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The Early Church: History and Memory - 20 credits (RT4208)

Module Tutor: Professor Josef Lössl

Summary of course content

This module offers a concise, yet in-depth, introduction to the history of the Early Church. It reflects on history generally, studies the cultural and historical context in which Christianity emerged, teachings and religious practices of early Christians, their attitudes to culture and society, their handling of diversity and tensions and their search for a common identity and way of life. The module also looks at the reception of the phenomenon of the Early Church throughout history and its relevance today.

Credits: 20

Availability of module: Every other year – Autumn and Spring

RT1108 Religion, Culture and Society I
RT6104 Religion, Culture and Society II

Necessary for: No other courses currently build on this one


To study the phenomenon of the early Church, how it emerged and developed in the first five centuries and how it is discussed in Theology and Religious Studies today.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to demonstrate

  • knowledge of the history of the early Church and some of the main approaches and methods in which the subject is studied and discussed in Theology and Religious Studies today
  • an ability to analyse historical sources reflecting the origin and development of the early Church and its reception and relevant secondary literature discussing these
  • an ability to discuss issues related to the study of the early Church, its history, its study and its influence on culture today

Teaching methods

Lectures and seminars


Coursework (two essays and oral presentation) and examination (25:75)

Suggested book purchases

J. Lössl, The Early Church: History and Memory (London: Continuum T&T Clark, 2010)

Suggested preparatory reading

Ferguson, E. 2003 Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans
Grafton A. and M. H. Williams 2006. Christianity and the Transformation of the Book. Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press
Humphries, M. 2006. Early Christianity. London: Routledge
Kirk, A. and T. Thatcher (eds) 2005 Memory, Tradition and Text. Uses of the Past in Early Christianity. Atlanta, GA.: Society of Biblical Literature
MacCulloch, D., 2011. A History of Christianity. London: Allen Lane

Primary sources

The Bible; Early Christian Writings