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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Adult courses

Inventing Christianity: The First Six Centuries

Week 3: July 22-28, 2007

The registration period for this program has passed.
Please contact us if you have any questions.

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At the dawn of the seventh century, Pope Gregory the Great presided over a Christian Church as wealthy and powerful as any institution in the Roman Empire. Gregory's church boasted not only far-reaching ecclesiastical organization and authority but also a single collection of canonical scriptures, a single theological orthodoxy, well-entrenched forms of religious life and practice, and a highly developed literary, philosophical, and artistic culture. In striking contrast, first-century Christianity began with little more than the memory of an itinerant Jewish teacher and astonishing reports of encounters with him after his death. The first Christians were few in number and powerless. They shared only the most rudimentary rituals and had no formal institutions, no texts or documents of their own, no clear record of the events surrounding Jesus' life and death, no common understanding of the significance of those events, and no plan for the future. Where, then, did Gregory's Christianity come from? How did the first-century struggle for survival and self-understanding give rise to seventh-century supremacy? Who determined what Christianity would become and how did they do it? Led by CAU favorite Scott MacDonald, the N. K. Regan Professor of Christian Studies and chair of the philosophy department at Cornell, with guest faculty Kim Haines-Eitzen, associate professor of Near Eastern Studies, and Charles Brittain, associate professor of classics, we'll make the tumultuous journey from the Apostle Paul to Gregory the Great, guided by the formative texts and thinkers of early Christianity. We will examine some of the earliest Christian texts, controversies, and foundational creeds. And, we will sample the writings of the apologists, ascetics, martyrs, mystics, monks, and theologians who forged Christianity. No special background is needed.


Once you've registered, we'll send you materials on the academic program and other information to help you prepare for CAU. A $50 per person, per class, non-refundable deposit is required with your registration. All deposits are applied to the full program charges. Register now!

Program charges

Below are the program fees and housing choices for the on-campus summer programs. Please contact us if you have questions.

For those staying on campus, the program fee (per adult, per week) covers the course, lodging, sixteen meals, coffee breaks, hospitality hours, welcome and farewell parties, conference-lot parking fees, and use of most of Cornell’s campus facilities. Some courses have additional fees. Wednesday supper is on your own. Some campus facilities, such as the golf course, also charge specific user fees. Weekly program rates vary with the accommodation you select:

Program fee including on-campus housing and meals

  • Court/Kay Hall: double occupancy per adult $1,932, single supplement $100
  • Room w/private bathroom: double occupancy per adult $1,990, single supplement $150

Program fee for commuters and for those staying at Hilton Homewood Suites*: $1,115

*This fee does not include housing or meals. If you wish to stay at Hilton Homewood Suites, please call 607.266.0000 to make a reservation in the CAU block.

Commuter meal plan option: $425. Most CAUers staying at Hilton Homewood Suites select our meal plan for the week in order to enjoy the full CAU experience.