28353 - History of Christianity (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students are familiar with sources interpretation processes and with the history of christianity in a diachronical perspective. Students will have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the role played by christianity in the cultural history and its position among other religions.

Course contents

"God's Defeat"

The course owes its title to a famous essay in which Sergio Quinzio, in 1992, harshly condensed some of his reflections on a fundamental theological and Christological knot, whose long-term roots lie in the problem of the deus patiens and the kenotic nature of the Christian God.

The approach to the issue is historical-religious and strongly diachronic: starting from the scriptural sources, we will reach the contemporary era, passing, however, through an author fundamental to the development of Christian theology, i.e. Clement of Alexandria, who represents a paradigmatic case study for the theme we seek to focus on.

The following topics will be covered during the class:

  • Some historical and historiographical problems of early Christianity;
  • Clement of Alexandria: his thought and "philosophy";
  • The development of Christological reflection;
  • "Taking evil seriously"


Syllabus for attending students 

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending. Classes will start on sept. 18th.

Attending students shall study:

  • One text chosen from:

    Quis dives salvetur: Quale ricco si salverà, ed. Bianco M. G., Città Nuova, Rome 1999.

    Il Protrettico, ed. Migliore F., «Collana Testi Patristici» 179, Città Nuova, Rome 2004.

    Il Pedagogo, ed. Tessore D., «Collana Testi Patristici» 181, Città Nuova, Rome 2005.

  • The following essays:

    Rizzi M., Introduzione, in Clemente di Alessandria. Stromati. Note di vera filosofia, ed. Pini G. - Rizzi M., Milan 2006, pp. VII-LXXXI; 

    Dainese D., La femminilità del Padre. Note a margine di Q.d.s. 36-37, in Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum, in Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 56 (2013), pp. 40-50;

  • One of the following books:

Either D. Dainese, Pane celeste, pane terreno, Roma 2021;

or G. Lercaro, Per la forza dello spirito, Bologna 2014, or C. Lorefice, Dossetti e Lercaro, Milano 2011.


Non-attending students shall also study one of the following books:

D. Dainese, Passibilità divina, Roma 2012;

M. Benfatto, Gesù frainteso, Roma 2022;

D. Bonhoeffer, Resistenza e resa, Brescia 2002.

Teaching methods

Lecture; historical-critical analysis of primary sources. Attendance is not necessary, but attendance will be helpful in assimilating the content that will later be the subject of examination (written or oral, cf. “assessment methods” section).

Assessment methods

As already mentioned, only students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending. Nevertheless, attendance/not to the class will not affect the exam (except for the bibliography differences see section "readings/bibliography" above). 

Students will have two exam possibilities: either the classic oral exam or an essay of 20 pages written in Italian.

The oral examination will be based on the reading/comments of the sources and on the critical literature and cannot be divided into two successive times. Assessment will be carried out on both the capacity to read ancient texts (also in Italian translation) and specific knowledge of the history of Christianity. Students will be called upon to prove their mastery of specific vocabulary and the knowledge of diachronic data (dates and historical events). The following are examples of potential questions (to be understood as merely a general allusion to a much broader spectrum of questions): “Read and comment the following passage”, “Who was Clement of Alexandria?”, “What are the main features of the mystical theology in Early Christianity?”

The use of notes, books, dictionaries is not allowed during the exam.

Candidates will be interviewed according to the enrollment list of the app "Almaesami".

In terms of the essay, students who opt for this solution must consider that it involves a 20-page paper that must be written in Italian. It must regard one of the issues of the course or a historiographic problem raised during the lessons. In this case, a more specific bibliography will be indicated. The paper must be sent at least one week before the exam.

Assessment scale:

Excellent (with possibility attribution of honors in the case of originality), i.e. 30 and 30L: the attainment of an organic vision of the issues presented during the lessons and their critical use that demonstrates a mastery of content and technical vocabulary.

Average, i.e. 25-29: Mnemonic knowledge and only partially accurate use of technical vocabulary.

Sufficient, i.e. 18-24: Minimal knowledge of the issues (dates and names), without serious errors.

Insufficient: absence of minimum requirements of ‘sufficient’ assessment.

Teaching tools

Multimedia materials (iconographic sources) and lesson notes

Office hours

See the website of Davide Dainese


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