Christian History, Theology

Early Christian Worship: Ritual and Space in the Ancient Church

Taught by Matthew Hoskin
Difficulty: Introductory
Crosslist: Theology
Runs 4/8 – 6/15/24
$225.00 – $399.00

Myths abound about how early Christians worshiped. Using texts from the late first-century Didache to the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, and using Christian spaces from the catacombs of Rome to Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, this course will explore Christian worship of the Triune God in the earliest centuries.

Deadline to register: Friday, March 29th

The syllabus for this class is available now. You can access it here.




Auditing ($225):

participate in readings and live class sessions, but no graded assignments and no course credit

Full course (Full-Time Discount) ($275):

for-credit courses (at least four per term) toward our Certificate or M.Litt in Classical Protestantism

Full course ($399):

individual classes on a for-credit basis; you can later apply them toward a Certificate or Degree




This Christian History course will be taught by Matthew Hoskin, and will run from April 8th through June 15th. The syllabus will be posted when available.

How and where did ancient Christians worship? Did they really live in the catacombs? Was divine service more like a backyard barbecue or an Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy? Myths abound about how early Christians worshiped—or, at the very least, obscurity and ignorance. This course will explore Christian worship of the Triune God in the earliest centuries both in terms of space (what were the “house churches”, what other spaces did they use and how, what about the catacombs?) and in terms of ritual (what went on in these spaces and why?). Students will study the art and archaeology of ancient Christian spaces from the catacombs to Hagia Sophia as well as texts such as the first-century Didache, Justin Martyr, the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom, Maximus the Confessor’s meditation on the liturgy, and the ancient approach to worship in writers like Tertullian and Gregory of Nyssa.


Dr Matthew Hoskin (PhD, University of Edinburgh) teaches ancient and medieval Christian history for Davenant Hall. His research focusses on manuscripts, monks, popes, canon law, and councils, which all feature in his book The Manuscripts of Leo the Great’s Letters (2022), and he blogs about the historic faith at Classically Christian. He lives on Superior’s northern shore in Thunder Bay, Ontario, with his wife and sons.

The syllabus for this class is available now. You can access it here.


Online only, runs 10 weeks, meeting 2 hr./wk. via Zoom. Students will also have the option to participate in class discussion on the Davenant Common Room Discord server. Register to reserve your spot and schedule will be set after a poll of participating students; if the class time does not fit your schedule, you will be eligible for a full refund.

This is a graduate-level course. Although a BA is not a necessary pre-requisite for this course, students should come prepared to do graduate-level work.