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Unit information: Miracles in the Christian Tradition in 2015/16

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Unit name Miracles in the Christian Tradition
Unit code THRS10055
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Muessig
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The miraculous wielded a considerable influence in the premodern world. Events which were called miracula permeated life at every level and were closely woven into the texture of Christian experience. However, in the modern period the attitude to the miraculous changed with the rise of science. This unit will examine the place of miracles in a historical and religious context. It will trace the place of the miraculous in Christianity from the New Testament to the twenty-first century. Special emphasis will be placed on the late medieval period (1200-1500).


  • To provide an in-depth understanding of the meaning and significance of miracles in the Christian tradition
  • To provide in-depth understanding of the role of miracles through the use of primary sources
  • To develop and further improve written presentation and argumentation skills through essay writing, a written examination and group work

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will be expected to have:

  • acquired adequate knowledge and skill to discuss the meaning and significance of miracles in the Christian tradition;
  • acquired adequate knowledge and skill to discuss the role of of miracles through the use of primary sources and secondary literature
  • acquired skills appropriate to level C in evaluating complex ideas and arguments.

Teaching details

Weekly 1-hour lecture, and 1-hour seminar.

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 1500 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours (50%). Both assessments test all three ILOs.

Reading and References

  • R. M. Burns, The Great Debate on Miracles: from Joseph Glanvill to David Hume (Lewisburg [Pa.]: Bucknell University Press,1981).
  • Michael Goodich, Violence and Miracle in the Fourteenth Century: Private Grief and Public Salvation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995).
  • Michael Goodich, Miracles and Wonders: The Development of the Concept of Miracle, 1150-1350 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).
  • David Johnson, Hume, Holism, and Miracles (Ithaca, N.Y. ; London : Cornell University Press, 1999).
  • Howard Clark Kee, Medicine, Miracle and Magic in New Testament Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).
  • Benedicta Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind: Theory, Record and Event, 1000-1215 ( London: Scolar Press,1982)