History of Christianity

The History of Christianity area focuses on one major western religious tradition, in itself and in its interactions with other religions and cultures across time. The area fosters knowledge of the range of communities claiming an identity as "Christian" from the first through the twenty-first centuries, as well as allowing for individual specialization in a particular movement or historical moment, including ancient Christianity (to Constantine), late antique and medieval Christianity, the Reformation and early modernity, the Puritan movement, and the broad range of American Christianity.



Rachel Fulton Brown, Curtis J. Evans, Karin KrauseMargaret M. Mitchell, Willemien Otten, Lucy K. Pick, Susan E. Schreiner

History of Christianity brief overview (pdf)

Coursework and guided research emphasize the acquisition of essential skills of documentary and artifactual interpretation, critical appraisal of a range of methodological approaches to the material, and a sophisticated appreciation of the tasks, goals and audiences of historiographical writing. The construction of this area is based on the assumption that there are major issues that apply and extend to all periods (such as forms of biblical interpretation, means of adjudicating "orthodoxy" and "heresy," the relationship between Christian communities and the social order, forms of institutional and personal piety), as well as particular expressions of those dynamics in different chronological and geographical settings. It also assumes the need for integration of intellectual, social, institutional and cultural histories for interpreting the body of existing evidence and adequately addressing most important questions about this particular religious tradition in its various manifestations. Students in the HC area are encouraged to formulate an interdisciplinary approach to their research, through coursework throughout the areas of the Divinity School and the University (including the Department of History).

Progress Conference format

The progress (or pre-exam) conference is normally held in the spring quarter of the second year, or the fall of the third year.  In History of Christianity, the progress conference is held with the student's panel of examiners for the qualifying examinations, and will normally include assessment of coursework to date, cogency of the course of study petition, readiness for qualifying examinations, and development of the dissertation project. A report from the advisor and a timeline for the qualifying examinations is submitted to the Dean of Students following the conference. 


Written Examinations

The Following Written Examinations are offered by the HC Area:

1. Ancient (to 600 CE) view bibliography (pdf)
2. Medieval (600-1300) view bibliography (pdf)
3. Early Modern (1300-1600) view bibliography (pdf)
4. Modern (1600-present) view bibliography (pdf)

A student in the area is expected to take three of the four examinations, or two plus the Historical Studies Committee exam on the History of Comparative Exegesis (pdf), together with one other examination, preferably outside the Historical Studies Committee. Every student must complete at least one major course in the four chronological periods of the history of Christianity delineated by the exams.

Selected History of Christianity Courses

HCHR 30100 History of Christian Thought I. Otten
HCHR 30200 History of Christian Thought II. Otten
HCHR 30300 History of Christian Thought III. Schreiner
HCHR 30400 History of Christian Thought IV. Hector
HCHR 30900 History of Christian Thought V. Hector
HCHR 31000 History of Christian Thought VI. Hopkins
HCHR 31500 Liturgy and Devotion in the Middle Ages. Pick
HCHR 31800 Before and After Augustine: Echoes of a Church Father. Otten
HCHR 40000 Religion and Slavery in America. Brekus
HCHR 40500 Religion in Colonial America. Brekus
HCHR 40600 Religion in Early National and Antebellum America. Brekus
HCHR 40700 Women and Religion in America: From the Puritans to the Civil War. Brekus
HCHR 41300 Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Medieval Spain. Pick
HCHR 41700 Calvin’s Institutes. Schreiner
HCHR 42100 The Enlightenment in America. Brekus
HCHR 42300 Readings in Luther. Schreiner
HCHR 42400 English Puritanism. Gilpin
HCHR 42901 Christianity and Slavery in America, 1619-1865. Evans
HCHR 43100 The Catholic Reformation. Schreiner
HCHR 43200 Colloquium: Ancient Christianity. Mitchell
HCHR 43301 Religion in Modern America, 1865-1920. Evans
HCHR 43800 Knowledge, Salvation, and Certainty: The Sixteenth Century and Its Legacy. Schreiner
HCHR 43900 Luther and the Old Testament. Schreiner
HCHR 44100 Reading and Writing as Medieval Spiritual Practice. Pick
HCHR 44901 Race and Religion in Twentieth-century American Culture. Evans
HCHR 46801 Incarnation and the Body in the Latin West: From Tertullian to Thomas Aquinas. Otten
HCHR 46802 Affective Spirituality: The Victorine and Franciscan Tradition. Otten
HCHR 48600 The Book of Nature: Diachronic Perspectives. Otten
HCHR 48700 Late Medieval Women: Authorship and Authority. Otten
HCHR 50300 Medieval Latin. Pick
HCHR 52000 Eriugena’s Anthropology: Paradise at the Crossroads Between East and West. Otten
HCHR 53440 Reading Augustine's Confessions. Otten

Why Chicago?

Willemien Otten, Professor of Theology and the History of Christianity, offers a perspective on the virtues of the Divinity School's tradition of training academic teachers and public religious leaders "under one roof."

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