The Geography of Faith: Paul and the Emergence of Christianity in the Aegean

Taught on site in Greece and Turkey

Sarah Lawrence faculty member Cameron Afzal will introduce students to the Greco-Roman world and the impact of the Apostle Paul’s work in major urban centers of the Eastern Mediterranean. The class will focus on religion and life in the ancient Greek city with a view to understanding how Christianity took root and grew in these cities; as such, students will be introduced to the Pauline Epistles and the social world implied therein. This will be accomplished with a combination of seminar work in the classroom and site visits to the major ancient sites where Paul lived and worked.

The program base will be located on the campus of the College Year in Athens Program. When in Athens, students will be living in shared apartments provided by College Year in Athens (CYA). When travelling, students will be in shared hotel rooms. 

Our study will begin in Athens in the classroom and then continue in the ancient streets and byways of some of the major cities where Paul worked and taught:  

  • Ephesus in Turkey
  • Philippi, Thessalonica in Macedonia
  • Corinth in the Peloponnesus

As a part of a general introduction to life in the Ancient Greek city, the class will also visit the following important classical sites:

  • The Acropolis
  • Ancient Agora
  • The ancient cemetery at Kerameichos in Athens
  • The site of Aphrodisias in Turkey
  • Site visits to Eleusis and Delphi, major centers of Greek religious life in the First Century

We will be aided in our study with visits to museums like the Archeological Museum in Athens, Thessalonica, and the Ephesus Archeology Museum in Selçuk, Turkey near the site of ancient Ephesus.

In addition to our focus on the life and work of Paul we will also have occasion in the course of our studies to explore the impact that Paul’s work ultimately had in the region with visits to various Byzantine sites:

  • The New Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessalonica
  • A trip to the Monastic site of Meteora among others from Late Antiquity

Since the class will begin and end with a week in Athens there will also be plenty of opportunity for personal exploration of the city and its many cultural offerings.

The visits above may be subject to change.

Program Schedule

This program will run from the last week in May until the last week in June. Please note that the calendar is subject to change as these dates get closer, and students will be updated accordingly. View the 2015 program schedule»

In the Athenian Agora