Sioux Falls Atheists
Sioux Falls Atheists and Atheism, Agnostics and Humanism

Sioux Falls Atheists endorse The Fall of the Pagans course for
describing the transition from Paganism to Christianity.

The Fall of the Pagans and
the Origins of Medieval Christianity
Lectures by Professor Kenneth W. Harl

The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity
(2011) - 24 lectures, 12 hours
The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity at TheGreatCourses.com

Why did pagan Rome, which had a history of tolerating other faiths, clash with early Christians? What was it like, under Roman law, to be a Jew or a Christian? What led to the great persecutions of Christians? Above all else, how did Christianity ultimately achieve dominance in the Roman Empire, eclipsing paganism in one of the most influential turning points in the history of Western civilization?

Answers to these and similar questions are important for the sheer fact that much of today's world is still governed by principles drawn from the Judeo-Christian heritage that gained primacy as a result of Christianity's triumph over the paganism of ancient Rome. Two thousand years after this earth-shattering change, many of these principles still determine how most of today's Western world—both Christian and non-Christian alike—thinks about ethics, sin, redemption, forgiveness, progress, and so much more.

Discover the true story behind this ethical and religious legacy with The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity, a historically focused discussion of the dramatic interaction between Judaism, Christianity, and paganism from the 1st to the 6th centuries. Presented by Professor Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane University—an award-winning teacher, classical scholar, and one of the most esteemed historians on The Great Courses faculty—these 24 lectures allow you to explore in great depth the historical reasons that Christianity was able to emerge and endure and, in turn, spark a critical transition for religion, culture, and politics.

An All-Encompassing Picture of a Critical Era

While the Judeo-Christian values that have shaped society's ideas are ones we might today take for granted, their emergence from an ancient era dominated by loyalties to a vast array of gods would once have seemed the most unlikely of narratives. Even after the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in A.D. 312, it would not be until the 6th-century reign of Justinian that medieval Christianity would emerge and this new historical pathway would finally be confirmed.

Professor Harl's magnificent course enables you to grasp the full historical sweep of this monumental transition by creating an all-encompassing picture of this critically important era. While some philosophical and theological content is included to clarify important points of transition, the focus of The Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity is—above all else—on its most important and fascinating episodes, among which are these:

  • Emperor Nero's rescript in A.D. 64, which not only ordered the persecution of Christians in the city of Rome but also made the faith illegal throughout the empire. As the first religion ever banned in the Roman world, Christianity would be forced to develop new institutions and new ways of spreading its message.
  • The Battle of the Milvian Bridge in A.D. 312, where Emperor Constantine won a victory described in the only two literary accounts—both written by Christian authors—as having been deliberately fought under the Christian symbol of the Chi Ro. Professor Harl offers a probing analysis of what he believes Emperor Constantine's real motives were for fighting in this battle.
  • The reign of Theodosius I (A.D. 379 to 395), under which laws were passed banning public sacrifice throughout the Roman Empire and making Christianity the only legitimate religion. This crucial reign, according to Professor Harl, signified not only the death knell of Roman paganism but the first steps in the creation of the persecuting society of medieval Europe.

Professor Kenneth W. Harl has taught at Tulane University, where he is Professor of Classical and Byzantine History, for more than 30 years. A specialist in ancient Mediterranean civilizations and a veteran field researcher, he serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Archaeology. Professor Harl has earned Tulane's Student Body Award for Excellence in Teaching on multiple occasions.

24 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: Religious Conflict in the Roman World 13: The Great Persecutions
2: Gods and Their Cities in the Roman Empire 14: The Spirit of Late Paganism
3: The Roman Imperial Cult 15: Imperial Recovery under the Tetrarchs
4: The Mystery Cults 16: The Conversion of Constantine
5: Platonism and Stoicism 17: Constantine and the Bishops
6: Jews in the Roman Empire 18: Christianizing the Roman World
7: Christian Challenge - First Conversions 19: The Birth of Christian Aesthetics and Letters
8: Pagan Response - First Persecutions 20: The Emperor Julian and the Pagan Reaction
9: Christian Bishops and Apostolic Churches 21: Struggle over Faith and Culture
10: Pagan Critics and Christian Apologists 22: New Christian Warriors - Ascetics and Monks
11: First Christian Theologians 23: Turning Point - Theodosius I
12: Imperial Crisis and Spiritual Crisis 24: Justinian and the Demise of Paganism

 

The Fall of the Pagans and
the Origins of Medieval Christianity
Lectures by Professor Kenneth W. Harl

Sioux Falls Atheists endorse The Fall of the Pagans course for
describing the transition from Paganism to Christianity.