Christopher Haas
Department of History
Classical Studies Program
St. Augustine Center 434
(610) 519-4679
christopher.haas@villanova.edu
 

Early Christianity and World Cultures:
Texts and Resources



Unit 1: Kerygma and Culture
    Introduction: What is Culture?

            Bardaisan: extract from the Book of the Laws of Diverse Countries
                                                        (begin at # 730)

          * Explore a page dedicated to the Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes

   The Ancient Mediterranean Context
             *  For a chronology of Roman emperors, thorough biographies of each,
             links to coin images, and maps of the Roman empire click here

                   Implications: Sorting Kerygma from Culture

magi - catacombs.jpg (34939 bytes)

(The Visit of the Magi - Rome, Catacombs of St. Callixtus, early 4th century)



Unit 2: Mediterranean Christianity

 The Inner Life of the Community
        A New Way of Life:
                Reading:  The Didache
      A New Style of Leadership
                Reading: Ignatius of Antioch on the role of the bishop
        A New Way of Viewing the Past
                Irenaeus of Lyon - handout
         Understanding Tradition - a modern assessment, click here

 Marking the Boundaries of the New Community
        Joining the Community
                 Reading: Hippolytus of Rome
        Which Books are Ours?
                 Readings: The Muratorian Fragment
                          

 The New Community and Roman Culture
          Readings: Letter to Diognetus
                            Tertullian
                            Clement                        

                           

 Points of Contact / Modes of Mission


(Trajan)
        A Roman governor's response to the spread of Christianity
          Reading: Pliny the Younger & the emperor Trajan
        Christianity Spreads in the Cities
           Reading: from the Acts of St. Mark (begin at chapter 2)
        Christianity Spreads in the Countryside
           Reading: from the Vita of Gregory Thaumaturgos



Unit 3: The New Community Confronts the Powers

 Roman State and Christian Church
              Readings: Dionysius of Alexandria
                              Decian libelli
                              Edict on Manichaeism
                              Diocletian & the Great Persecution

The Three Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace
Catacomb of Priscilla
Rome

 The Way of the Martyrs
          "... only let me attain to Jesus Christ."
                Reading: The letter of Ignatius to the church in Rome
          " Away with the atheist!"
                Reading: The Martyrdom of Polycarp
          Martyrdom and the Family
                Reading: The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas
           So what's the point?
                Reading: G. K. Chesterton - "The Modern Martyr"

 The Constantinian Revolution
                Two Readings on the Conversion of Constantine:
                           Lactantius: On the Deaths of the Persecutors
                                Eusebius: Life of Constantine                  



Unit 4: Late Antique Christianity

 A Christianized State?
          Readings:  Paulinus: V. of Ambrose
                          Symmachus and Ambrose -
                               * For a chronology of Ambrose, Symmachus, and Augustine, plus
                                  study questions on the Altar of Victory dossier, click
here
                                   * For the dossier of letters which constitute the core of the debate
                                  between Symmachus and Ambrose, click here
 

                          from the Codex Theodosianus - web source, click here
                          Augustine: selections from the City of God
                                The Destruction of the Serapeum, click here                             
          

 The Call of the Desert
           Readings: The bestseller of the 4th century: Athanasius's V. of Anthony
               For study questions to the Life of Anthony, click here

                           Desert Fathers & Desert Mothers
                           K. Ware: "The Way of the Ascetics"

 Hagiography and History: Three Lives 
      Readings:   V. of Macrina
                         V. of Mary of Egypt
                          V. of Martin

 Holy Places, Holy Things
          Readings:   Constantine & the Holy Land
                            Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
                           
     

 Councils and Conflicts
           Readings:   Arianism
                             Nestorius and Chalcedon



Unit 5: The Church and the "Fall" of Rome

Making do with the Present:
         Reading: V. of Severinus
          

Preserving the Past:
          Readings: Jerome & Bible Translation
                          Boethius & Cassiodorus

Preparing for the Future:
          Reading:  Benedict


Unit 6: First Forays Beyond the Frontier

Germanic Culture
        A Roman Historian Looks at the Germans of His Day
            Reading: Tacitus: Germania
        Having Dinner with Attila the Hun
            Reading: Priscus of Panium

gothic fibula - 4th century.jpg (18049 bytes)
(Gothic decorative gold fibula, 4th century)

Ulfilas and the Goths
       
        The Missions of Ulfilas
             Reading: The Letter of Auxentius regarding Ulfilas
                             Philostorgius on the Work of Ulfilas among the Goths

A (brief) look at Patricius
             Readings:  hymn on the Life of St. Patrick
                             St. Patrick's Confessio


Unit 7: The Syriac World and Persia

 West Syrian Levant

edessa - musicians.jpg (170989 bytes)

(Mosaic of a family from Edessa, 3rd century AD)

        Abgar, Addai and Edessa
            Reading:  The legend of St. Thaddeus (Addai) and King Abgar
            For an icon of Abgar holding the cloth with Christ's image, click here

        Singers and Stylites:
            Reading:  St. Ephraim's First Hymn on Fasting
                              St. Ephraim's Hymns on the Nativity (read the first three)
                                * Remarks on the life of St. Ephraim
                                      from Sozomen's Church History may be found here

                                  * Read about the seige of Nisibis by Shapur I in 338 here
                            Simeon Stylites, his Life and that of Daniel the Stylite

                            St. Isaac of Nineveh

(13th century icon of St. Ephraim)

Non-Chalcedonian Syria - The Jacobites

        Edessene Christianity

        Jacob Baradaeus and the refounding of Syriac Christianity
         Reading: John of Ephesus' Life of Jacob

                * For a listing of Jacobite patriarchs of Antioch, click here
                    Be sure to follow the link to the "spiral" of patriarchal succession.

