This course will give an overview of the history of Christianity, which grew to be the world’s largest religion with currently more than 2.4 billion followers. In the first three sessions of the course we will investigate the foundations of Christianity, in the following two sessions we will discuss developments of Christianity in the Middle Ages and during the Reformation Era. The last three sessions of the course will focus on modern developments of Christianity - from Enlightenment until today.
We will start with the roots of Christianity in Judaism and, in this context, discover the person of Jesus Christ. The historical setting of an emerging Christian faith in the Roman Empire and in ancient culture will also lead us to the following central questions: What are/were Christian theology and doctrines about and to which degree can they be seen as something novel or new. The fall of the Roman Empire marks the beginning of a great transformation of Christianity concerning its geographical expansion but also its strong connection with political leaders, which characterized the Middle Ages. These developments form the historical setting for the era of Reformation, the critique and theses of the Reformators, and the formation of a new confession, namely Protestantism.
During the last three sessions, we will look at modernity: We will discuss the question of how the Christian churches reacted to the dictatorships of the 20th century and investigate the role of the church during the time of National Socialism and in socialist East Germany (GDR). Lastly, we will also look closely at Christianity today.
This course is open to students from all disciplines and levels of study.
All students will be expected to participate actively in class meetings and excursions, to have completed all the readings and to present two short reports on specific topics in the class sessions or excursions. In the last meeting students will hold a presentation on a topic of their own choice related to the course theme.
A course reader will be provided.