The Roots of the Christian Religion

This is a class on the history of the church from 65-315AD.  Our goal is to investigate the roots and formation of the Christian faith as we know it.  Some classes will be lectures while others will be discussions.  Besides posting the audio, this webpage will also be a resource for handouts and texts that we use in class.

Part 1: Backstory of the Faith

The Introduction (1/14/18)

A Summary of Church History (1/21/18) - this video and timeline were referenced in class.  Other documents mentioned will be posted on later weeks.

The Persecutions (1/28/18) - see document of persecutions. 

The Controversies (2/4/18) - see document of controversies.

Arianism vs Modalism (2/18/18) - this is a second week on the controversies.  

The Timeline Discussed (2/25/18) - see document of the timeline from 65-315AD.

Part 2: Geography of the Faith

The Church in Jerusalem (3/4/18) - These links provide Bart Erhman's intro to, and fragments of, the Gospel of the Hebrews and also Erhman's intro to the Gospel of the Nazareans, which we read in class.  These intros are published in Erhman's book, Lost Scriptures.

The Church in Rome (3/11/18) - Pliny's correspondence with Trajan is the document that we read in class.  The book recommendation at the end is The Lost Letters of Pergamum.

The Church in Alexandria (3/25/18) - We spent a good while describing Athanasius' biography of St Anthony, the book we mention that contains the bio is Early Christian Lives.

Part 3: Scriptures of the Faith

Self-Attestation & Conciousness (4/8/18) - What did New Testament authors think they were doing when they were writing?

The Manuscripts of Scripture (4/15/18) - How were the New Testament letters collected and trasmitted throughout history?

The Troublesome Books of Scripture (4/22/18) - Which books had a hard time getting included in the New Testament canon?

The Rejected Books of Scripture (4/29/18) - What about the books that didn't make it? We started the class with a discussion of the Old Testament Apocrypha then discussed this document that has various ancient lists of New Testament books. We finished class by reading and discussing this document (which containts excerpts from the Infancy Narrative, Gospel of Thomas, and Epistle of Barnabas).

Part 4: Writings of the Faith

The Martyrdom of Polycarp (5/13/18) - we read exerpts from this ancient work and discussed it. 

Ancient Christian Worship (5/20/18) - this document includes excerpts from The Didache and from a work by Hippolytus.

Ancient Christian Preaching (5/27/18 unrecorded) - we read and discussed a document entitled 2nd Clement. Though the document was not written by Clement, most scholars agree that it is a sermon from the early 100's. That would make it one of the oldest sermons we have outside of those contained in the New Testament.

Ancient Critics (6/3/18) - Celsus was a critic of the faith and wrote a book against it in 170. We discussed excerpts and summaries from the book Christians as the Romans Saw Them. You can read Origen's rebuttal of Celsus here.

The Normal Christian Life (6/10/18) - In these excerpts we discovered how Christians related to the culture of the Roman Empire, in everything from laughter to shoes.



First of all, much of the literature, characters, and history of the earliest church is shrouded in mystery.  The statements made in this study will often bounce between the consensus views, the tradional views, and in some cases the critical views.  Our goal is to acheive an understanding of our religion in a compelling format.  Not all comments will be properly nuanced or referenced since to do so would bury the listener in minutia.  

Secondly, this is a Sunday School class and our recordings are intended for those who missed our discussion.  Our preaching ministry is the formal stance and voice of our church while Sunday School is a family discussion that might not always be perfectly right or might be somehow less suitable for all situations.  It should be listened to with that in mind.