        Jacob of Sarug
         Reading: Canticle on Habib the Martyr

        The world of John of Ephesus\


( the Triumphal Entry from a Medieval Syriac manuscript)

Christianity in Persia -- the Church of the East

        A chronology of all Sassanian kings may be found here
                + a short history of the Sassanian empire here
        A chronology of Persian Christianity may be found here

Persian Christians came into conflict with the magi, priests of the state          religion of Zoroastrianism, for information on this religion, click here

        Christians in Sassanian Persia -- various texts readings

        The work of Marutha, bishop and ambassador -- click here

        Border Wars and Christian Persecutions -- click here

        Barsauma, Narsai and the School of Nisibis
                 Reading: Narsai - Homily on the Resurrection

        Establishing a New Identity

                 Reading: The reforms of Mar Babhai
                     -- from Thomas of Marga, The Book of the Governors



Unit 8: Nilotic Christianity

* View stunningly life-like mummy portraits
                  of late antique Egyptians here
 
 

Coptic Egypt

    Early Egyptian Christianity

    Monks and Martyrs
        Reading:  Martyrdom of St. Macrobius (+ Intro.)

           *   A helpful overview of early Coptic Christianity may be found here

           *   Visit an extensive site dedicated to the city of Alexandria here
                                 *  Explore Alexandria's archaeological remains by using the
                                     many links found here

Nubian Sudan

    Kush and Mediterranean Civilization

         * A map of Nubia may be found here

         * For a good overview of Nubian history and culture, click here

    The Conversion of the Nubian Kingdoms
        Reading:  a selection from John of Ephesus' Ecclesiastical History

         * Visit the Nubian Museum in Egypt by clicking here

           *  For the frescoes from the cathedral at Faras, click here

African Kingdoms, p. 38.jpg (107617 bytes)

Jesus and the Paralytic / Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well
Wall Painting, Church of St. Mary, 13th century, Ethiopia

Axum - Ancient Ethiopia
        Readings: Texts on Axum, Christianity, and the Roman Empire 
                          selections from the Lives of Ethiopian Saints


          *  View stunning Ethiopian icons, click here
 



Unit 9: The Caucasus

 Armenia:
             Reading: Gregory the Illuminator


      * Take a virtual tour of ancient Armenian churches!  click here
        * Explore galleries of Armenian miniature paintings: click here

Georgia:
       * For a survey of Georgian church history, click here and then follow the
         link for "History"

      Nina "Equal to the Apostles"
            Reading:  The Life of St. Nina from Rufinus' Ecclesiastical History

      A Martyred Princess:

             Reading:  The Passio of Shushanik

      A Martyrdom under Sassanian Over-lords

              Reading:   The Passio of Eustace the Cobbler

     * Tour an interactive image map of Georgia and read the intro here

      *  An album of early Georgian churches may be found here and here, listed          under "Georgian Christian Art."    **Be sure to also visit the link for
        "Enamels"

Georgian enamel reliquary.jpg (38925 bytes)
Georgian enamel reliquary, 10th century



Unit 10: Central Asia, China and India

pamirs.jpg (179349 bytes)

 Along the Silk Road
        Readings:  Nestorian Missions in Central Asia
                                from Thomas of Marga,  The Book of the Governors

                       
An Account of a Christian Turkic Tribe
China
nestor2.jpg (26466 bytes)
(A priest and worshippers during a Palm Sunday service:
wall painting from Turfan oasis, western China --
for an enlargement, click "view image" on browser)
        Readings:
                         The Nestorian Stone Monument of Sian-fu

                              *For photos and a discussion of the stone, click here

                          For a collection of documents related to the official status of
                          Christianity in T'ang China, click here


                           A Chinese Hymn on the Transfiguration

                          A Chinese Hymn on the Holy Trinity

                         For the funerary inscription honoring the Persian general Abraham, click here

India

            Reading: The Acts of St. Thomas

         *  tour some ancient churches of India by clicking here
                            (Look under "Malankara")
           *  Examine one of the early Syriac/Pahlavi stone crosses by clicking here
          



Unit 11: Christianity and Judaism
 



Unit 12: Christianity and Early Islam

The New Faith
    Martyrs of Najr‚n

 Relations under the Ummayyads:
    Mena of Nikiu: V. of Isaac

 The Abbasids and the rise of Dhummitude:  
    Patriarch Timothy & Caliph Mahdi

 The Continuing Legacy



Unit 13: The Barbarian Kingdoms of the West
 



Unit 14: Celtic Ireland and early Britain


(opening page of St. John's Gospel, Book of Kells)

 



Unit 15: Christianizing Germanic Society

 


viking birka crucifix.jpg (22484 bytes)

(The Birka crucifix, 10th century: the oldest image of Christ from Scandinavia)


Unit 16: Scandinavia

    The World of the Northmen
    Early Missions in Baltic Lands
      Reading: The Life of St. Anskar
    Viking Kings and the "White Christ"
      Reading: From the Saga of Olaf Trygvesson in the "Heimskingla"

    stave church - borgund.jpg (21813 bytes)



Unit 17: Danubian Lands
             Reading: from the Lives of Sts. Cyril and Methodius


Unit 18: Kievan Russia
               Reading: The Conversion of St. Vladimir from the Russian Primary Chronicle, click here

 

 

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