00555 - Ancient Christian Literature

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course leads the student to know ancient Christian Literature in its historical development, and in its connection with jewish and graeco-roman tradition and with literary genres. The student will learn how to read and analyze ancient Christian texts.

Course contents

The definition of the concept of 'heresy' in the early centuries of Christianity.

The course aims at offering an image of the definition of the concept of 'heresy' in the early centuries of Christianity, through its historical development and the historiographical debate in this regard, following its stages through the testimony of two ancient heresiological texts: the Adversus haereses of Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century) and the anonymous treatise Confutation of all heresies (early 3rd century).

- The first module (Module 1; 30 hours) will be dedicated to the writings before Irenaeus on the theme of heresies, and mainly to the analysis of Irenaeus of Lyons' Adversus haereses.

The second module (Module 2, 30 hours) will instead be dedicated to the anonymous treatise Confutation of all heresies.

Readings/Bibliography

1) Studies (common to both units):

a) (Handbook of Early Christian Literature):

– M. Simonetti-E. Prinzivalli, Letteratura Cristiana Antica, Piemme, Casale Monferrato 2003 (solo le pp.: 11-179).

b) (One monograph, by choice; full reading; for both units):

– W. Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity [english ed.], Fortress Press, Philadelphia 1971 (to be uploaded in the didactic material);

– M. Edwards, Catholicity and Heresy in the Early Church, Farnham, Ashgate, 2009.

2) For Unit 1, by choice:

– E. Bellini (a c. di), Ireneo di Lione, Contro le eresie, Jaca Book, Milano 1979;

– A. Cosentino (a c. di), Ireneo di Lione, Contro le eresie (2 voll.), Città Nuova, Roma 2009.

3) For Unit 2, by choice:

– A. Magris (a c. di), 'Ippolito', Confutazione di tutte le eresie, Morcelliana, Brescia 2012;

– A. Cosentino (a c. di), Pseudo-Ippolito, Confutazione di tutte le eresie, Città Nuova, Roma 2017.

4) Essays by choice (4 = 2 Units, or 2 = 1 Unit) for students who cannot attend the lessons (to be uploaded in the teaching materials):

– E. Iricinschi – H.M. Zellentin, Making Selves and Marking Others: Identity and Late Antique Heresiologies, in E. Iricinschi – H.M. Zellentin (a c. di), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008 pp. 1-26;

– Y. Papadoyannakis, Defining Orthodoxy in Pseudo-Justin's "Quaestiones et responsiones ad orthodoxos", in E. Iricinschi – H.M. Zellentin (a c. di), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008, pp. 115-127;

– C. Humfress, Citizens and Heretics: Late Roman Lawyers on Christian Heresy, in E. Iricinschi – H.M. Zellentin (a c. di), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008, pp.-142 128;

– P. Townsend, Who Were the First Christians? Jews, Gentiles and the Christianoi, in E. Iricinschi – H.M. Zellentin (a c. di), Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008, pp. 212-230;

– R.J. Decker, The Bauer Thesis: An Overview, in P.A. Hartog (a c. di), Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts. Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis, James Clarke & Co., Cambridge 2015, pp. 6-33;

– R.D. Butler, “Orthodoxy,” “Heresy,” and Complexity: Montanism as a Case Study, in P.A. Hartog (a c. di), Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts. Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis, James Clarke & Co., Cambridge 2015, pp. 114-140;

– W.B. Shelton, Patristic Heresiology: The Difficulties of Reliability and Legitimacy, in P.A. Hartog (a c. di), Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts. Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis, James Clarke & Co., Cambridge 2015, pp. 193-212;

– G.L. Thompson, Bauer’s Early Christian Rome and the Development of “Orthodoxy”, in P.A. Hartog (a c. di), Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts. Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis, James Clarke & Co., Cambridge 2015, pp. 213-234.


Teaching methods

Lectures; use of bibliographic and electronic databases.

Assessment methods

Oral examination. Students can attend both Units (12 cfu), or only one Unit of their choice (6 cfu). During the test students will:

a) demonstrate that have read the proposed texts in full;

b) know how to identify the main protagonists and characters of the anti-heretic polemic literature of the secc. II-IV in its historical development and in the variety of its literary forms;

c) be able to describe the main lines of the development of ancient Christian literature in the early centuries.

– 1st Unit:

students will study:

– the handbook (see Studies above, point [a]);

– one of the two essays of a more in-depth general introduction to the antiheretic literature reported above – Studies, point (b) – limited to the pages indicated;

– the commented texts and the notes taken in class;

– the complete reading of Irenaeus' Against the heresies (ed. Bellini, or ed. Cosentino);

– 2nd Unit:

students will study:

– the handbook (see Studies above, point [a]);

– one of the two essays of a more in-depth general introduction to the antiheretic literature reported above – Studies, point (b) – limited to the pages indicated;

– the commented texts and the notes taken in class;

– the complete reading of ll. I-IV of Against all heresies (ed. Magris, or ed. Cosentino);

The students who cannot attend the lessons, in addition to what is indicated above for attending students, must replace the lecture notes with two essays of their choice (1 Unit, 6 cfu), or with four essays of their choice (2 Units, 12 cfu), between those indicated in the Bibliography, point 4 (which will be uploaded among the teaching materials).

Teaching tools

Projector; PC.

Office hours

See the website of Antonio Cacciari