This course offers a socio-historical and literary introduction to the writings of the earliest Christians. The course will emphasize the importance of the historical context of these writings and will investigate the ways these texts fit into ancient Mediterranean cultures. Topics include but are not limited to: the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth; early Jewish and Christian relations; the structure and rituals of early Christian communities; the roles of women and slaves in the earliest churches; the spread of Christianity throughout the Empire; the historical significance of the apostle Paul for the development of Christian beliefs. We will also explore the concepts of apocalypticism, the resurrection, and the Christian canon as they are configured in earliest Christian literature. Throughout, the Christian canon will be read alongside the writings of pagans and Jews of the same time period as well as extra-canonical early Christian literature. Although we will study the theological concerns of first and second century Christians, this course will not address contemporary issues of theology and Christian faith.
This course fulfills General Education requirement II-B. Click here for a description of the formal learning objectives for the course.
Section 1 of this course meets T/Th 10:00-11:45 in WPC 218.
Section 2 of this course meets T/Th 1:00-2:45 in WPC 218.
Click here to download a printable pdf of the syllabus.