Between classical and medieval, pagan and Christian, Rome and Constantinople, the late antique world was marked by transition. In this module we will survey important moments in the transformation of the Roman Empire into a Christian empire. From its birth, Christianity was in close contact with a polytheist world. What does it mean, then, to talk about pagans and Christians? How did Christianity transform and how was it transformed by the ancient intellectual and cultural traditions of the preceding cultures? We will look at elements of continuity and peace as well as change and conflict, revealing the complex story of the foundations of orthodoxy in the Christian church. Topics ranging from the conversion of Constantine, Christian responses to philosophy, and developments in education will be covered. Focus will placed on reading key original texts in translation (or, optionally, in Latin).
Students will read written materials thoughtfully and formulate significant questions based on the readings. They will also develop critical thinking skills, practice argumentative writing, as well as learn to recognize and evaluate different types of evidence. These skills will be applied in a final paper based on close readings of ancient texts. The module will be helpful in preparing for any history, language, theology, or philosophy courses at the undergraduate level.