Religions of Late Antiquity: Judaism and Christianity


This Ph.D. program is devoted to the study of Judaism and Christianity, each in light of the other and in light of the religions, cultures, and societies of the Roman Empire and the Near East in late antiquity (1st -5th centuries C.E.). The program is predicated on the assumption that a knowledge of Judaism is essential for a full understanding of the history of Christianity, that a knowledge of Christianity is essential for a full understanding of the history of Judaism, and that a knowledge of the Greco-Roman world, its culture, society, and institutions, is essential for all students of either ancient Judaism or ancient Christianity. Students will typically choose to concentrate in either Jewish or Christian materials.

Requirements and Exams

In their coursework students will be expected to take at least two courses on the history of the religions, cultures and societies of the Mediterranean world of late antiquity, and at least two courses that explore the interaction of Judaism and Christianity during the same period. Advanced knowledge of Greek or Hebrew is required for admission. Before taking the general examinations, students must demonstrate knowledge of the other language (Greek or Hebrew) at the intermediate level or above; as well as reading knowledge of two modern research languages (typically German and French). A third ancient language where relevant to the student’s interests (e.g. Latin, Coptic, Syriac) is highly recommended. The comprehensive examination will be tailored for each student, but the basic format is the same for all:

  • First exam - theories and methods in the study of religion
  • Second exam - history of Jews and Judaism, Christians and Christianity in the Mediterranean world of late antiquity
  • Third exam - translation and interpretation of ancient literary texts and other materials
  • Fourth exam - area of specialization, usually related broadly to the subject matter of the proposed dissertation

Recent and current dissertation topics include:

  • Ecclesia Laus Corinthiensis: Negotiating Ethnicity under Empire
  • Carnal Resurrection: Sexuality and Sexual Difference in Early Christianity
  • Economics and Gender: The Socioeconomic Religious Status of Women in Asia Minor in the First Two Centuries of the Common Era
  • Ekklesia: 1. Corinthians in the Context of Ancient Democratic Discourse
  • The Power of Silence: The Empty Temple Mount in Late Antique Jerusalem