The following is a preliminary syllabus (subject to change and emendation) indicating the topics of study and their respective readings. Students will be provided with a course reader containing all the required readings, and will not have to purchase any books in advance.

Introduction: The Jewish and Greek Religious Background

  1. The Origins of Christianity in the Resurrection Experience and the Jesus Movement
    • The Book of Acts (if you haven’t read the New Testament, perhaps also Luke or Matthew)
    • Newsome, Greeks Romans and Jews, “The Spread of Hellenism”
    • Esler, The Early Christian World, “Mediterranean Context of Early Christianity”
    • Barrett, NT Background: Selected Documents “Rabbinic Literature and Rabbinic Judaism
  2. Greek Religion
    • Homeric Hymn to Demeter
    • Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo
    • Martin, The Early Christian World, “Greco-Roman Philosophy and Religion”
    • Barrett, NT Background: Selected Documents “Mystery Religions”
    • Rice & Stambaugh, Sources for the Study of Greek Religion on Delphi, Eleusinian Mysteries, Dionysian Mysteries and the Kabeiroi at Samothrace|
    • Burkert, Greek Religion, “Individual Gods,” “Mystery Sanctuaries: The Kabeiroi and Samothrace, Eleusis, and Bacchica”
  3. Women and the Greco-Roman World
    • Kramer, Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons and Monastics (excerpts)
    • Portefaix, Sisters Rejoice “Part 1” pp. 9-58

The Life of Paul

  1. Paul, a Pharisee, Conversion and Questions of Chronology
    • Galatians 1 (Acts 9)
    • Martin, The Early Christian World, “Paul and the Development of Gentile Christianity”

The Birth of a Mixed Jewish and Gentile Community

  1. “The Antioch Incident”
    • Galatians 1-2 (Acts 13-15)
    • Meeks, The First Urban Christians, “The Urban Environment of Paul”
    • Meeks, The First Urban Christians, “The Social level of Pauline Christians”

Paul’s Missionary Journeys in Asia Minor and Greece

  1. Ephesus: Mission to the Gentiles
    • Galatians 3-5, Philemon (Acts 16:1-10)
    • Murphy O’Connor, St. Paul’s Ephesus
    • Meeks, The First Urban Christians, “The Formation of the Ekklesia”
    • Balch, Paul and the Greco-Roman World, “Paul, Households, and Families”
  2. Thessaloniki:  The Church and Persecution
    • 1 Thessalonians, (Acts 17)
    • Malherbe, Paul and the Thessalonians, “Founding the Christian Community”
    • Jewett, The Thessalonian Correspondence: Pauline Rhetoric and Mediterranean Piety, “The Setting in Thessalonica”
    • H. Koester, “Archeology and Paul in Thessalonike” in Paul and His World
  3. Philippi:  Christian Identity and The Role of Women in Paul’s Churches                       
    • Philippians (Acts 16:11-40)
    • Portefaix, Sisters Rejoice pp. 59-128
    • H. Koester, “Paul and Philippi” in Paul and His World
  4. Corinth:  Christians among Gentiles
    • (Acts 18)
    • The Corinthian Correspondence
    • Balch, Paul and the Greco-Roman World, “Paul, Households, and Families”
    • Murphy O’Conner, St. Paul’s Corinth
  5. Back to Athens: Conclusions

Course Requirements

Students may take this course for either 3 or 5 credits:

  • For 3 credits, students will participate in an intensive seminar setting with assigned readings and discussion of primary texts, as well as on-site discussion and conversation. The course will conclude with a take-home open book final exam essay. Students will be evaluated on participation, discussion (which will reflect the readings), and their written work.
  • For 5 credits, students will be pursue an independent tutorial (a conference project), which would involve an individually crafted project culminating in a term paper. This project will be determined through individual conferences at the beginning of the seminar (before travel ensues). There will be time during the last week back in Athens to use CYA library facilities and for one-on-one meetings with the professor. A draft of the paper will be due during the last week with the final paper due the beginning of August.

Reading List

We've compiled a list of books that provide background to and a deepening of what will be discussed in class, and which will be available to students in the College Year in Athens library. View reading list»

Cameron Afzal and students in the Agora Museum

Cameron Afzal and students in the Agora Museum