AP/HUMA 3421 3.00
Origins of Christianity I: Paul and The First Generation (up to 65 CE)
This course explores the literary, social and cultural context of the apostle Paul and the recipients of his letters while also considering the legacies of Paul after his death. The course begins with a study of Paul's own writings (seven letters written ca. 50-60 CE to Christian communities throughout the Mediterranean world), through early biographical traditions (the Book of Acts), and into traditions about Paul used in later conflicts between rival Christian groups (the pseudo-Pauline letters, the so-called Pastoral Epistles, the Apostolikon of Marcion, and the non-canonical Acts of Paul and the Pseudo-Clementine Romance). Emphasis will be placed on examining the Greco-Roman background to Paul's letters and on reconstructing the situations that led to the composition of the texts. The methods of history, the social sciences (sociology and anthropology), and literary and rhetorical analysis will further our understanding of key issues. Throughout, we will place our discussions of early Christianity within the framework of the ancient Mediterranean world. Students will gain some control of both the content of early Christian texts and the environment in which Christianity was born, as well as an ability to analyze primary materials from a historical perspective.