Heaven and Hell throughout the Ages (THE2142)

StaffProfessor Morwenna Ludlow - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will examine:

  • the development of Christian doctrines of heaven, hell and related concepts such as purgatory, focusing on five key periods: the early Church; the Medieval period; the Reformation; the late 18th and 19th centuries
  • how specific questions on the nature of heaven and hell have been related to the Christian eschatological hope and to Christian theology in general
  • social and political factors affecting belief in or the denial of hell
  • the variety of beliefs on these themes, in particular looking at the relationship between mainstream Christianity and fringe groups

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of the development and variety of Christian beliefs about heaven, hell and purgatory
  • 2. analyse, with limited guidance, the reasons why differences of opinion on these beliefs were so divisive in Christian communities
  • 3. describe and assess the relation of beliefs in heaven and hell to social and political factors
  • 4. demonstrate some understanding of the historical and theological problems involved in tracing the development of a doctrine through time

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. demonstrate, with limited guidance, detailed understanding of and engagement with the richness of Christianity in some of its varied forms
  • 6. demonstrate detailed understanding of the multi-faceted complexity of Christianity's place in the world, and in particular the relationship between specifically Christian beliefs, texts, practices and institutions, and wider social and cultural structures and norms
  • 7. demonstrate detailed understanding of how personal and communal identities and motivations are shaped by religion, how this has both constructive and destructive effects, and the importance of these identities
  • 8. make careful use of a core method of study: critical historical investigation
  • 9. evaluate and analyse, with limited guidance, a diversity of primary and secondary sources

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. undertake guided work within broad guidelines
  • 11. shape detailed information into a coherent account, with some guidance
  • 12. demonstrate consistency and rigour in method and argument
  • 13. make thorough use of selected written sources, with some guidance
  • 14. demonstrate sensitive understanding of the differences between the practices and traditions of various groups
  • 15. communicate clearly in written and oral forms
  • 16. participate appropriately in a learning group
  • 17. discuss sensitive issues with appropriate generosity

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction to themes and issues [Homeric Hymn to Demeter and Virgil Aeneid VI]
  • The early church I [The Passion of Perpetua; Irenaeus Against Heresies V]
  • The early church II [Origen On First Principles, Augustine City of God]
  • The Medieval period: Hell and Purgatory [Dies Irae; Dante Purgatorio]
  • The Medieval period: resurrection [Dante Paradiso and Aquinas]
  • Radical eschatology [Pseudo-Dionysius, Joachim of Fiore, Jan Hus]
  • The Reformation: purgatory, indulgences [Luther 95 Theses; Babylonian Captivity]
  • Responses to the Reformation: [Council of Trent; Johannes Denck] 
  • Seventeenth and eighteenth century England: pietism, Platonism and radicalism [Anne Conway, Jane Lead, George Rust, and Jeremiah White] 
  • The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: USA [Jonathan Edwards and H. Ballou]
  • The nineteenth century: UK [F. W. Farrar; response to Farrar from E. Pusey]

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activity11Seminars
Guided independent study267Private study

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written exam402 hours1-15Written feedback
Essay504000 words1-15Written feedback, plus oral feedback when student collects essay
Seminar presentation1010 minutes1-17Written on content and presentation.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written examWritten exam1-15Refer/Defer period
EssayEssay1-15Refer/Defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Brian Daley The Hope of the Early Church (Hendrickson, 2003)  
  • Jacques Le Goff The Rise of Purgatory (Scholar Press, 1984) 
  • Almond, Philip C. Heaven and hell in Enlightenment England (C.U.P., 1994) 
  • Rowell, Geoffrey, Hell and the Victorians (Clarendon Press, 1974) 
  • Moltmann, Jrgen Theology of Hope (SCM 1967) 
  • Ludlow, Morwenna Universalism in the History of Christian Theology, in R. Parry and C. Partridge (edd.)
  • Universal Salvation (Paternoster, 2003) 
  • Ludlow, Morwenna Universal Salvation (OUP, 2000)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE – https://vle.exeter.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=1721 

Available as distance learning?