Course Summary

Understanding the early church

The course is an analysis of the sources that reveal the history and nature of the church from its inception in about 29 C.E. to the end of its fifth decade, 79 C.E. It deals with events that surrounded the formation of the church, the essential theological concepts contained in New Testament documents, and responsible application of the content found in the New Testament. 5 semester hours of undergraduate credit.


Module 1--Classify the relationship among the key people, places, events, and institutions listed in the syllabus.

Module 2--Identify key concepts addressed in early Christian writings.

Module 3--Identify disputed issues faced by early Christians, such as Gentile conversion, Judaizing teachers, and relations with civil and religious authorities.

Module 4--Compare the theological significance of practices such as almsgiving, baptism, fasting, and prayer.

Module 5--Explain the significance of the roles of apostles, elders, deacons, prophets, and teachers, and the implication of these functions beyond the 1st century.

Credit. The course grade is calculated as the average of five multiple choice examinations, on which the student has scored a minimum of 70% on each exam. However, the credit may be applied toward the B.R.S. degree only if the student scores a "pass" on five sets of activities, 25 forum postings, a research paper, and a synopsis of textbook readings. A sample exam problem is given below:

A unique characteristic of the God who reveals himself in the New Testament is his (A) distance from mankind, (B) identification with mankind through Jesus, (C) plurality, (D) association with a specific place.

Resources. The course
syllabus, a Bible, and the following textbooks:

Ferguson, Everett. The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997. 463 pages. $25.97 ISBN: 978-0802841896

McKechnie, Paul. The First Christian Centuries: Perspectives on the Early Church. IVP Academic, 2002. 270 pages. $23.07 ISBN: 978-0830826773