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History & Ecumenics

The History and Ecumenics Department has two areas of study—World Christianity and the History of Religion (WCHR) and the History of Christianity. Both are vital to the MDiv and PhD programs as students learn the inter-religious dimensions of Christianity from its earliest years to the present.

Curriculum

MDiv students gain a broad perspective in the historical tradition. Students are required to take twelve credits in the department, including one course in each of the following areas: Early and Medieval History, Reformation History, Modern European or American History, and World Christianity and the History of Religions, or Sociology of Religion.

Current Course Highlights

Bible, Preaching and Catechesis in the Reformation
Much of the history, theology, and piety of the Western church can be discerned by tracing the roles of the Bible, preaching, and catechesis in religious texts and practices, academic study and daily devotion, theology and culture from the later Middle Ages through the seventeenth century.

The Theology of John Calvin
Central to traditional understanding of Calvin is the Institutes of the Christian Religion in its final version (1559). Besides shifting attention to the early Institutes (1536, 1541), this course engages with Calvin’s equally important exegetical writings (commentaries, sermons) and the wide range of his ecclesial and pastoral writings (liturgies, music, catechisms, letters, etc.), in the context of his work as a pastor and preacher as well as reformer and teacher.

Social Christianity and American Inequality
This course explores the history of American Social Christianity, a tradition cultivated by a wide range of believers, united mainly by the conviction that participation in fights against structural inequality is an essential component of faithfulness in the modern world. Readings and lectures will trace the development of this tradition from its origins in black resistance to enslavement through the rise of contemporary social justice movements. Along the way we will consider the contributions of Social Christians to wider struggles for equality, including those galvanized by workers, women, people of color, and LGBTQ communities.

The New African Diaspora
This course will acquaint students with the new African Christian diaspora, providing an overview of the historical development and variety of African Christian communities particularly in North America and Europe. The course identifies emerging themes and trends in the study of the new African religious diaspora; and highlights the social relevance of African Christian communities in civic life. With exposure to religious ethnography, students will be able to analyze the unfolding of diaspora faiths; evidence a critical awareness of their own faiths and cultures, through discerning engagement with diverse cultural contexts in an increasingly globalized society.

Complete Course Offerings

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Chaplain at the Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania

Khristi Adams, Class of 2008

“At Princeton, we had precept groups—we’d engage text and debate. That gave me confidence to have those conversations anywhere.”