Course Summary

The political, religious, and social circumstances that surrounded the events described in the New Testament

The course is organized in three modules: (1) Early Christian Backgrounds, with units on the political and social world, the religious world, and philosophy and Christianity, (2) Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament, with units on crisis and response in Intertestamental Judaism, Judaism, and religious thought in Intertestamental Judaism, and (3) Archaeology and the New Testament, with units on the setting, Herod and the ministry of Jesus, and archaeology and the church. 3 graduate semester credits.


• Show cultural aspects of the ancient Greco-Roman world that benefit New Testament studies

• Recognize the significance of the history and thought of Judaism for New Testament studies

• Apply insights gained from archaeological finds to the study of the New Testament

Credit: 3 graduate semester credits are awarded following the completion of three multiple-choice exams, an essay exam, and a 2,000 word essay relative to archaeology.  A minimum score of 70 percent is required on each of five graded elements.  Each element is valued at 20% of the final grade. A sample multiple-choice exam follows:

The religions of the Greeks (A) explained life, spiritual forces, and man’s place in the universe, (B) pictured man as a doomed sinner, who needed to sacrifice to the gods for redemption, (C) portrayed man as a moral being, who needed token sacrifices to the gods to express thanks for their protection, (D) taught man how to cope with an immorality world.


Books and journal articles are available to the student without cost in the Electronic Collection.  If the student prefers hard copy books, the following are recommended:

Ferguson, Everett. Backgrounds of Early Christianity. 3rd ed. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,  2003. 672 pages. $30.58. ISBN: 978-0802822215 (Paperback)

McRay, John. Archaeology and the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2008. 432 pages. $30.13. ISBN: 978-0801036088 (Paperback)

Scott, J. Julius, Jr. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament.  Baker Academic, 2000. 416 pages. $14.70 ISBN: 978-0801022401 (Paperback)