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Take this free online course from Yale on early Christianity


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John Burger - published on 08/01/18

Bruce Gordon takes viewer on tour of Mediterranean world to discuss growth of the Christian religion

Bruce Gordon is Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale Divinity School. He leads a free online course that follows the development of Western Christianity from its early persecution under the Roman Empire in the third century to its global expansion with the Jesuits of the early modern world.

The course can be accessed here, and viewers can pay extra to get a certificate.

Along with doctoral students, Gordon explores the dynamic and diverse character of early Christianity and the people who advanced its history. They include St. Perpetua, who was martyred in Carthage; St. Augustine; Celtic monks and missionaries; and Martin Luther. Gordon also looks at Christian engagement with Jews and Muslims, and examines ways in which the culture of the West was transformed by Jewish and Islamic learning.

Filming is set in the Yale art gallery and includes a special interview with assistant curator Lisa Brody, who looks at Yale-owned artifacts from the early Syrian settlement of Dura-Europos. An image found there by Yale archaeologists in the early 20th century, formerly thought to be of the Samaritan woman at the well who had a transformative encounter with Jesus, is now thought by some to be an icon of the Annunciation. If so, it could be the first known image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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