REL 150D-A03, Christian Tradition, Double, Course Syllabus

LaSalle University, Spring 04

Class Meetings: TTh 9:30-11:45 a.m., Wister #313


Instructor: Sister Roseanne McDougall S.H.C.J., Ed. D.

Office Location: McShain #203                                         Hours: MWF 12-1:30 p.m. and by appointment

Telephone: 215-951-1343                                                    E-mail:


COURSE DESCRIPTION: A survey of the complex development of Christianity from a small, Jewish apocalyptic movement to a diverse, 21st century world religion.


As such it is an introduction to the varieties of Christianity—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant—and is taught from an ecumenical perspective. As a multidisciplinary course, it shows how Christianity both shapes and is shaped by its ambient cultures.


Five core topics will be addressed: Jesus and the New Testament Traditions, Ancient Christology, Church History (the rise of “eastern” and “western” Christian tradition), the beginnings of the Reformation, and Worship (e.g., baptism, the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist, liturgy). 3 credits. No pre-requisites.


This course is taught as a “double” with History 151, with an effort to probe the emerging interdisciplinary aspects.


COURSE FOCUS: Christians believe that Jesus lived, suffered, died and was raised to new life for their justification and salvation, so that they might attain eternal life.


Christians believe that Jesus was both human and Christ the Son of God.


Christians believe that Jesus Christ invites all people: to believe in His divinity and teaching, to love God and their neighbors, and to hope in Jesus’ promises through their just actions towards those in need.


Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter as special liturgical feasts, which commemorate Jesus’ becoming human, living, suffering, dying, and rising from the dead for their justification; some Christians respond to the Love contained in these mysteries with hope and with a love which expresses itself in action for justice.


Since the early days of the Church, Christians have nourished their faith through proclamation of the scriptures, reception of the sacraments, and belief in the presence of grace in their lives. The Church was both a local community of life and worship and a spreading missionary community zealous to proclaim the message of salvation. Those with authority in the Church have interacted with Church members in dynamics marked at times by creativity and at times by tension.



  1. To engage in critical thinking, discussion and writing about primary sources in the Christian Tradition with a view to probing foundations of the Tradition up to the year 1500.
  2. To develop interdisciplinary links between the Christian Tradition and Global History up through  the year 1500.



Holy Bible

Ralph Keen, The Christian Tradition, 2004.


CALENDAR, TTh 9:30 a.m., all references are to the Keen text unless otherwise noted:


The Beginnings of Christianity

T 13        Course overview, Jesus’ historical reality

Th 15      Intertestamental period, 21-34


T 20        The Hebrew Bible, 35-39; Early Christian Writings, 39-44

Th 22      Beginnings of Thinking about Christian Faith, 45-51; Origen, “On the Image of God” (handout)


T 27        Before Constantine: Persecution, 53-59.

Th 29      Museum


T 03        During, After Constantine: Acceptance, Establishment, 59-66.

Th 05      The Eucharist, 72-75. PAPER ONE IS DUE TODAY.


Christianity in Late Antiquity

T 10        Religion Readings 1, then History Readings 1

Th 12      Order: The Papacy, Leo I and Gregory I, 82-86; Teachings on Mary and on Virginity, 95-98


T 17        Charisma: Monasticism, 102-115, including John Cassian and Benedict, 106-107

12:30 The Catholic Nature of A University, G. Dennis O’Brien, Ph.D.

Th 19      Discuss: The Catholic Nature of A University and mid-term exam.


T 24        Missionary Outreach, 116-126, including Boniface, 122-123        PAPER TWO IS DUE TODAY.

Th 26      Religion Readings 2, then History Readings 2


Christianity in the Middle Ages: Scholasticism

T 09        Scholasticism, including Anselm and Peter Lombard, 142-148

Th 11      Guest Presenter


T 16        Aristotle’s Influence and Thomas Aquinas, 148-153, 178-179

Th 18      Grace and the Sacraments, 181-186


T 23        Video; PAPER THREE IS DUE TODAY.

Th 25      Religion Readings 3, then History Readings 3


Christianity in the Middle Ages: Mendicants and Mystics

T 30        Francis of Assisi and Dominic Guzman, 165-173

Th 1        Popular Religious Movements, 173-175


T 06        Mysticism, 187-191; PAPER FOUR IS DUE TODAY.

