Liberal Arts Level 7: Classics of Christendom History
This course will cover some of the most significant Classics of Christian History, both East and West, beginning with the early 5th century and ending with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. We will read histories, chronicles, lives of the saints, and theological treatises having to do with some of the major controversies from this extremely important (but sometimes overlooked and/or misunderstood) period. Students will come away not only with an understanding of the scope and major themes, figures, and events of Church history, but also with the ability to think “historically”: How do we put together evidence into a coherent narrative that makes sense of the primary data and can still see the Holy Spirit working in the life of the Church? As a course within the classical “Great Books” tradition of the liberal arts curriculum, most of class time will be spent discussing the primary texts, with the instructor providing supplementary contextual data where relevant; optional secondary sources are also available to be read concurrently with the primary.
As a course within St. Raphael School, non-Orthodox students are welcome to enroll, but with the understanding that the instructor will approach the material from an explicitly Eastern Orthodox perspective, and will therefore at times need to be critical of, although not uncharitable to, the non-Orthodox materials. Historical thinking begins with understanding, not prejudice, and thus the instructor will often encourage students to read each text with empathy before rushing to evaluate whether it is “right” or “wrong.” This class can be taken by itself, but it is designed to be taken together with its sister course, Liberal Arts Level 7: Classics of Christendom Literature, in a back-to-back block. Students who enroll in both courses will receive a discount on tuition.
This course focuses on history, but also integrates some study of medieval and Renaissance literature, helping students to see and enjoy the integration of both history and literature. In this upper-school course, students will examine and discuss events, trends, ideas, achievements, and failures found in these historical periods, while also comparing and contrasting such study with their own contemporary period. While students focus on primary classic texts, they also read a survey text for broader context and understanding.
Students are asked to consider and engage with carefully crafted questions as their window into the Great Conversation. Occasionally, the teacher will present historical context through brief lectures, but otherwise, classes are seminar-style discussions on the classical texts. Students are assessed for their curiosity, participation, and diligence during discussions, as well as by means of short response papers, essays, and occasional quizzes.
This class is paired with our high school course Liberal Arts Level 7: Classics of Christendom Literature, taught by the same teacher, and scheduled back to back with that course in a “block.” Students who take both courses receive a discount. This course may also be taken as a standalone history study.
Placement: Please read about our new process above.
This course is suitable for rising 11th–12th graders. Students are expected to have strong reading and writing skills as well as an interest in and capacity for engaging in discussion about literature and history. Students enrolling in this course are expected to:
- Read at or above a 10th-grade level
- Compose paragraphs and basic essays with confidence
- Use a planner and track assignment progress
- Listen, take notes, and be willing to engage in group discussions (extroversion not required!)
- Type well enough to transcribe paragraphs without frustration
- Possess basic computer skills—browsing, accessing assignments, scanning, e-mailing, and managing files without significant help from parents
- Have some exposure to medieval history and have taken a course in the Great Books of antiquity
High School Credit: This course is the equivalent of one high school credit in history.
**How much time will students spend on homework? **
This varies according to each student’s pace. However, students are assigned approximately 1.5–2.5 hours of reading each week. Additional time may be required to supplement their own studying and paper or project development.
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.
Gregory the Great, _The Life of St. Benedict _(Early Christian Lives)
- ISBN: 978-0140435269
John Moschos, The Spiritual Meadow
- _ISBN: _978-0879075392
Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People
- _ISBN: _978-0199537235
John of Damascus, Three Treatises on the Divine Images
- _ISBN: _978-0881412451
Photios the Great, The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit
- _ISBN: _978-0916586881
Marvin Kantor ed., Medieval Slavic Lives of Saints & Princes
- _ISBN: _978-0930042448
Anna Komnene, The Alexiad
- _ISBN: _978-0140455274
Nestor, The Russian Primary Chronicle
- _ISBN: _978-0915651320
Bonaventure, The Life of St. Francis
- _ISBN: _978-0060576523
Norman Russell ed., Gregory Palamas: The Hesychast Controversy and the Debate with Islam
- _ISBN: _978-1802077476
Dr. Alexander Titus is a learner, educator, translator, and Church historian, specializing in the Byzantine and medieval Western periods. He holds a BA (2011) in Classics from the University of Oregon, an MA (2015) and ThM (2016) from St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary, and a PhD (2022) in Church History from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he wrote his dissertation on St. Gregory Palamas. His English translation of Palamas’ Triads is also forthcoming from St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press. Dr. Titus has come to believe strongly in the salvific value of classical education, not only for the soul of the individual Christian, but for the building up of the whole Church. Dr. Titus currently lives in Western Oregon, with his wife and two sons. His other interests include cooking, literature, visual arts (e.g., film, animation, games), and volunteering in his local Orthodox community. firstname.lastname@example.org
Computer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.
High-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.
Headset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm
Zoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. To download Zoom:
- Visit zoom.us/download.
- Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
- Open and run the installer on your computer.
- In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.
Scanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.
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This registration will be finalized when the student's placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.