What did it mean to be a child in the ancient world? Did Jesus and the early Christians accept and value children in different ways than their fellow Jews or neighbouring Greeks and Romans? This course will look at Jesus’ teachings on children, on reading other New Testament texts that deal with the life of children, and with exploring how later Christian authors, such as Augustine and John Chrysostom, understood the role of children in the early Church. We will discuss the social and economic lives, the education and discipline, and the treatment of children, theologically and otherwise, in the early Church and work towards an overall understanding of childhood in the early Church. The course will be intersectional, paying attention to gender, freeborn or enslaved status, as well as ethnicity. The course will also employ sources from the Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds, in an attempt to understand similarities and differences with early Christian understandings of children and childhood. Modern discussions of children and childhood will also be consulted in order to deconstruct Western presumptions of what it means to be a child and engage with an awareness of the cultural nature of children and childhood.
Available in-person & online.