No public posts in this group. You must register or login and become a member in order to post messages, and view any private posts.

Introduction to the New Testament: Historical Context of Early Christianity

ramsa026's picture

 Did Jesus of Nazareth really exist?

Who actually wrote the Gospels?

Why do Christians use symbols like the Chi Rho and a fish?

Was Paul really an anti-feminist?

Are there contradictions in the stories of Jesus' life?


Welcome to the exciting world of the Biblical Studies! New contexts and meanings have been ascribed to the New Testament as the text has traveled throughout different regions, cultures and eras. Our goal in this brief introductory course will be to read the Bible within the context of the original setting and culture of its authors (i.e. the ancient Mediterranean and Near East). This will be accomplished by employing the historical-critical method to the text. By examining several books of New Testament, particularly the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles of Paul, and the Revelation of John, students will be shown how to read the text closely and think critically about the meaning of a particular text. This course is intended for anyone interested in the learning more about the Bible, in the hope that the academic knowledge that is granted only to “religious studies majors” can be shared with the larger community.


*This course is not a “Bible study group” in the manner that many people are familiar with, concerning contemporary theological approaches to the Bible. This course will approach the Bible in an academic manner of study. Students will be presented with material that may or may not conflict with personal belief systems, and therefore must be willing to attempt to understand the information presented. Students in the class will be expected to respect various manners of biblical interpretation.

*This course is open to ALL students, regardless of religious affiliation.  Though we will be reading the New Testament, the foundational texts of Christianity, this is a great vehicle for the academic study of religion for anyone, including atheists and agnostics.

*Prior knowledge of Greek is certainly NOT NECESSARY, as we will be reading the text in English.

*Please speak up! Students are certainly encouraged to ask questions in class, but please do keep in mind that adequate time to answer may be an issue. If the class is under a time constraint, special arrangements may be made with the facilitator outside of class to answer all questions.


It is recommended that students have access to their own Bible for in-class activities and out-of-class reading, though it is not required.  I recommend the HarperCollins Study Bible, which used the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).  It is important to note, as we will see in class, that the English translation of the Bible varies greatly depending on which version you use.  You can find this book at your local Barnes&Noble, though I advise purchasing a used copy online.  If you look on, you can find copies for as little as $11.00!  Here is the information for finding the book:

Attridge, Harold W. (ed).  The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version.  New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.  ISBN: 9780060786847.

Facilitator email(s): 
[email protected]


University of Minnesota - Ford Hall (East Bank) Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
University of Minnesota - Ford Hall (East Bank) Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
Facilitator's experience: 
I have previously taught introductory courses on the Hebrew Bible at EXCO. I have also given numerous lectures on religious topics, including textual criticism of the Bible, inner-biblical exegesis, and the Dead Sea Scrolls at North Dakota State University and the Minneapolis area. I am a graduate of the University of Minnesota and where I studied religion have taken several graduate credits in biblical studies.
Facilitator phone number(s): 
Class minimum size: 
Class maximum size: 
Class times: 
Wed, 06/23/2010 (All day) - Wed, 07/21/2010 (All day)
Additional class time information: 
5 Wednesdays, 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
University of Minnesota - Ford Hall (East Bank) Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
44° 58' 26.9616" N, 93° 14' 3.12" W
Additional class location information: 
Please visit to locate Ford Hall. On the website there is a link at the bottom right-hand corner for maps and directions, where you can select Ford Hall for a map. I recommend parking in the Washington Ave Parking Ramp, which is located a short distance (two buildings) behind (East of) Ford Hall. You can also find its exact location on the U of M website.
Syndicate content