GTX 3331

  • Spring 2024
  • MW 11:00am–12:15pm, Brooks 170
  • Instructor: Alan Jacobs

Bradley P. Holt:

Spirituality consists of the existential forms of life that we adopt in order to live in this universe. It is walking in the spirit. For Christians, this means walking in the Holy Spirit of the risen Jesus. In this walking, we may distinguish our being, our relationships, and our practices, for these three constitute our humanity.

Lawrence S. Cunningham and Keith J. Egan:

Christian spirituality is the lived encounter with Jesus Christ in the Spirit. In that sense, Christian spirituality is concerned not so much with the doctrines of Christianity as with the ways those teachings shape us as individuals who are part of the Christian community who live in the larger world.

Jaroslav Pelikan:

It was in the aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon that Maximus Confessor attained his historic importance, both for the history of spirituality and for the history of dogma (a distinction that he would not have accepted since, as everyone of these treatises makes abundantly clear, there was for him no spirituality apart from dogma, and no dogma apart from spirituality).


Follow the links to the PDFs and print them out and bring them to class on the days that we’re studying them. It is important for many reasons (some of which I will explain to you) that you use paper texts rather than reading on screens.

  • Augustine, Enchiridion (Gateway: 978–0060652388)
  • Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings (Paulist: 978–0809126590)
  • Martin Luther, “The Freedom of a Christian” PDF
  • Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises PDF — only pages 16–78 need to be printed out and read
  • John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
  • T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
  • C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
  • Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

As you will see below, some other texts will be handed out in class.


  • Pop reading quizzes on most of your assigned readings, worth a total of 34% of your final grade. Quizzes will ordinarily be given on the day that a work or passage is assigned, though I reserve the right to issue a quiz at any time. Note that there is a reading-heavy course, and for that reason it is not a writing-heavy course.
  • Three take-home essay exams, each of which will require you to explicate a passage (chosen by me) from our readings, and each of which will be worth 22% of your final grade. Typically you will receive three passages and will choose one of of them to explicate, which you will do in somewhere around 1200 words. You will receive your passages around 48–72 hours before the exam due date.
  • Borderline grades will be determined by class participation.
  • Those who wish to take this course for Honors credit will need to write about one additional passage on one of your three take-home exams (your choice) and will need to achieve a grade of 80% or above on the reading quizzes.




1/18 • Didache (c.100 A.D.) (handout)

1/23 & 1/25 • NO CLASS (I’ll be traveling this week)

1/30 • Early Christian worship (lecture with handout)

2/1 • Augustine (354–430), Enchiridion I-XLI (pp.1–52)

2/6 • Enchiridion XLII-LXXXIII (pp. 52–99)

2/8 • Enchiridion LXXXIV-CXXII (pp. 99–141)

2/13 • Maximus Confessor (c.580–662), First and Fourth Centuries on Love (pp. 35–46, 75–87)

2/15 • Maximus, “Commentary on the Our Father” (pp. 101–19)

2/20 • Maximus, “The Church’s Mystagogy” (Chapters 8–21, pp. 198–203)

2/22 • Medieval spirituality (handout); First exam due 2/23

2/27 • Further discussion of medieval spirituality

2/29 • Martin Luther (1483–1546), “The Freedom of a Christian”


3/12 • Further discussion of Luther

3/14 • Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), Spiritual Exercises

3/19 • Further discussion of the Spiritual Exercises

3/21 • Poems by John Donne (1572–1631) and George Herbert (1593–1633)

3/26 • More poems by John Donne and George Herbert

3/28 • John Bunyan (1628–1688), The Pilgrim’s Progress, pp. 1–91

4/2 • Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress, pp. 91–165

4/4 • Further discussion of The Pilgrim’s Progress

4/9 • NO CLASS: Belated Diadeloso; Second exam due

4/11 • Hymns (handout) 

4/16 • T. S. Eliot (1888–1965), “Burnt Norton” and “East Coker”

4/18 • Eliot, “The Dry Salvages” and “Little Gidding”

4/23 • C. S. Lewis (1898–1963), “The Weight of Glory” and “Learning in War-Time”

4/25 • Lewis, “The Inner Ring” and “Membership”

4/30 • Annie Dillard (b. 1945), Holy the Firm

5/2 • Continued discussion of Holy the Firm; Rowan Williams (b. 1950) , sermon at Zanzibar (handout)

5.7 • Final exam due