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Unit information: Pagan and Christian in Late Antiquity: Debate and Interaction in 2018/19

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Unit name Pagan and Christian in Late Antiquity: Debate and Interaction
Unit code CLAS37016
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Sandwell
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None,

Co-requisites

None.

School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

Interaction between 'pagans' (adherents of Greek and Roman religions) and the growing numbers of Christians is one of the most fascinating topics in the history of the later Roman empire. This unit will explore the various ways that pagans and Christians interacted in the third to fourth centuries AD from the period of the Great Persecutions, through Constantine's conversion up to the reign of Theodosius at the end of the fourth century. It will look at examples of debate and argument between pagans and Christians as well as at attempts by members of one religion to defend themselves against the other. It will consider how far the two religions found common ground, for example in their religious practice or in the neutral religious language used to praise emperors. Finally, it will explore how Christians took on classical culture and classical forms, such as history writing, and remade them to suit their new religion.

The aims of this unit are to:

  • develop understanding of the different ways that pagans and Christians interacted and sought to reinterpret themselves and their position in the period
  • enable students to acquire detailed knowledge of pagan and Christian writings about the religious situation of the third to fourth centuries and of the problems that these writings raise
  • develop and refine skills in constructing coherent, relevant and sophisticated critical arguments, and in relating readings of texts and images to wider theoretical issues
  • develop and enhance skills in oral and written communication.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students should have:

  • developed understanding of the different ways that pagans and Christians interacted and sought to reinterpret themselves and their position in the period
  • acquired detailed knowledge of pagan and Christian writings about the religious situation of the third to fourth centuries and of the problems that these writings raise
  • developed and refined their skills in constructing coherent, relevant and sophisticated critical arguments, and in relating their readings of texts and images to wider theoretical issues
  • developed and enhanced their skills in oral and written communication by contributing to discussion in seminars and producing an essay and a written examination.

Teaching details

3 hours per week (seminars)

Assessment Details

One essay of 3,000 words (50%) and one examination of 2 hours (50%).

Reading and References

P. Rousseau, The Early Christian Centuries, 2002 (especially chapters 6-9).

A. D. Lee, Pagans and Christians in Late Antiquity: A Source Book, 2000.

A. Cameron, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The development of Christian Discourse, 1991.

R. A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity, 1990 (Chapters 1-9).

I. Sandwell, Religious Identity in Late Antiquity: Greeks, Jews and Christians in Antioch 2007.

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