Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature

Course Number
RLST 152
About the Course

This course provides a historical study of the origins of Christianity by analyzing the literature of the earliest Christian movements in historical context, concentrating on the New Testament. Although theological themes will occupy much of our attention, the course does not attempt a theological appropriation of the New Testament as scripture. Rather, the importance of the New Testament and other early Christian documents as ancient literature and as sources for historical study will be emphasized. A central organizing theme of the course will focus on the differences within early Christianity (-ies).

Course Structure
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2009. The Open Yale Courses Series. For more information about Professor Martin’s book New Testament History and Literature, http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300180855 click here.

Syllabus

Professor
Description

This course provides a historical study of the origins of Christianity by analyzing the literature of the earliest Christian movements in historical context, concentrating on the New Testament. Although theological themes will occupy much of our attention, the course does not attempt a theological appropriation of the New Testament as scripture. Rather, the importance of the New Testament and other early Christian documents as ancient literature and as sources for historical study will be emphasized. A central organizing theme of the course will focus on the differences within early Christianity (-ies).

Texts

A modern translation of the Bible. The New Revised Standard Version is recommended. A good study-Bible edition isThe New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha. Other reputable modern editions, such as The New English BibleThe Jerusalem Bible, or The New International Version, are acceptable. This is meant to exclude old versions, such as theKing James Version or the Douay Version, and modern paraphrases, such as The Living Bible.

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Requirements

Attendance at all class sessions is required and absences will affect the student’s grade. Students are expected to come to class already having read and digested the materials listed on the syllabus for that day. Students are also required to attend and actively participate in the Discussion Sections. Students must come to those sections having done the assignment and prepared to participate energetically in discussion. For each section, those students not handing in a paper will be expected to submit a paragraph on questions assigned ahead of time. Other written assignments include (1) one short exegetical paper (6 pages; “exegetical” here simply means an interpretation of a text), (2) a short paper (6 pages) on a topic of conflict in early Christianity, (3) a final paper (8 pages) on a topic to be assigned and due at a date to be assigned toward the end of term.

Grading

Paper 1: 30%
Paper 2: 30%
Final Paper: 30%
Attendance and participation: 10%

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Course Books and Other Related Titles

Yale University Press offers a 10% discount on the books used in RLST 152 that it publishes, as well as on other related titles. A portion of the proceeds from your purchases will be donated for the ongoing support and development of the Open Yale Courses program.