All written assignments will be turned in (and returned) through Drop Box on Sakai. Due dates and times are noted below for each assignment. You may--of course!--turn in any assignments early.

Any written assignment that receives below a B+ can be revised and turned in for regrading. Students planning to revise papers should meet with the professor to discuss editing.

For each assignment you will have several choices, and you should be keeping these assignments in mind as you complete the readings each week.

Skip ahead to: Directed Reading; Creative Response; Argument Analysis; Film Analysis; Final Exam




1. Directed Reading

Due to Sakai by 5pm on Friday, September 23, 2016

Goal: This goal of this assignment is for you to analyze the rhetorical effects of a piece of early Christian writing on its original audience and consider whether those effects would be the same on a modern audience. You should pay particular attention to the use of language and tone, and try to describe how the author(s) of the text is creating connections with an audience.

Format: Choose one of the directed reading assignments below. The directed reading should be 500-750 words, double-spaced. The directed reading should begin with an overall summary of your reading (in 1-2 sentences: "In this text, the author..."), followed by specific examples from the text that support your initial summary. Quotations from the text should refer to page numbers in After the New Testament.

Choose one of the following directed reading assignments:

a. The Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (ANT 40-45) has many graphic descriptions of torture. What was it like for you--a student in the 21st century--to read those graphic descriptions? Do you think the effects on an ancient audience would have been different? If so, how? Which one or two descriptions do you think were most effective, and why?

b. In his Plea Regarding the Christians (ANT 82-88), Athenagoras compares the Christian view of the divine with the non-Christian (pagan) view of the divine. What are the main differences between the Christian and pagan view of (the) God(s)? Which points do you think Athenagoras believed were most persuasive?

c. The selection from the Acts of Thomas (ANT 14-19) recounts two stories: the story of the king's brother and the story of the murdered adulteress. Assume both of these stories were designed to convince an audience of the superiority of Christianity: what are the points that would persuade someone? Would these points also persuade someone in the 21st century?




2. Creative Response

Due to Sakai by 5pm on Friday, October 21, 2016

Goal: The goal of this assignment is for you to place yourself in the place of an early Christian during the first centuries CE. You should draw on the readings and discussions done in class to imagine the social, religious, and cultural benefits and obstacles to pursuing a Christian life: why would someone be Christian? What would being Christian be like for them?

Format: Choose one of the creative response scenarios below. You have more freedom in terms of format for this assignment: you may write a letter, a dialogue, a short story, an annotated illustration, or choose another format (you may want to consult with the professor if you're not sure what format to follow). You may choose to quote from primary texts from class directly or place references (footnotes or parenthetical references) to texts from which you are drawing inspiration. No specific word length applies to this assignment.

Choose one of the following scenarios for your creative response:

a. The Friendly Bishop. You are a Christian bishop in a major city in the early 200s and a pagan has come to you who is curious about Christianity (including what a "bishop" is!). How would you explain what Christians are, what they do, and what they are not and what they don't do? What pros and cons of Christianity do you focus on?

b. Your Gnostic Friend. You are a Christian who follows more "gnostic" teachings; how do you explain to your non-gnostic Christian friends--some of whom may go the same church as you!--how salvation works?

c. I'm Still Your Daughter. You are a Christian woman who has decided to embrace a life of chastity. How do you explain this decision to your (choose one or more:) fiancÚ/parents/husband/children?




3. Argument Analysis

Due to Sakai by 5pm on Friday, November 11, 2016

Goal: The goal of this assignment is to closely analyze the effectiveness of arguments used in debates among Christians in the fourth and fifth centuries. You should pay close attention to the language, tone, and tools employed by the author of the text you are analyzing.

Format: Choose one of the texts below. You may also compare two texts from among those listed below. The argument analysis should be 750-1000 words, double-spaced, and should quote frequently from the text(s) in order to demonstrate points of your analysis. Your analysis should focus clearly on a few points (for example: angry tone, citation of laws, and threats of violence). If at all possible, you should determine whether, and for whom, the arguments in your text(s) would be persuasive. Quotations from texts should refer to page numbers from Christianity in Late Antiquity.

a. In his Letter to Alexander of Constantinople (CLA 159-166), what kinds of arguments does Alexander of Alexandria make against the followers of Arius? How could a clever opponent respond to his arguments?

b. In his Letter to Cyril of Alexandra (CLA 179-83), what kinds of arguments does Nestorius of Constantinople make against Cyril and his followers? How could a clever opponent respond to his arguments?

c. In his First Speech Against the Judaizers (CLA 227-37), what kinds of arguments does John Chrysostom make against Christians who go to the synagogue? How could a clever opponent respond to his arguments?




4. Film Analysis.

Due to Sakai by 5pm on Friday, December 9, 2016 (note new day!)

Goal: The goal of this assignment is to analyze how and why a 21st-century person would interpret themes and events from the early Christian period, through an analysis of the 2009 movie Agora (more information on the film is available from IMDB here; more information about the historical figure of Hypatia is available here).

Format: After watching the film Agora, develop an analysis of the film in which you compare specific themes of your choice with the ancient sources we have read. You may focus on specific institutions of early Christianity (e.g., monasticism; the bishop; the emperor) or on broader modern themes to in the movie and in our ancient sources (e.g., gender; politics; education). You should make specific connections with primary texts from the course and cite specific scenes and moments from the film. Quotations from course texts should refer to page numbers from Christianity in Late Antiquity. References to the film may refer to general scenes ("the scene in which Theon finds the cross"). The film analysis should be 750-1000 words, double-spaced.




5. Final Exam

Due to Sakai by 5pm on Monday, December, 12, 2016

Goal: The goal of the final exam is to synthesize various ideas and themes with significant texts, people, and events in the first five Christian centuries.

Format: The take-home final is now available for download. Click here. (If you are not already logged into Sakai you will be asked to do so when you click.)



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