Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity

Area of Concentration: Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity

The program in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity (CJA) includes four disciplines:

  • the Hebrew scriptures
  • Judaism, especially Second Temple and early Rabbinic Judaism
  • the New Testament and Greco-Roman world
  • other Christian sources to the early medieval period

These are frequently studied in isolation from one another. In CJA, they are studied together for their mutually illuminating interrelationships. At the same time, the integrity of each discipline is respected. Judaism is explored in its own right as well as in its relationship to Christianity. Christianity is explored by itself as well as in its dependence upon Judaism and its conscious, emerging distinction from Judaism.

In the CJA program, the scriptures are seen as expressions of faith—products of the fertile literary, historical, and theological continuum which stretches from the Babylonian Exile to the beginning of the Middle Ages. This period witnessed the gradual written composition of the Hebrew scriptures and the many facets of Judaism: Hellenistic, apocalyptic, messianic, and rabbinic. It witnessed the gradual written formulation of the New Testament, as well as the ecclesiastical and intellectual history of Christianity in dialogue with Judaism and the Greco-Roman world.

Surrounding the writings that eventually came to form the Jewish and Christian canons was a wealth of other religious and cultural literature (which this program takes seriously and which is valuable for its own sake). The literature greatly illumines the scriptural writings by portraying the world which gave birth to them and helps us understand the subsequent interpretations and elaborations of them given by the Jewish and Christian communities in the Mishna, Talmud, and Patristic literature.

Within this broad spectrum students major in either Hebrew Bible and Judaism or New Testament and early church, but a general knowledge of the whole area is to be included in their course work. Students are also immersed in the methods appropriate to study of the Near East and Greco-Roman world, and the historical and linguistic skills required to engage in this study are provided. Since the program is done in the broader context of a department of theology, course work outside the area is also required.