00938 - History of Christianity

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Gender equality Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide the indispensable foundations for a knowledge of the ecclesiastical and religious history of Europe in its most original and dynamic aspects (doctrines, institutions, rituals, vectors and communication processes) and in relation to other major religious cultures of the ancient and medieval world until the evangelization of the New World. At the end of the course, the student will possess the methodological tools for the proper evaluation and critical use of Italian and European cultural heritage regarding archaeology, history, art, literature, archives and libraries , especially in relation to the crucial role of production and documentary-monumental transmission played by ecclesiastical institutions and major religious orders.

Course contents

In addition to providing the tools and institutional knowledge necessary to take the exam, the course also includes a seminar module on the topic The Debt and the Grace. Christianity and Economics. In addition to the bibliography indicated in point B (Monographs) of the Readings/Bibliography section, more specific indications and materials (source scanning) relating to the seminar module will be provided during the lessons and made available to students attending the course through the Virtual Learning Environment page of the course together with the sources referenced during the lectures.


A) Handbooks (only the chapters indicated here for each of the following volumes):

Storia del cristianesimo, I. L'età antica (secoli I-VII), a cura di E. Prinzivalli, Roma, Carocci, 2015: chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15.

Storia del cristianesimo, II. L'età medievale (secoli VIII-XV), a cura di M. Benedetti, Roma, Carocci, 2015: chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16.

Alternatively, one of the following handbooks can be chosen:

G. L. Potestà - G. Vian, Storia del cristianesimo, n. ed. Bologna, il Mulino, 2014;

R. Rusconi, Storia del cristianesimo e delle Chiese. Dalle origini ai giorni nostri, Brescia, Morcelliana, 2019.


B) Monographs (one must be chosen by non-attendants):

J. Le Goff, La nascita del Purgatorio, trad. it. Torino, Einaudi, 1982

L. Canetti, Frammenti di eternità. Corpi e reliquie tra Antichità e Medioevo, Roma, Viella, 2002

M. Bacci, Investimenti per l'aldilà. Arte e raccomandazione dell'anima nel Medioevo, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2004

G. Todeschini, Ricchezza francescana. Dalla povertà volontaria alla società di mercato, Bologna, il Mulino, 2004

E. Stimilli, Il debito del vivente. Ascesi e capitalismo, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2011

G. A. Anderson, Il peccato. La sua storia nel mondo giudaico-cristiano, trad. it. Macerata, Liberilibri, 2012

E. Stimilli, Debito e colpa, Roma, Ediesse, 2015

P. Brown, Il riscatto dell'anima. Aldilà e ricchezza nel primo cristianesimo occidentale, trad. it. Torino, Einaudi, 2016

P. Brown, Tesori in cielo. La povertà santa nel cristianesimo delle origini, Roma, Carocci, 2018

L. Travaini, I Trenta denari di Giuda. Storia di reliquie impreviste nell’Europa medievale e moderna, Roma, Viella, 2020


Teaching methods

The traditional lecture format will be supported by texts and images, which will be shown and made available online to students on the Virtual Learning Environment of the University website.

On this page, students will also have specific sections dedicated to learning how to research sources, edited by Donatella Tronca (teaching tutor and course tutor).

Assessment methods

Class attendance is recommended to achieve a good result. All those who cannot attend the course for demonstrable reasons of work are required to agree their syllabus in advance during the lecturer’s office hours.

The oral examination will be held at the end of the course, and it will assess:

- basic knowledge relating to the course program (the assessment is carried out on the basis of the materials examined in class and the texts indicated in the program);

- the ability to understand the problems faced during the lectures;

- knowledge of the discipline in its historical development;

- the ability to frame the sources examined in class in their context, and to discuss them critically;

- the quality of oral expression and the ability to construct a logical-argumentative type of speech.

For students attending the course, the examination consists of checking the knowledge acquired during the course, above all the sources and other materials progressively uploaded on the website Virtual Learning Environment. In addition, they are required to know the general outlines of the history of ancient and medieval Christianity on the basis of one of the Handbooks recommended in Section A of the "Reading/Bibliography".

For non-attending students, in addition to in-depth knowledge of one of the Handbooks (point A in the "Reading/Bibliography"), they are also obliged to make a critical reading of one of the books which are contained in Section B of the "Readings/Bibliography" (Monographs) or recommended by the lecturer.

The final evaluation will follow these criteria:

- insufficient grade: lack of basic knowledge and inability to produce a correct interpretation of the texts and / or problems;

- sufficient grade: possession of basic knowledge; mainly correct interpretation, but carried out with imprecision and little autonomy;

- good grade: possession of intermediate level knowledge; fully correct interpretation, but not always precise and autonomous;

- excellent grade: possession of high level knowledge; interpretation of problems not only correct but conducted with autonomy and precision. Excellent oral expression skills.


To apply for the thesis, it is necessary to have presented for the examination a final paper on a topic defined together with the lecturer. It is also highly recommended to register on the website and take part in the workshops of the Laboratorio sulle fonti per la ricerca storica organised by Donatella Tronca.

As the timeframe for drafting a thesis needs to be carefully calculated, arrangements should be made with the lecturer well in advance: at least six months for a three-year degree and at least a year for a master’s degree. The most appropriate graduation session will be suggested by the lecturer on the basis of the work done.


Teaching tools

The main teaching support tools, which will be illustrated in class and on the Virtual course page, are available at the Campus Central Library (Palazzo Corradini) and at the website AlmaRe - the Library of Bibliographic and Documentary Electronic Resources of the University of Bologna.

Office hours

See the website of Luigi Canetti