Th 08      Museum




T 13        Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich, 191-194

Th 15      Margery Kempe, 195-196


T 20        Religion Readings 4, then History Readings 4

Th 22      Final exam preparation; PAPER FIVE IS DUE TODAY.


April 26-30 Final Examination Week

All students are expected to take the final examination as scheduled by the registrar’s office.





Session 1, February 10                                                        Session 2, February 26

                Group 1, Keen 27,28                                                             Group 1, Keen 84

                Group 2, Keen 30, 32                                                            Group 2, Keen 96

                Group 3, Keen 38, 40                                                            Group 3, Keen 106

                Group 4, Origen (handout) and Keen 56-57                     Group 4, Keen 107

                Group 5, Keen 58, 60-61                                                      Group 5, Keen 122-123


Session 3, March 25                                                            Session 4, April 20

                Group 1, Keen 144                                                                Group 1, Keen 168

                Group 2, Lombard (handout)                                              Group 2, Keen 174

                Group 3, Aquinas (handout)                                              Group 3, Keen 192

                Group 4, Aquinas (handout)                                              Group 4, Keen 194

                Group 5, Aquinas (handout)                                              Group 5, Keen 195-196


WRITING: There will be five graded two-page papers, each of which is due on one of the following dates: February 5 and 24, March 23, and April 6 and 22. Specific directions will be given in class. There will also be ungraded writing assignments which are to be completed as part of the course requirement.


INTERVIEW WITH THE PROFESSOR: Each student is expected to make and keep an appointment with the professor during the month of February. The aim of the appointment is to have an “early course progress interview” in which you acquaint the professor with your goals and raise questions about the course. It is also an opportunity to gain an insight into the professor’s expectations, and ascertain how the professor can be of service to you both now and possibly in the future



  1. All reading and writing assignments, including ungraded writing, are due on the date assigned.
  2. Only in exceptional cases may a missed quiz or exam be “made up.” It is the instructor’s prerogative to permit a “make-up,” and then only with grave reason and written supportive documentation from appropriate authority. “Make-ups,” if there are any, will be scheduled by the instructor at mid-semester and at the end of the semester.
  3. Coming late to class is equivalent to one-third of an absence. It is permitted to take up to three absences from class; more than three absences could result in academic penalty. An absence is an absence, whether it is for a family matter, a medical situation, athletics, a legal reason, work, academics, or the simple need to take a little break. While an absence is an absence, documentation from an appropriate authority for a necessary reason will be kept on file.
  4. Presence, preparedness, and spoken participation are very important criteria for evaluating course mastery. They assume a university level approach to the curriculum.
  5. Written papers, when requested, are expected to be legible, with correct spelling and grammar. Typed papers are to be completed in the assigned format, again with correct spelling and grammar.
  6. Assignments are ordinarily due on the date assigned unless the instructor indicates otherwise.
  7. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: “Each member of the LaSalle University community has a responsibility to foster an environment which promotes intellectual honesty and integrity, and which does not tolerate misconduct in any aspect of research or scholarly endeavor. A copy of the complete Policy on Research Misconduct can be obtained from the Office of the Provost on the third floor of the Administration Center.” (LaSalle University Student Handbook, 1988-1999 p. 14.) Students who violate the LaSalle University Policy on Research Misconduct are subject to academic penalty, including the possibility of receiving a final course grade of “F”.



Presence, preparedness for class                      05 points               

Spoken participation in class                             05 points

Spontaneous quizzes, pass/fail                         05 points

Two two-page papers                                         10 points

Interview with the professor                              05 points

Mid-term exam                                                      10 points

Joint work in the double                                     10 points


March -April

Presence, preparedness for class                      05 points

Spoken participation in class                             05 points

Spontaneous quizzes, pass/fail                         05 points

Three two-page papers                                       15 points

Final exam                                                              10 points

Joint work in the double                                     10 points

Total                                                                  100 points




A             92-100                                                     C             72-77                      

A-           90-91                                                       C-            70-71                      

B+           85-89                                                       D+           68-69      

B             82-84                                                       D             65-67

B-            80-81                                                       F              below 65

C+           78-79      


Numerical points are a guide to the final grade. Every single criterion is to be met satisfactorily. When reviewing each student’s final accumulation of points the instructor will reflect upon the question: Does this person truly deserve the equivalent letter grade? For what reasons? As a result of this reflection, the instructor will then assign a final grade for the three academic credits achieved during the course of the semester.