18 August 2018
History of Christianity
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.
The course begins with a historical, theological, and literary overview of the 16th century and an exploration of the roots of Reformation ideas in England and Bohemia. Luther´s biography and main theses are presented as well as the connections between the Humanist movement, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. Based on Martin Luther´s writings and thoughts, the course then explores several aspects of Reformation ideas, exposing how historical transformation of society was wrought or ignited by the Reformation. Each of these sessions gives an overview of Reformation-related literature, explores the historical setting, and discusses the processes of transformation in society. Two excursions help to visualize the main issues of the course: The exhibition “Luther Effect” deals with main aspects of the Reformation and its impact on early modern societies; the trip to the city of Wittenberg offers the possibility to gain an insight into this important place of German Reformation history.
At the end of the course, participants will know the basics of Reformation history in Germany and have gained a sufficient range of knowledge to be able to explore and discuss the societal processes that began with the Reformation era and (perhaps) still shape our age.
Anna Luise Klafs
This course is open to students from all disciplines and levels of study.
Short Reports: 40%
EUR 1100: Tuition
EUR 250: Program Fee