Religious Studies | Paul & His Influence in Early Christianity
R325 | 4148 | Harrill


A trailblazer in early Christianity, Paul is the most powerful human
personality in the history of the Church.  His letters are the
foundations on which later Christian theology is built.  This course
introduces the critical study of Paul's literary remains as primary
sources for reconstructing the development of the Christian
movement.  After an overview of the ancient world (e.g., Second
Temple Judaism, Hellenistic and Roman history, Greek letter writing
conventions, and ancient city life), we will study Paul's
communities and ethics, examining these from the perspective of
social and cultural history.  We will then turn to Paul's theology,
concentrating on the controversial issues of grace, righteousness,
and the Jewish Law.  The course will conclude with a look at the
earliest portraits of Paul, those advanced by groups that either
admired or vilified him.  The student will study the Pauline
literature closely and will be exposed to important secondary
treatments of Paul, including areas of controversy in the
interpretation of his life and thought.

The course goals are (1) to learn about the life of Paul, his
congregations, and his influence on early Christianity in the
context of ancient Judaism and Greco-Roman society; (2) to learn how
to read the Bible critically, historically, and with understanding,
(3) to learn the fundamentals of biblical criticism and exegesis,
(4) to identify and evaluate the various ways Paul has been
appropriated in both ancient and modem times.

Requirements:  two short (68) page papers, a midterm, and a final
examination