Rise of Christianity to 600 CE

Rise of Christianity to 600 CE

THL131 (Bachelor of Theology) and THL410 (Graduate Certificate in Theology) is being taught at United Theological College in 2018 Session 1 on Tuesday mornings by Damian Palmer.

The subject is an identified scholarship subject with UTC in 2018.  For more information about our UCA scholarships please contact [email protected]

This foundation subject introduces students to skills appropriate to studying church history, including the use and analysis of early sources, both written and non-written, and later historical interpretations. It encompasses the contributions of the Apostolic Fathers and early Christian Apologists, and explores early challenges to the Christian movement from within and without. Close attention is given to church-state relations and the formulation of Christian theology by prominent theologians and significant councils, especially those convened at Nicaea and Chalcedon. The subject also examines early Christian monasticism, issues of ethnicity and gender, mission and the claims of the Bishop of Rome to supremacy. Consistent attention is given to understanding the broader context of the Graeco-Roman world in which Christianity developed.

Call UTC to enrol for courses in 2018.
Phone 02 8838 8914
Office Hours: 9 am – 5 pm (Mon – Fri)

2018 UTC Education Prospectus – Downloadable PDF (2MB)

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of principal movements in theology, ecclesiology and politics in the Christian Church prior to 600 CE
  • be able to demonstrate knowledge of primary source documents from this period
  • be able to demonstrate understanding of methods of historical study
  • be able to demonstrate an ability to use contemporary documents in making judgements about the past and in testing the judgements of others
  • be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of Christians who lived in different times, cultures and with different worldviews
  • be able to assess critically historians’ interpretations of early church history
  • be able to demonstrate self-guided and collaborative learning, including research, writing and communication skills


The subject will cover the following topics:

  • using the texts of the Apostolic Fathers, Christian apologists and their opponents to test and support claims made about the past
  • the impact on churches of Graeco-Roman culture, Roman imperial power and Judaism
  • Docetism, Gnosticism, other ‘heresies’ and the ‘rule of faith’: the work of Christian apologists before 250 CE
  • the persecution of Christians: causes and effects on churches before 325 CE
  • Church and empire: Constantine’s revolution and its legacy
  • Donatism, Arianism, the Council of Nicaea and its aftermath
  • church and emperor in West and East: a comparison of Ambrose and John Chrysostom
  • early Christian monasticism
  • the careers and writings of Origen, Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers, Jerome and Augustine
  • the Council of Chalcedon and its significance for Eastern and Western Christianity
  • Leo the Great and the growing claim to supremacy of the Bishop of Rome
  • issues of ethnicity and gender in the early church

Subject Enrolment Enquiry Session 1

Subject Enrolment Enquiry for Session 1 at UTC - for fully paid or audit enrolments.