Why Study Early Church History?

Date Cancelled
College University of Trinity College, Faculty of Divinity
Instructor(s) Billett, Jesse
Course Code TRH1011HS
Semester Second Semester
Section 0101
Online No
Credits One Credit
Location Toronto (St George Campus)

Why should anyone training for lay or ordained ministry in today’s Church care about history or what historians do? Is there even such a thing as historical “reality”? If there is, what makes historians think they can ever discover any part of it? And what can the past possibly contribute to the new theological and pastoral problems of the present? In this course, we will grapple with these questions as they relate to the earliest centuries of Christian history, from the time of the apostles down to the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It was during this period that the Church(es) worked out the patterns of belief, governance, worship, ministry, and mission that Christians of all subsequent centuries have variously appealed to as binding norms of “orthodoxy” or rejected as corruptions of the primitive Gospel. As we learn about some of the most influential events, persons, and ideas of this period, we will interrogate the materials and methods used by historians to reconstruct the past, asking why historians have often disagreed about the supposedly “objective” facts of what “actually happened.” We will explore how new questions and pressures led pre-modern and modern historians to offer radically different interpretations of the significance of early Christian history, and we will test some of the claims about the Christian past that have been used to justify choices in our own time. Students will receive an introductory training in the responsible use of primary sources and secondary literature that will equip them both to continue with more specialized coursework in history and to begin drawing on historical knowledge to enhance their own practical ministries.

Department Historical
Schedule N/A
Start Time TBA
End Time TBA
Hours Per Week 2
Minimum Enrolment 5
Maximum Enrolment 15
Teaching Method
Means of Evaluation
Currently Offered Winter 2024