Spring 2022

Becoming Christian in the Ancient World

Listed in: Religion, as RELI-174


Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos (Section 01)


As of 2015, 2.3 billion people—over 31% of the world’s population—identified as Christian (according to the Pew Research Center). But this population includes remarkable diversity, and what “looks Christian” in one region does not necessarily “look Christian” in another. How can one tell what religion someone is? What does it mean to become or to identify as Christian? And who gets to decide what “authentic” Christianity is? This course approaches these questions by looking to the past: by studying the origins of Christianity and its spread from a small part of the eastern Mediterranean to North Africa, Europe, and Asia from the late second through seventh century C.E. We will explore the development and variety of Christian groups within their historical contexts, including their religious, political, and social circumstances. Topics will include martyrdom, pilgrimage, material religion (including relics), monasticism, theological disputes, and religious conflict. 

Spring semester. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Survey course. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Early Christianity: A Brief HIstory Oxford University Press, 2009 Press Lynch, Joseph Required Amherst Books TBD
After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity100-300 Oxford University Press; 2nd ed., 2014 Ehrman, Bart D. Required Amherst Books TBD
Christianity in Late Antiquity; 300-450 C.E. Oxford Univeristy Press Ehrman, Bart; Jacobs, Andrew Required Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022