The course provides a glimpse into the science of the study of God through the exploration of the thought of selected theologians and scripture. Students will learn how to read and interpret various genres of theological texts from different historical eras, including the Old Testament, the New Testament, the early Church, the Middle Ages, the Reformation era, the period of the Second Vatican Council, and the present time. By engaging these texts through discussion, research, and writing, students will gain an introductory grasp of the academic discipline of theology.
The early Christian understanding of martyrdom appeared in the second century and deepened quickly in nascent Christian communities. This course examines the earliest works -- from the first through the early fourth century, and in differing cultures -- to portray the sufferings and triumphs of Christian "witnesses" in conflict with the imperial regime of Rome. It considers the influence of earlier literary genres (letters, biographies, and other documentary sources) in the development of an ideal Christian spiritual life and death in imitation of the passion of Christ, visible in accounts of women and men alike. The class will read primary sources and recent scholarly discussions.