28353 - History of Christianity (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page


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

No poverty Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The main purpose of this class is to let students get familiar with sources interpretation processes and with the history of christianity in a diachronical perspective. Students will understand the role played by christianity in the cultural history and its position among other religions.

Course contents

True and false gnosis: ancient philosophy and Christology

The course aims to present the development of certain decisive moments in Christology that revolve around the problem of deus patiens. Examination will begin from the context of ancient and late-ancient philosophy with particular attention on the figure of Clement of Alexandria. Indeed, Clement is a paradigmatic case study for the issue that the course aims to investigate.

The following topics will be examined throughout the lessons:

  • The spread of knowledge in antiquity
  • The Alexandrine context between II and III A.C.
  • The development of Christology
  • Gnosticism and its “logic”
  • Clement of Alexandria: his thought and “philosophy”


Syllabus for attending students 

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

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.

    M. Simonetti, Testi gnostici in lingua greca e latina, Mondadori–Fondazione Lorenzo Valla, Milan 2009.

  • 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;

    M. Rizzi, Il luogo della mistica in Clemente Alessandrino, in L’anti-Babele. Sulla mistica degli antichi e dei moderni, ed. I. Adinolfi – G. Gaeta – A. Lavagetto, Genoa 2017,pp. 117-128.

    D. Dainese, IlProtrettico ai greci di Clemente Alessandrino. Una proposta di contestualizzazione, in Adamantius16 (2010), pp. 256-285.

    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;

  • A. Magris,La logica del pensiero gnostico, Brescia 1997.

Non-attending students shall also study D. Dainese, Passibilità divina, Rome 2012.


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