PG 302: History of Christian Thought (24 hours)

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Module Level

9/10 PhD, MTh, STL Seminar Course

Time Allowance

24 hours


Class work (this may take the form of class presentations; the compilation of working bibliographies on a select topic; a book review of a chosen title, etc.): 15%. | Essay of 5,000 words on an agreed topic: 85%

Module Aims

To provide students with a thorough introduction to the most significant issues in the evolution of Christian thought over two millennia

To situate these theological developments in their broader historical context.

Learning Outcomes

By means of class presentation, guided reading and the exploration of key themes, students should come to appreciate the rich tapestry that is the history of the Christian tradition.

As each session will incorporate the close reading of some contemporary texts, students will develop a familiarity with primary source material: where to find it; how to use it; and where to access more specialised studies of the topics in question.

Indicative Syllabus

· Christianity takes shape: early Christian writings and what they tell us about the nascent Christian movement

· The Christian movement and the state

· The evolution of the doctrine of the Trinity

· Conflicts over the person of Christ

· Controversies concerning grace and salvation in the fourth and fifth centuries

· Theologies of eastern and western Christianity

· Medieval scholasticism

· Questions of authority in the medieval church

· The age of the Reformations

· Theological controversies of early modern and modern Christianity.

Timetable: Wednesday evenings (first semester): 7pm – 9pm.

Venue: South Campus. Loftus Halls, Room: Middle Loftus


  • Primary Sources:
  • Bettenson, Henry and Chris Maunder (eds), Documents of the Christian Church. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Ehrman, Bart D., After the New Testament: a Reader in Early Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Ehrman, Bart D., Christianity in Late Antiquity, 300-450CE. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Stevenson, J (and revised by W.H.C. Frend), A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church to AD 337. 3rd edn. Baker Academic, 2013.
  • Stevenson, J. (and revised by W.H.C. Frend), Creeds, Councils and Controversies: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church, AD 337-461. Revised edn. London: SPCK, 1989.
  • Select Bibliography (for general reference):
  • Bell, David N., A Cloud of Witnesses: an Introduction to the Development of Christian Doctrine to AD 500. 2nd ed., Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 2007.
  • Bell, David N., Many Mansions: an Introduction to the Development and Diversity of Medieval Theology West and East. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1996.
  • Evans, G.R., The first Christian Theologians: an Introduction to Theology in the Early Church. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004.
  • Evans, G.R., The Medieval Theologians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • González, Justo, A History of Christian Thought. 3 vols. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1987.
  • González, Justo L., A History of Christian Thought in One Volume. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2014.
  • Green, Bernard, Christianity in Ancient Rome: the First Three Centuries. London: T&T Clark, 2010.
  • Kelly, Joseph F., The Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church: a History. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2009.
  • Kelly, Joseph F., History and Heresy: How Historical Forces can Create Doctrinal Conflicts. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2012.
  • Lane, Tony, A Concise History of Christian Thought. London: T&T Clark, 2006.
  • McGrath, Alister E., Historical Theology: an Introduction to the History of Christian Thought. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.
  • McGrath, Alister, Heresy: a History of Defending the Truth. London: SPCK, 2009.
  • Meister, Chad, and J.B. Stump, Christian Thought: a historical introduction. Routledge: London and New York, 2010.
  • Miles, Margaret R., The Word Made Flesh: a History of Christian Thought. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.
  • Mitchell, Margaret M., and Frances M. Young (eds.), The Cambridge History of Christianity volume 1: Origins to Constantine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav, The Christian Tradition: a History of the Development of Doctrine. 5 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971-89.
  • Wilken, Robert Louis. The First Thousand Years: a Global History of Christianity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.