History of Christianity

The Department of Theology provides a congenial setting for the study of the history of Christianity in all its rich complexity. Reflecting the diversity of methods and interests of the faculty, a sampling of doctoral seminars from recent years would include:

  • the medieval Jewish-Christian encounter
  • religious pilgrimage
  • asceticism
  • theologies of Aquinas, Augustine, Luther, and Origen, among others

Special strengths of the program in the history of Christianity include the interpretation of scripture prior to the modern period, spirituality, and doctrine and theological method from the early period through the Reformation.

“I tend to gravitate towards doctrines that seem inexplicable, and I try to understand what motivated the early Christians to formulate these doctrines in just these ways."
— Khaled Anatolios, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology

Students who major in the history of Christianity normally concentrate in their course work and candidacy examinations on two of the following periods of Christian history, in any combination: early, medieval, Reformation & modern. In the first two years of residence, the student takes courses in the major, evenly divided between the two periods.

While the majority of these courses are taken with the faculty in the Department of Theology, students are encouraged to take appropriate courses offered by historians of Christianity affiliated with other departments in the University. Students are also required to take some courses outside their field.

Admission to the history of Christianity program has in recent years been increasingly competitive. Entering students should already have made significant progress in the study of languages needed for serious historical research; introductory language work while in residence will be in addition to the normal course load.

Library holdings are especially strong in the early and medieval periods. Most of the reference and research tools crucial for the investigation of early and medieval Christianity are housed in the Medieval Institute, located on the seventh floor of the Hesburgh Library.