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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 381
Course Title: *History of Christianity: The Early Church
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

The development of Christianity from its origins in 1st century Judaism to the eve of the Reformation. Specific subjects include the development of the Tanakh, Jewish eschatology, Hellenism, the quest of the historical Jesus, Gnosticism and other so-called heresies, Nicaea, the Trinity, Augustine. Cross-listed as RELI 381.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):


Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered Occasionally.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Christianity in Late Antiquity
By Bart Ehrman
From Jesus to Christianity
By L. Michael White
Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography
By John Dominic Crossan
The Christian Tradition (5 vols.)
By Jaroslav Pelikan
The Gnostic Gospels
By Elaine Pagels
The City of God
By Augustine
Course Learning Outcomes
  1. Explain and differentiate the three basic quests for the historical Jesus.
  2. Describe the historical origins of Judaism and Christianity.
  3. Analyze and compare ancient sources such as the Torah, the New Testament, Qumran Scriptures, and Nag Hammadi scriptures with modern scholarly interpretations.
  4. Explain the influence of Hellenistic thought, Persian dualism, and Hebrew eschatology on the formation of early Christianity.
  5. Analyze the archeology of Roman Palestine in the first century.
  6. Analyze the role of heresy in the formation of Christian orthodox doctrines.
  7. Describe the Council of Nicaea and the doctrine of the Trinity.
Major Topics/Skills to be Covered:
  • Historical origins of ancient Judaism.
  • Basic features, political and religious, of Roman Palestine
  • Quests of the historical Jesus, from Reimarus to the Jesus Seminar.
  • Gnosticism.
  • Events leading up to the great Councils of the Church.
  • Doctrine of the Trinity.
  • Influence of Augustine in the Western Church.
Culminating Experience Statement:

Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


Recommended maximum class size for this course: 25

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Anthony Alioto Date: April 21, 2015
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course learning outcomes and cover the subjects listed in the Major Topics/Skills to be Covered section. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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