My fall semester class on Early Church History started tonight. My prof is very enthusiastic: this is her favorite period of history and her favorite class to teach. So that should be fun! We have 12 people in the class, from a wide variety of Christian traditions, at various places in our degree programs.
For this class, I will be writing two 6-7 page papers. They can be on any topic that can be explored in the context of the first five centuries of Christianity for which there is primary source material available. (And she’ll work with us to find primary sources.)
So that’s a wide open field, and I’m taking suggestions. Is there something you’ve always been curious about? Convince me it’s really interesting, and maybe I’ll research it for you. 🙂
Some ideas I have so far:
– the development of the doctrine of original sin. (Was this really all Augustine’s idea, or was he building on ideas that were floating around?)
– the decision that the ordained bishops, rather than the “confessors” who survived persecution at the hands of the Romans without renouncing the faith or handing over church books or properties, exercised leadership in the church. (I’ve wondered since first learning about this controversy whether that decision didn’t go the wrong way.)
– the development of the sacrificial and/or scapegoat understanding of the crucifixion
– the extent to which Constantine influenced the Christian canon. (In Phyllis Tickle’s talks at the NBS conference, she asserted that Constantine provided a list to
Irenaeus Eusebius of the books he wanted in the canon. I’d never heard that before.)
Any other ideas?