This initial module focuses on the formative centuries of the early church, often designated “Ancient Christianity.” The module begins with the apostolic experience and ends with the impact and aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon (451 C.E.), with some concluding considerations regarding the end of Ancient Christianity. It was during these early centuries that Christianity grew from a small Jewish messianic faith community to be the majority religion of the Roman Empire – and beyond. Module 1 includes early African geography, social history, economics, the nature of religion in the ancient world, gender relations and status, related ancient history and culture, (i.e., Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Ethiopian, Egyptian, Berber, Nubian), the African memory of Mark, and the occurrence of the first martyrdoms (such as that at Scilli).
Module 4 presents an investigation and analysis of the key theological questions, issues, and figures connected with Carthage and its vicinity: Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, Augustine, Quodvultdeus, Donatism, Pelagianism, councils, conflicts, the sacraments, the Church. Though principally an intensive reading module of primary sources in translation, this module also covers the North African Jewish community, the Vandals, Byzantines, and Berbers, the Islamic conquest, the survival of Christianity under Islamic rule, and North African connections to the larger Mediterranean and Sub‐Saharan African worlds.
You write a solid MA Thesis of ca. 20.000 words. This shows whether you have the academic knowledge of the subject you write your thesis about.
Or you do a Practicum. This practicum focuses upon answering a central question: what is the continuing relevance and enduring importance of Early African Christian Studies for the 21st century? In this module, ethical issues related to poverty and wealth, war and military service, gender, issues of human sexuality, marriage and family, capital punishment, slavery and human trafficking, and the relation between church and society are examined from the perspective of the early African church. Other topics in module 6 include: the African fathers interpreted in a European context; the African fathers interpreted in an African-American context; the African fathers interpreted in an African context. The PRACTICUM may includes a travel component: students may want to visit key sites in a variety of locales: possibilities include Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Ethiopia.
Module 2 presents a text-based analysis of the biblical exegesis of key African exegetes such as Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Tyconius, Athanasius, Augustine, and Quodvultdeus. Topics will include various interpretations of Genesis, the Song of Songs, and the Gospel of John, as well as how early Christian interpretation of the Bible relates to classical culture. Selections from the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (29 volumes, InterVarsity Press, Thomas C. Oden, General Editor, Christopher A. Hall, Associate Editor) will be extensively utilized. Students will gain an appreciation for the complexity of early Christian biblical interpretation and an understanding of how the Bible came to serve as the foundation of Western culture.
Module 5 presents to students an investigation and analysis of desert monasticism: Evagrius Ponticus, Athanasius and Antony, the desert fathers and mothers: their sayings and practices, the pilgrimage of Egeria, John Cassian, and monasticism within the Coptic Church. Module readings draw on primary sources including saints' lives, rules and customaries, liturgies, scriptural commentaries, handbooks of spiritual advice, prayers and other devotional treatises, histories and chronicles. In addition, the module investigates the shaping effect of African monasticism on the development of Christian spirituality and theology beyond a specifically African context. The module also explores the role of key female leaders in the rise of monasticism in an African context.
The complete Master’s program consists of six modules of 32 credit hours in total. The program can be completed in two-five years.
New students must do Module 1 to begin with. After that, the sequence in which the modules 2, 3, 4 and 5 are taken is not important. Module 6 is the last one to be done, as that entails the writing of the major paper.
Students have to finish the modules 2-6 within 5 years after starting module 1. In theory it is possible to do the modules 3-6 in about 18 months year, but that means almost full time study.
Module 3 presents an investigation and analysis of the key theological questions, issues, and figures connected with Alexandria and the Nile Valley: logos theology, Christological & Trinitarian controversies, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius, Didymus the Blind, and Cyril of Alexandria. Students will study the development of Nile Valley Christianity and its significance within the broad historical framework of what is considered Ancient Christianity.