THL131 Rise of Christianity to 600 C E (8)

This foundation subject introduces students to skills appropriate to studying church history, including the use and analysis of early sources, both written and non-written, and later historical interpretations. It encompasses the contributions of the Apostolic Fathers and early Christian Apologists, and explores early challenges to the Christian movement from within and without. Close attention is given to church-state relations and the formulation of Christian theology by prominent theologians and significant councils, especially those convened at Nicaea and Chalcedon. The subject also examines early Christian monasticism, issues of ethnicity and gender, mission and the claims of the Bishop of Rome to supremacy. Consistent attention is given to understanding the broader context of the Graeco-Roman world in which Christianity developed.

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.


* Offering has a residential school. Please view following information for further details.

Session 1 (30)
On Campus
Canberra Campus
Ming Hua Theological College
United Theological College
Online *
Canberra Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: THL131. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Theology

Subject Relationships

THL410 Paired Subject

Incompatible Subjects


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of principal movements in theology, ecclesiology and politics in the Christian Church prior to 600 CE
  • be able to demonstrate knowledge of primary source documents from this period
  • be able to demonstrate understanding of methods of historical study
  • be able to demonstrate an ability to use contemporary documents in making judgements about the past and in testing the judgements of others
  • be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of Christians who lived in different times, cultures and with different worldviews
  • be able to assess critically historians' interpretations of early church history
  • be able to demonstrate self-guided and collaborative learning, including research, writing and communication skills


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • using the texts of the Apostolic Fathers, Christian apologists and their opponents to test and support claims made about the past
  • the impact on churches of Graeco-Roman culture, Roman imperial power and Judaism
  • Docetism, Gnosticism, other 'heresies' and the 'rule of faith': the work of Christian apologists before 250 CE
  • the persecution of Christians: causes and effects on churches before 325 CE
  • Church and empire: Constantine's revolution and its legacy
  • Donatism, Arianism, the Council of Nicaea and its aftermath
  • church and emperor in West and East: a comparison of Ambrose and John Chrysostom
  • early Christian monasticism
  • the careers and writings of Origen, Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers, Jerome and Augustine
  • the Council of Chalcedon and its significance for Eastern and Western Christianity
  • Leo the Great and the growing claim to supremacy of the Bishop of Rome
  • issues of ethnicity and gender in the early church

Residential School

This subject contains a 2 day Optional Residential School.The residential school for this introductory subject provides an orientation to the subject matter, methodology, library resources, and research tools pertaining to the study of church history.

Activities include lectures, library orientation and group work.


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.