Early Church History: Introducing the Module

This module covers the period 100 AD to 325 AD. The start date is (approximately) the close of the New Testament period. Though we refer back to NT writings, our main concern is with the next generations. The close date is the date of the Council of Nicea, under the Emperor Constantine, when Christianity entered a new era, having become the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Please check https://kenbaker.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/ech-lecture-5.ppt for an overview lecture, introducing you to some of the major writers, leaders, events and places involved in the ECH period. Please check out the many articles on this subject on this site by following the Early Church History category in the right hand side toolbar. Go to https://kenbaker.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/early-church-history-men-and-movements/  for a handy timeline of the period. Here is a brief schedule for the course:

1. The NT period: Men and Movements. The missionary movement from Acts 1:8/ Johannine communities in Asia Minor. Ancient non-Biblical witnesses: Pliny, Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius.

2. The next generation: The writings of Ignatius/ Polycarp/ Pliny. Early local persecution.

3. The “Ism”  Trail: Sketching the heresies of two centuries: Ebionitism/ Docetism/ Arianism/ Adoptionism/ Gnosticism/ Montanism…and the “mainstream” creeds from Irenaeus to Athanasius.

4. Introducing the Assignment: Charting the development of ideas about Jesus: “Who do people say that I am?” The assignment of this module is to trace the developing ideas about Jesus from 100AD to 325AD. Some of the articles of the site refer to this in enough detail to get you started. Of particular importance are those under the Christology category, though bear in mind that you are writing a historical rather than theological account.

The range of NT discussion about Jesus/ Ignatius/ Reveiwing “heretical” teachers/ Arius and Athansius.

5. Reviewing the material so far. We will spend one session reviewing the “story so far” introducing new context.

6 The work of Irenaeus/Later persecution

7 Sabellius/ Tertullian/ Origen

8. Diocletian and the division of Empire. 

9. Athanasius and Arius

10. Nicea and beyond: Constantine’s settlement/ Looking ahead.

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