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Class 1: Introduction

Church History

Dr. Ann T. Orlando

Sept. 3, 2013

Introduction to Church History
 Introductory remarks
 Importance of Church History
 Review Syllabus
 Structure of course
 Requirements
 Course Web Site
 Primary sources
 Where are they?
 How to read them
 Periods or eras in histiography
 Assignments
Importance of Church History
 An appreciation for importance of Catholic Church in Western
 Papacy is oldest continually functioning institution in the world
 Witness (testimony) of holy men and women
 Context for the theological answers that have been developed
and taught by the Church
 Often, can’t appreciate the answer without knowing the question
 Example: Jesus Christ whom we confess as one person with two
 God’s plan of salvation unfolds in history
 History is an aspect of theology, Providence

Pilgrim Church
 The Pilgrim Church is moving toward her celestial home
at the end of time
 Individual members as members of the society of the
 The Pilgrim Church is in the world but not of the world
 Martyrs
 Political entanglements
 The Pilgrim Church is not a church of the pure
 Sinful members
 Political entanglements
 History helps us to understand where the Church has
been so far on her pilgrimage

Structure for Course
 Course covers Church History from Pentecost
through late Middle Ages
 Divide semester into four parts
 Antiquity, especially late antiquity (100 – 604)
 Rise of Islam and Charlemagne (612 – 900)
 Early Middle Ages (900 – 1225)
 Late Middle Ages (1225 – 1415)

 Class attendance and active participation.
 Papers and discussion on primary source readings three times during semester at
conclusion of each Part
 Papers should be 1-2 pages
 Theme of thesis statement
 Presentation once during the semester
 Small group assignment
 Focus on how PRIMARY SOURCE readings impact Church today in, for example, CCC, Liturgy, VII
documents, recent encyclicals, etc.
 Two Exams:
 Midterm will cover first half of semester (closed book)
 Final will cover second half of semester (closed book)
 Both midterm and final will include matching quotes to primary source authors; identification of
terms and people; geography identification (midterm only)
 Grade:
 1/3 papers and discussion, presentation
 1/3 midterm
 1/3 final

Texts for Class
 1. Modern text (secondary source) recommended
text from list in syllabus
 James Hitchcock, History of the Catholic Church: From the
Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium is strongly
 2. Augustine, City of God, available at or
Dyson translation (Cambridge University Press, 1998)
 3. Many primary sources available on web, see
syllabus for details

Web Site for Class
 Several files
 Word file of syllabus
 Web file (html) with links to web primary
readings; other background resources of interest;
 Basic map of key historical regions (large pdf file)
 Lecture slides; posted day after each lecture, in a
folder called Lectures; PowerPoint format

 Primary Source: original works from the historical period under study
 Secondary Source: later works written about earlier historical periods or works
 Primary Source readings are FOCUS in class
 Different, multiple sources each week; should be focus of papers and presentations
 Reference ancient works using Book/Chapter/Paragraph numbering (e.g., Luke 1:1-4)
 Most are available on the web; URL provided in syllabus and web site
 Read everything critically (includes secondary sources)
 What is author’s perspective
 Bokenkotter: late 20th C American Catholic
 Orlando: early 21st C American Catholic
 What issues is the author addressing;
 How important is the historical circumstance to those issues
 Who is the audience
 What is genre of the work (homily, thesis, poem, letter, Biblical commentary,
 Caution using Web Resources
 Anybody can put anything on the web and claim that it is ‘authoritative’
 Many ancient works, especially early Church Fathers, are available, but in older
 Maintenance of a web resource is still on an individual basis; no guarantee that
information will be well maintained
Difficulty of Primary Source
 I know that this is a lot of material
 I know that it is often very difficult to read
 Therefore
 At the end of each class I will strongly suggest what should
be read carefully, and what should be skimmed
 I will try to point out key themes
 It will serve you well to bring the next weeks’ readings with
 Remember when referring to primary source use
Book.Chapter.Paragraph; NOT page number
 Would you refer to a Biblical passage by page number??
Marking Sacred and Secular
Time: B.C. and A.D.
 Almost all journals and books in the last
20 years have gone to BCE and CE
 BCE = Before the Common Era
 CE = Common Era
 I stubbornly hold on to B.C. and A.D.

Historical Eras or Periods…
 Are arbitrary fictions of later historians
 All historians have an agenda
 But are convenient ways to arrange historical material.
 Periods usually marked by some dramatic change causing a
disruption in the ‘old’ order
 But even dramatic changes do not change all of society all at once
 Commonly referred to eras:
 Antiquity
 Late Antiquity
 Early middle (dark) ages
 Middle Ages
 Renaissance
 Reformation
 Early Modernity
 Enlightenment

Important Concepts in
 Actually concepts that will be unchallenged
until the Enlightenment
 There is no separation of Religion and State
 Limited concept of individual rights –
emphasis on individual duties
 The antiquity of something was a direct
measure of its value
 Prophecy is not predicting the future like
magic; it is more like cause and effect
 Recommended
 Hitchcock, Introduction
 Review rubric for essay papers