This course offers an introductory survey of two millennia of Christian developments, starting with the origins and background of the Christian tradition, discussing its spread and socio-political integration during the patristic era, its central role in the structuring of the medieval world, the challenges it faced during the Reformation and with the rise of Modernity, and its history during the subsequent era of the Restoration, up to the Second Vatican Council in the mid-twentieth century. |
Given that the course aims at giving students a broad orientation in the context of a wider curriculum in Catholic theology, the emphasis is on the development of the Catholic part of Christendom.
The survey presented is informed by a historical-contextual approach: the doctrines and structures of the Catholic church are studied and understood within their historical context and in confrontation with other major developments. The course aims to integrate the institutional history of the church with the history of theological ideas, and to connect these with the political and legal developments that shaped each historical phase.
Upon completion of the course, students will have acquired basic knowledge of the main currents of thought and of major protagonists in Western church history, and will be able to compare theological and societal currents across historical periods.
The course consists of twelve sessions, during which a chronological survey of twenty centuries is gradually presented. This overview integrates institutional and doctrinal evolutions with political and social change. The course is built around the following axis:|
1. Pauline Christianity and the Hellenistic environment
2. Christianity under the Roman Empire: apologetics, spread, persecutions
3. Late Antique Christianity: doctrinal debates, the emergence of Latin patristics, the fall of the Western Roman Empire
4. Early Medieval society: the rise of Frankish Empires and the restructuring of Christendom
5. Medieval Reforms and the separation of Eastern and Western Christianity
6. The Late Middle Ages: Scholasticism and Western divisions
7. Sixteenth-Century Reforms: Augustinianism, Humanism, Protestant Reformation
8. The Jansenist Crisis and the Gallican Church
9. The Challenge of Modernity: Enlightenment Thought and the Clash between Faith and Reason
10. Nineteenth-Century Restoration and the Roman Question
11. Cross-currents in Early Twentieth-Century Catholicism
12. The Reforms of the Second Vatican Council