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Foundations of Early Christian Tradition


Admission requirements

In addition to the general rules set out for admission to the master program students are required to possess a good knowledge of Greek and some familiarity with Biblical, especially New Testament, literature and history. Minimum number of participants 3.

The course can also be chosen for the BA-Keuzevak.


This course aims at providing students insight into the reception and development of key theological, sociological and cultural impulses during the development of earliest Christianity until about 200 CE. What role did Jewish communities and Jewish theological issues play in the process of Christian identity formation? How did non-Jewish environments affect the process? Are there geographic variations? How were traditions about the “historical Jesus” taken up and brought into dialogue with various contexts and situations? How can the interrelationship between literature and history be addressed on a sound methodological basis?

Course objectives

Students will be familiar with the origins and developments of fundamental teachings, rituals and attitudes of early Christian communities in their Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts.


See Time table.

Mode of instruction

Seminar style (lecture elements, discussion, presentations, self-study). 2 hours class plus 3 hours reading and preparation per week, plus participation in New Testament Workgroup (NTW).

Weekly meetings (12 × 2 hrs) 24 hrs
Weekly reading assignments (12 × 3 hrs) 36 hrs
Presentation 20 hrs
Paper 40 hrs
Participation in graduate seminar “NTW” 20 hrs
Total 140 hrs

Assessment method

Criteria for assessment are active and critical participation during class and quality of papers. Each student has to prepare 2 short presentations and submit one in writing.


Yes, Blackboard is used in this class.

Reading list

To be announced in class.


Via uSis.
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.
To sign up for the class contact course leader Prof. dr. J.K. Zangenberg or student coordinator

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Prof. dr. Jürgen K. Zangenberg, Institute for Religious Studies.