EH 144 History of the Early Church

Module Level

8 (undergraduate) BD / BTh programmes

Time Allowance

24 hours


Essay 40% / Exam 60%

Module Aims

  • Introduce the key themes, events and personalities in the early history of the Christian Church.
  • Provide students with a good overview of the most up to date scholarship on the history of Early Christianity.

Indicative Syllabus:

  • Early Christian communities and the spread of Christianity
  • Relations between the early Christians and the Roman Empire
  • The Early Fathers and their contribution to the evolution of Theology
  • Ebionites and Marcionites
  • Constantine and Imperial Christianity
  • Trinitarian and Christological controversies
  • Augustine’s struggle against Donatism and Pelagianism
  • The birth of monasticism in Egypt and Syria
  • The development of a Canon of Scripture
  • Apocryphal gospels and what they tell us about early Christianity
  • The rise of the papacy
  • Patrick and early Christianity in Ireland

Learning Outcomes

  • Appreciate the main events and personalities of the Early Church
  • Appreciate the main Christian writers and the major writings
  • Be familiar with the different models of Church-State relations in the first millennium.
  • An understanding of the early heresies and theological controversies.
  • A familiarity with the political and theological backgrounds to the earliest Christian councils


  • Joseph H. Lynch, Early Christianity: a brief history. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Joseph F. Kelly, The ecumenical councils of the Catholic Church: a history. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2009.
  • Margaret M. Mitchell and Frances M. Young (eds.), The Cambridge History of Christianity volume 1: Origins to Constantine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Morwenna Ludlow, The Early Church: the I.B. Tauris History of the Christian Church. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009.


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