Sex and the Early Church examines the ways first- through sixth-century Christians addressed questions regarding human sexuality. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between sexuality and issues of gender, culture, power, and resistance. We will read a Roman gynecological manual, an ancient dating guide, the world's first harlequin romance novels, ancient pornography, early Christian martyrdom accounts, stories of female and male saints, instructions for how to best battle demons, visionary accounts, and monastic rules. These will be supplemented by modern scholarship in classics, early Christian studies, gender studies, queer studies, and the history of sexuality. The purpose of our exploration is not simply to better understand ancient views of gender and sexuality. Rather, this investigation of a society whose sexual system often seems so surprising aims to denaturalize many of our own assumptions concerning gender and sexuality. In the process, we will also examine the ways these first centuries of what eventually became the world's largest religious tradition has profoundly affected the sexual norms of our own time. The seminar assumes no prior knowledge of Judaism, Christianity, the bible, or ancient history.