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.

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

This list is a sample of courses offered in this area and is for informational purposes only. For current and upcoming courses, visit http://divinity.uchicago.edu/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 30900 History of Christian Thought V: Modern Religious Thought. Hector
  • HCHR 32302 Byzantium: Art-Religion-Culture. Krause
  • HCHR 33200 Interpreting the Gospel according to Matthew. Mitchell
  • HCHR 34900 The Age of Walter Rauschenbusch: History and Historiography of the Social Gospel Movement. Evans
  • HCHR 35600 The Christian Right: History and Historiography. Evans
  • HCHR 39402 Race and Religion in 20th Century America. Evans
  • HCHR 40902 Religion in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War. Howell
  • HCHR 42407 Comparative and Global Christianities. Heo
  • HCHR 42901 Christianity and Slavery in America, 1619-1865. Evans
  • HCHR 43010 Art and Ritual in Byzantium.  Krause
  • HCHR 43102 Early Modern Catholicism. Schreiner
  • HCHR 43107 Early Christian Art. Krause
  • HCHR 43200 Colloquium: Ancient Christianity. Mitchell
  • HCHR 43508 Dialogue in the Middle Ages. Pick
  • HCHR 44004 The Veneration of Icons in Byzantium: History, Theory and Practice. Krause
  • HCHR 44600 Renaissance and Reformation. Schreiner.
  • HCHR 44804 Virginity and the Body from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Pick
  • HCHR 45010 Historical Theological Debates: Predestination and the Augustinian Legacy in the Carolingian Era.  Otten
  • HCHR 47006 Early Spain: Visigoths, Umayyads, and Asturians. Pick
  • HCHR 48701 Late Medieval Women: Authorship and Authority. Otten
  • HCHR 50401 Early Christian Rhetoric. Mitchell
  • HCHR 50704 Colloquium: The Psalms in Medieval Liturgy and Exegesis. Fulton Brown
  • HCHR 51510 Idolatry: Historical and Modern Perspectives. Schreiner
  • HCHR 53500 Early Christian Biblical Interpretation. Mitchell
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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