Pagans, Jews and Christians

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Pagans, Jews and Christians

<p>Whether you are devout or atheist, there is no denying the importance and influence of Christianity over the last 2000 years. Examine the nascent Christian faith from its origins in Judaism to its

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Whether you are devout or atheist, there is no denying the importance and influence of Christianity over the last 2000 years. Examine the nascent Christian faith from its origins in Judaism to its acceptance by the Roman emperor Constantine. Christianity was forged by its contact and conflict with various pagan religions. These dynamic interrelationships willl be discussed in an art-historical context by comparing Biblical sources to contemporary ancient texts and artefacts as well as the evidence of archaeology and forensic science.


Please note: This course teaches history, not theology.


SUGGESTED READING

  • Barnstone, W., Ed., 1984, The Other Bible (a very useful collection of ancient esoteric texts, Jewish Pseudepigrapha, Christian Apocrypha, Gnostic Scriptures, Kabbalah and Dead Sea Scrolls – all in one convenient book!), Cambridge
  • Finney, P.C., 1993, Art, Archaeology and Architecture of Early Christianity, New York
  • Jensen, R.M., 2000, Understanding Early Christian Art, New York
  • Lane Fox, R., 1986, Pagans and Christians, London
  • Magnusson, M., 1977, BC, the Archaeology of the Bible Lands, London
  • Mazar, E., 2002, The Complete Guide to the Temple Mount Excavations, Tel Aviv
  • Millard, A., 1997, revised ed., Discoveries from Bible Times: Archaeological Treasures throw light on the Bible, Oxford
  • Smith, M., 1977, Jesus the Magician, New York
  • Stevenson, J., 1987 (revised ed), A New Eusebius: Documents illustrating the history of the church to AD 337, Cambridge
  • The Bible, Collins New Revised Standard Version with Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical Books – this is the best version for scholars, well translated plain English, and the one recommended by most universities.
  • Josephus, a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian, born in Jerusalem – then part of Roman Judea – available in Penguin Classics as The Jewish War, Antiquities of the Jews and a law case Against Apion.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Historical background to the period of Jesus will look at the period of the Late Bronze Age and the Monarchy and explain the origins of the concept of a Messiah
  • Some religious aspects of the native Canaanite and Phoenician religions will be discussed in relationship to Jewish monotheism
  • The history of the Hellenistic era and the later Roman province of Judaea will be touched on in the light of the growth of the Jesus movement
  • Parallels between Christian theology and its polytheistic “competition” will be explored
  • The development of Christianity from a persecuted outsider religion (including a forensic examination of the crucifixion) to becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire will be studied
  • The symbolism of Early Christian art will also be discussed.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Have a greater appreciation of the historical contexts of the Old and New Testaments
  2. Better understand the contemporary environment of the time of Jesus and his followers
  3. Enjoy a tour around key sites related to early Judaism and Early Christianity in the Near East, Rome and other parts of the Empire
  4. Gain insight into the symbolism of Early Christian art, life and burial practices.