Early Christian Studies: Desert Christians & the Literature of Early Monasticism

Dit vak wordt in het Engels aangeboden. Omschrijvingen kunnen daardoor mogelijk alleen in het Engels worden weergegeven.

Doel vak

Knowledge of a broad range of early Christian texts, such as
hagiographical writings, histories, sayings & anecdotes, and tractates.
The ability to situate these texts in their proper contexts both in a
historical and a literary sense.
For students who have a knowledge of classical Greek and/or Latin: the
ability to translate the original sources of the texts discussed and the
ability to analyze these. For students with no knowledge of classical
languages: the ability to read the appropriate texts in translation with
a view to analyzing these.

Apart from the ability to gain knowledge as described above and the
ability to apply this knowledge, additional objectives are: the ability
to communicate acquired knowledge in the context of the seminar (by
giving a presentation), to ask
critical questions, and to participate actively in discussions.

Inhoud vak

Title: Desert Christians & the Literature of Early Monasticism.

During this course, the book "Desert Christians: An Introduction to the
Literature of Early Monasticism" by William Harmless (2004) will be
studied. After an introduction into fourth and fifth century Egypt, the
most significant sources of desert Christianity will be addressed. We
will start by reading narrative texts about desert saints such as Antony
and Pachomius. Then, we will listen to the voice of the desert fathers
(and a few mothers) as mediated by collections of sayings (the so-called
Apophthegmata Patrum). Next, we will reflect on the genre of ‘history’
(historia). Finally, we will consider texts produced by theologians such
as Evagrius of Pontus and John Cassian. The latter was an important
figure in the history of western monasticism: he functioned as a link
between East and West, translating the predominantly Greek sources of
the desert traditions into the Latin of the western church. By reading
both primary sources and secondary literature, students will gain
insight into an important movement within early Christianity, namely
asceticism/monasticism. The handbook includes many useful appendices
that reflect current scholarly research and debate.

As part of the course, students will watch a DVD about the History of
Early Christianity, followed by discussion. If possible, an excursion
will be included in the course; for example, an exhibition will be
visited. (In recent years the following exhibitions were visited:
Constantine's Dream in the Nieuwe Kerk and Crossroads in the Allard
Pierson Museum; both situated in the centre of Amsterdam).

In the context of this course, the dimension of internationalisation
will be emphasized in two ways: 1) the course will be taught in English
and welcomes students from abroad, 2) attention is paid to the
international context of Early Christian Studies. During this course the
instructor will also focus explicitly on doing research in the field of
ancient asceticism & monasticism.




Presentation (30% of grade); written or oral examination (depending on
group size; 70% of grade)


William Harmless, Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature
of Early Monasticism (Oxford University Press, 2004)


Students of Classics, History, Theology, Religion. Students interested
in Early Christian Greek & Latin, Early Christianity, late antiquity.

Overige informatie

Attendance is compulsory (80%).

Aanbevolen voorkennis

Basic knowledge of (early) Christianity and the Bible is useful, but not
necessary for this course

Algemene informatie

Vakcode L_XCBAGLT304
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode P4+5
Vakniveau 300
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
Vakcoördinator dr. N.M. Vos
Examinator dr. N.M. Vos
Docenten dr. N.M. Vos

Praktische informatie

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