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Global Christianity


Admission requirements

General knowledge of outlines of the history of Christianity, via courses like ‘Inleiding christendom’, ‘Christendom: Middeleeuwen en Reformatie’ or ‘Modern Christendom I’. Students from outside Leiden are advised to contact Prof. Murre-van den Berg to see whether they meet the requirements via other trajectories.


The term ‘Christianity’ not only refers to the world’s largest religion (about one third of the world’s population and present in almost all countries), but also covers a wide variety of different ideas, myths, ritual and artistic practices, ethical norms and forms of organisation. In this seminar, general knowledge about the history and current diversity of global Christianity are deepened via the study of a number of important themes that are used in the study of contemporary Christianity. These come from different theoretical perspectives originating in the fields of history, religious studies, missiology and anthropology, and include themes such as conversion, inculturation, hybridity/syncretism, interreligious rivalries, ‘church and state’ and globalization. Via these themes, the four major types of Christianity, i.e., Orthodox (Eastern/Oriental), Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical/Pentecostal will be further explored in their current forms, worldwide distribution and interactions. In the second part of the class, students will explore a particular case study via the use of internetsources, especially websites produced by and for religious communities. Via these case-studies, students may bring in their interests in particular regional types of Christianity, or focus on global denominational or ecumenical organizations.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion, students – possess an updated knowledge about the current state of global Christianity; – know and are able to use critically current methods in the study of World Christianity; which include a variety of distinct theoretical approaches; – students are able to work with primary sources that pertain to the history and current state of global Christianity; – students are able to present their work adequately both orally and on paper.


See Timetable.

Mode of instruction

lectures and class room discussion (seminar style)

Assessment method

  • participation in class (including weekly readings and assignments) (20%) – classroom presentation of case study (30%) – final paper on case study (50%)


Yes, see Blackboard.

Reading list

Basic reading:
Douglas Jacobsen, The World’s Christians. Who they are, Where they are, and How they got there (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2011).

Further readings (articles) will be announced via Blackboard (about two weeks before the start of the semester).


Aanmelden via uSis en blackboard

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

H.L. Murre-van den Berg,
or check the website,
or the weblog.


This class will be taught in English; Dutch students may write their final papers in Dutch.

The class may be part of a keuzepakket christendom (15-30 EC), together with: – Inleiding christendom (voorjaar); – Rituelen en symbolen van het christendom (voorjaar) – Modern christendom I (najaar) – Modern christendom II (voorjaar) – Christendom: Middeleeuwen en Reformatie – SSS: kerkhistorisch werkgezelschap (hele jaar door, eens per maand)

For further information about admission and course, please contact H.L. Murre-van den Berg see also the weblog.