The Social Setting of Early Christianity
STH TN 810
The focus of the course will be the economy, society, and culture of the Greco-Roman world in which the first Christians lived. The purpose of the course is to introduce the student to the social world that produced the New Testament and other early Christian literature, including martyrdoms and apologies. We will read primary and secondary sources on Roman history (early imperial period), ancient Judaism (from Alexander the Great to the revolt by the messianic figure Bar Kochba), Greco-Roman religions (with focus on the "pagan spirituality" of the ancient mystery religions), and the reaction by Roman magistrates and pagan intellectuals to the new Christian movement. Such context is essential for reconstructing the life, religion, society, and culture of the ancient Christians.