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Back to A Journey through Western Christianity: from Persecuted Faith to Global Religion (200 - 1650)

Learner Reviews & Feedback for A Journey through Western Christianity: from Persecuted Faith to Global Religion (200 - 1650) by Yale University

506 ratings
164 reviews

About the Course

This course follows the extraordinary development of Western Christianity from its early persecution under the Roman Empire in the third century to its global expansion with the Jesuits of the early modern world. We explore the dynamic and diverse character of a religion with an enormous cast characters. We will meet men and women who tell stories of faith as well as of violence, suppression, and division. Along the way, we encounter Perpetua and her martyrdom in Carthage; the struggles of Augustine the bishop in North Africa; the zeal of Celtic monks and missionaries; the viciousness of the Crusades; the visions of Brigit of Sweden; and the fracturing of Christianity by Martin Luther’s protest. We hear the voices of great theologians as well as of those branded heretics by the Church, a powerful reminder that the growth of Christianity is a story with many narratives of competing visions of reform and ideals, powerful critiques of corruption and venality, and exclusion of the vanquished. The troubled history of Christian engagement with Jews and Muslims is found in pogroms and expulsions, but also in the astonishing ways in which the culture of the West was transformed by Jewish and Islamic learning. We shall explore the stunning beauty of the Book of Kells, exquisitely prepared by monks as the Vikings terrorized the coast of England. We will experience the blue light of the windows of Chartres, and ponder the opening questions of Thomas Aquinas’ great Summa. We will read from the Gutenberg Bible of the fifteenth century, which heralded the revolution brought by the printing press. We will travel from Calvin’s Geneva to Elizabeth’s England to Trent, where a Catholic Council met to inaugurate a modern, missionary Catholic church. We will walk through the great Escorial of Philip II of Spain, hear the poetry of John of the Cross, and follow the Jesuits to Brazil and China. Christianity in the West was forged in the fires of conflict and tumult, and it brought forth both creativity and violence. It echoed with calls for God’s world to be transformed, it inspired the most sublime art and architecture, yet it also revealed the power of the union of cross and sword to destroy. The course is a journey through the formation of the West as one strand of Christianity, as one chapter in a global story. It is a journey that has shaped our world....

Top reviews

Jun 5, 2020

A very comprehensive, cohesive and resourceful overview of all the crucial events, main characters and key ecclesiastical developments that consolidated the Catholic Church in Europe and the Americas.

Mar 22, 2018

A great journey! Lots of information and bonus material! I'm very thankful for the course. It might be that the professor's speech is sometimes a bit difficult to follow, but it's a minor drawback

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126 - 150 of 162 Reviews for A Journey through Western Christianity: from Persecuted Faith to Global Religion (200 - 1650)

By Omacel

Jun 14, 2017

Excellent! Really worthy.

By Edwart A C

Sep 10, 2018

Excellent course!!!

By Derik B

Apr 10, 2017

Excellent course.


Apr 2, 2021

Very good course

By Luz M

Oct 23, 2017

















By Alice T d C

Oct 15, 2017

very insightful

By Paulo S L B

Dec 26, 2019

Curso incrivel

By Ralph N

Jun 22, 2017

Great Course

By Elizabeth

Apr 10, 2021

Very good!!

By Daisey C

Apr 6, 2021


By Tania K

Jan 25, 2021

Amazing !

By valeria j b b

Jan 3, 2021


By Miurel M

Aug 11, 2020


By Miguel D

Jul 4, 2020

thank you

By Charles E M

Apr 30, 2018


By Abdulqader A

Jul 8, 2019


By Eleonora D C

Jun 1, 2021


By Sweet S

Jun 21, 2020


By Vincent B

Nov 19, 2017


By Kenneth O

Oct 4, 2017

This is an excellent course. Prof. Gordon offers a very intimate and compelling narrative through the fifteen hundred years of history presented. Hi is a very good storyteller! He brings this complex topic to life through his focus on the individual people who impacted and were impacted by their times as our context for understanding the broader social and theological events that were occurring. I not only learned much, but enjoyed doing so. Therefore the course certainly fulfilled my expectations. I rated it four stars rather than five however because I missed interactivity. The discussion area was not really utilized and many posts were not only old, apparently from an earlier presentation of the course, but went unanswered or with no dialogue by other participants. My suggested would be to make this aspect of the course as compelling as Dr. Gordon's presentations by enhancing interactivity through stimulation of topics and active engagement.

By Bach-Mai V

Mar 15, 2018

Fascinating survey course that touches on the major figures and trends that led the early Christian church from a persecuted minority to a global movement. Good representation of the economic, political, and cultural context of this evolution. I learned a lot, fleshing out the things I'd previously picked up in grade school world history and art history courses. Excellent choice for anybody interested in European history and religion. My only complaint is the lead professor's lecture style, which seemed off-the-cuff and halting and stream-of-consciousness, even though his content was very much on point. I often read the transcripts of his videos rather than listen to his voice. Also, it would have been nice to have more dynamic videos like I've seen in other courses from Yale via Coursera. Each video is the professor standing or pacing in front of 3 images projected or mounted behind him.

By Shima S

Apr 28, 2020

I loved the material in this course, and found that 11 weeks went by really quickly. The course was strengthened by the mix of lecturers and the discussion videos. Assessments help synthesize the material. In terms of constructive feedback, I think it would be even better if readings included summaries/overviews of topics. The narrative quickly moves through different characters in different historical and socio-political times, so some sort of big picture overview would be really helpful. Overall highly recommend, and I hope there's a 2nd course that continues where this one left off.

By Russell B

May 2, 2020

I took this essentially as a refresher course, but I learned a great deal above and beyond that, and it exceeded my expectations. The teachers are all engaging and the coverage is thorough. My only caveats: I did think that there was a bit of a gap in coverage of the early centuries of Christianity as the official religion of the Empire, and I thought there was some downplaying here and there of the darker sides of Catholic and Protestant versions of Western Christianity. Overall, though, this course is very good and delivers what it claims.

By Martha L B B

Jul 25, 2020

En algunos de los temas se evidencia parcialidad de los exponentes hacia una determinada agrupación o representante religioso, como en varios de los videos en que se habla de los representantes del protestantismo y/o se critica a la Iglesia Católica sin cuidarse de mostrarse imparciales y objetivos.

By Noah M

Aug 23, 2017

For a free resource, all things considered, this was a helpful and useful brief overview of the early history of Christianity, that can be taken and underwent (excluding the 'bonus' material, which I liked very much) in a short period of time.