Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

1/3 2019

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Foundations of the Christian Story

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professors’ bio.

This week’s course is “Foundations of the Christian Story.”

Ken Woo teaching MDiv church history classAbout Foundations of the Christian Story

In the 2018 Fall Term Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students learned about Church history with the Rev. Dr. Ken Woo in the class “Foundations of the Christian Story. ” A required course for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), it also fulfills a requirement for the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), and is open to students in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree.

This course surveys the history of Christianity from the late first century to the eve of the Reformation. Doctrinal and ecclesial developments will be considered within wider cultural contexts, with special attention to different ways of interpreting the biblical witness to Christ and life in Christ, and how they contribute to a shared, yet dynamic, Christian theological heritage.

By the end of the class, students were able to describe key figures and events of early and medieval Christianity within their cultural and political contexts. Also students were able to discuss theological issues that shaped, and continue to shape, Christian faith and traditions. Dr. Woo provided students with a historical framework for understanding the development of Christian doctrine, practices, and institutions that will prepare them for further theological study.

As to required texts, this course used The Story of Christianity, Volume I by Justo L. Gonzalez. Students also read The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, translated by B. Ward, and Athanasius’ On the Incarnation. Frederick C. Bauerschmidt’s Holy Teaching was also required.

Dr. Woo also recommended a number of other texts to offer further insight. Students explored texts such as Elizabeth A. Clark’s Women in the Early Church, Denis R. Janz’s A People’s History of Christianity Vol. 1, Kevin Madigan’s Medieval Christianity, Patricia Cox Miller’s Women in Early Christianity, Robert Louis Wilken’s The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, and Frances Young’s From Nicaea to Chalcedon.

Students in “Foundations of the Christian Story” actively participated in class and completed two short papers, as well as a midterm and a final exam.


About the Instructor

The professor for this course, the Rev. Dr. Kenneth J. Woo, began teaching at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2016. Previously he was historian and archivist of Duke Divinity School. He has taught at Duke Divinity School, Redeemer Seminary, and the College of New Jersey. He has also served as a faculty member in the United Methodist Church Course of Study program for ordained ministry. Woo received his Th.D. in the history of Christianity (Reformation Studies) from Duke University in 2015. Before that he completed his M.Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary and B.A. at the College of William and Mary.

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