CLAS 501B - Early Christian Literature: Latin Texts

Early Christian and late antique literatures document one of the most significant periods of the human past. This period witnessed and helped to inaugurate the gradual transformation of classical society, government, and religion into three distinct cultures: the Medieval West, Byzantine, and Islamic. The western Mediterranean formed a European, Christian society made up of distinct European nations. In the eastern Mediterranean, the Roman Empire continued as the "Byzantine Empire," and the seventh century saw the birth of another major world religion, Islam, along with the Islamic caliphate. Early Christian and late antique literatures are characterized by a rich interdisciplinarity, but the social, religious, and political impact of Christianity is at the core of the Latin literature of this period. One particular focus of the course will be the "conflict" between Christian and pagan Latin literature -- the problem of how to reconcile the literary inheritance of the pagan past with the Christian present. The texts of Tertullian and Jerome are the loci classici for the discussion of Christian attitudes to pagan literature and culture, a theme we will address first in their texts and then in all subsequent readings. Although our course will include source readings from the wider Latin West (e.g. North Africa and Gaul), our focus will be upon the dramatic transformation of fourth-century Rome into the Primatial See of the Catholic Church and the destination of religious pilgrimage -- the new Jerusalem. Graduate-level requirements include a ten-page research paper or instructional module. Alternatively, a graduate-level translation of Latin texts may be an option with the approval of the instructor.

Also Offered As
Grade Basis
Student Option ABCDE/PF