Virgins Martyrs Monks & Saints: Early Christianity
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What was it about Christianity that it made it so popular in the ancient world? Was it the martyrs volunteering for public execution? Monks’ sexual renunciation? The isolation of hermits living on the tops of columns in the wilderness? Or perhaps orthodoxy and its politically divisive anxieties about heretics and Jews? In fact, all these things (and more) explain how a small Jewish messianic sect from Palestine became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. This course will provide an introduction to the big questions in the history of early Christianity. The focus will be on early Christian literature, such as martyr texts, saints’ lives, and works of monastic spirituality and mysticism. Issues addressed will include the Christian reception of Greco-Roman antiquity, the origins of anti-Semitism, gender and sexuality in the early Church, and the emergence of Christian theology.