Invention of Medieval Christianity Assignment

Choose a sentence or two (no more than two) from either Peter Brown’s “The Notion of Virginity in the Early Church,” Yikzhak Hen’s “Converting the Barbarian West,” or Hen’s “The Early Medieval Barbatoria” that you find interesting as well as helpful in making sense of a particular aspect, detail, or idea found in one of the following primary sources:

“The Edict of Milan”
“Santa Maria Antiqua Sarcophagus”
“Rule of St. Benedict”
“Prayers for Him, Whose Beard is Shaven for the First Time”

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You may not use a passage from Hen’s “Converting the Barbarian West” or his “The Early Medieval Barbatoria” to comment on an aspect, detail or idea found in “Prayer for Him, Whose Beard is Shaven for the First Time.” That would just be too easy!

In the 1-2 pages that follow I ask that you:

Include the sentence or two from your secondary source at the very beginning of your essay (as an indented block quotation is fine).
Orient your reader to where (in terms of the overall argument of your secondary source) this passage appears.
Describes in your own words the content of your passage. In other words, what is the information that this passage conveys?
Introduce (with full title and date) and orient your reader to the primary source you have chosen (from the list above)
Identify a particular detail, aspect, or idea in your primary source that you find interesting.
Explain why you find that detail, aspect, or idea interesting.
Craft an argument about how your secondary-source passage offers an effective means of coming to a new understanding of that particular detail, aspect, or idea found in your primary source.

Formatting Guidelines:

Use 12-point Times New Roman font
Margins of no more than 1 inch
Cite your source using proper MLA in-text citation. You do not need a “Works Cited” page, however. For a quick and easy guide for how to do proper MLA in-text citation see:


To Orient/Orienting: Bits of information, explanation, and summary that orient the reader. The amount of orienting, or context, a writer provides depends on readers’ likely expertise in the subject. Even experts require some orienting; those with less expertise require more. For the purposes of this class, assume your reader is a college freshman.

Argument: An arguable claim—i.e., an assertion someone could reasonably argue against; as such, it provides unexpected insight, goes beyond superficial interpretations, or challenges, corrects, or extends other arguments.

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