Course ObjectiveInsight into and knowledge of the development of ancient religions, with
an emphasis on Judaism and Christianity, in their socio-historical
context in the first three centuries CE; familiarity with various
sources, such as texts and archaeological remains, as well as
sociological and anthropological theories, and the ability to
independently discuss various developments within the changing religious
landscape of early Judaism, early Christianity, and their pagan
Course ContentDuring the three centuries following the death of Jesus of Nazareth, the
movements of his followers developed from obscure oriental sects into a
major religion of the Roman empire, threatening the positions of Judaism
and paganism. The goal of this course is to study and to understand this
In order to do so, we will study the development of the early Christian
movements in their context: Graeco-Roman society and its religious and
cultural life, which includes Judaism and pagan religions, such as the
so-called mystery cults. In addition, attention will be paid to the
social composition of the Christian communities, the role of Christian
martyrs in the growth and dissemination of the new faith, and the
confrontation between Christianity and contemporary philosophy and world
views. Last but not least, the role of Constantine at the beginning of
the fourth century will be a central issue. Ancient literary sources (in
translation), material remains, and secondary literature on the subject
will serve as the starting point of this course.
Teaching MethodsA number of instructors will guid the participants of this course
through the selected themes. Each individual week will entail a lecture
by the instructor, the reading and discussion of primary sources, and a
presentation by one of the participating students. All in all, the
classes will take the shape of a seminar.
Method of AssessmentStudents will give a presentation during one of the classes, which will
be graded on the criteria of content and presentation skills (30%) and
they will write a final exam (70%).
All sources are presented in translation, but students who master one of
the classical languages may write a research paper of 4000 words
(excluding bibliography) instead of the exam.
Students in one of the Research Master programmes should write both the
exam and a paper (presentation: 20%; exam 40%; paper 40%).
Target AudienceMaster's students in Theology and Religious Studies, Classics & Ancient
Civilizations, History, and Archaeology
|Language of Tuition||English|
|Faculty||Faculty of Humanities|
|Course Coordinator||prof. dr. L.J. Lietaert Peerbolte|
|Examiner||prof. dr. L.J. Lietaert Peerbolte|
J.W. van Henten
prof. dr. R.B. ter Haar Romeny
prof. dr. L.J. Lietaert Peerbolte
dr. N.M. Vos
J.W. van Henten
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