland Mystics and the English Mystical Tradition.

Unit code: DS8001C

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


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


Discuss 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


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


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


Research a specific topic in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner


Lecture, workshops

Indicative Bibliography

  • 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.
  • ———. What are they saying about Mysticism? New York: Paulist, 1982.
  • Holder, A., ed. Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.
  • 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.
  • McGrath, A.E. Christian Spirituality: An Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1999.
  • Nichols, A. A Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2003.
  • Rahner, K. The Practice of Faith. London: SCM, 1982.
  • Sheldrake, P. Spirituality: A Brief History. Oxford: Blackwell, 2013.
  • ———., ed. New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2006.
  • Williams, R. The Wound of Knowledge. London: DLT, 1979.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Synthesis – 2000 words

2000 40.0

Essay – 4000 words

4000 60.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 19 Oct, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-05-10 15:07:18 +1000