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Between Jerusalem and Rome: Judaism and Christianity in the First Century


Admission requirements

In addition to the general rules set out for admission to the master program students are required to have a BA either in Religious Studies, Classical Languages, Ancient History, Egyptology, Assyriology or Archaeology. Minimum number of participants 3.


The 1st c. CE did not only see the “birth” and spread of a new religion (Christianity), but also the fundamental transformation of Judaism from a sacrificial cult centered on a temple to a “Religion of the Book” as the tragic result of the first Jewish revolt against Rome. We will look into these developments on the background of the rapid expansion of the Roman Empire and its diverse and colourful religious and social life. We will look at the Jewish temple cult, the origins of the ancient synagogue, speculations on the end of the world (“apocalypticism”), Jewish “sects”, law and wisdom literature and the “Qumran community” – as well as on the rise and death of Jesus of Nazareth, Paul of Tarsus and his mission to non-Jewish Christ-believers, the first urban communities etc. – of course always with a keen eye on relevant Jewish, Early Christian and Greco-Roman texts and archaeological finds.

Course objectives

  • Understanding theoretical questions of religious transformations during the Early Roman Empire with special attention on Judaism and Early Christianity;

  • Knowledge of and insight into key persons / groups and locations related to the topics discussed in the class including relevant texts and material culture;

  • Carrying out independent research on a specific topic, related to the theme of the course.


The timetable is available on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture elements by instructor;

  • Assignments to students;

  • Presentations and discussions by students.

Course Load

Total course load 10 ec x 28 hours = 280 hours:

  • Seminars, 24 hours;

  • Study of compulsory literature, 30 hours;

  • Writing a paper (including reading/research/presentation), 226 hours.

Assessment method

Each participant has to present one short paper (not longer than 20 min., including a one-page handout, Power Points are recommended). The presentation has to be worked out into a min. 10-page paper.

For MA students the final grade will be based on:
a) The continuous oral contributions made during seminar sessions and an oral presentation (20%), demonstrating the following skills:

  • Understanding theoretical questions involved when studying ancient religions on the basis of material culture;

  • Independent research on a specific, self-chosen topic, related to the theme of the course;

  • The ability to give a clear oral report on own research results in English;

  • The ability to provide constructive academic feedback in a dynamic class environment.

b) A written paper (80%), demonstrating the following skills;

  • The ability to independently identify and select literature;

  • The ability to give a clear written report on the research results in English or Dutch;

  • The ability to engage with constructive academic feedback.

Research MA students need to hand in an extra paper of 2000 words on a specific methodological or source-related topic. This paper will receive a separate grade that will affect the final grade as follows:

  • 20% oral paper and class performance;

  • 20 % extra paper on methodology/sources;

  • 60% written paper.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average.


If the overall mark is unsatisfactory, the student can revise the written paper (60 or 80% of the final mark) after consultation with the teacher. There is no resit for the extra paper (only for Research MA students) or the oral presentation.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • course material, communication.

Reading list

To be announced in class.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Attendants who miss more than two sessions will have to repeat the course. Minimum attendance is 3 students.

Contact information

Dhr. Prof. dr. J.K. (Jürgen) Zangenberg