Jewish Christian Relations 50-500 C.E.

Instructor: Eric C. Smith, Ph.D. (he/him/his)

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Course Description:

This course considers the “parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity, beginning with the tumultuous first century (the Jewish War and the beginnings of the Jesus tradition) and continuing through the synthesis of Christianity and Empire in late antiquity. Along the way, we will consider how Christianity and Judaism emerged from a common matrix, influenced and co-created each other, and Othered each other in their processes of self-definition. We will attend especially to the problems with the “World Religions” model, ancient identity formation, the origins of Christian anti-Semitism, the effects of empire and diaspora, and modern attempts to explain the “parting.”

Becker, Adam H. and Annette Yoshiko Reed, eds. The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007.

Berzon, Todd. Classifying Christians: Ethnography, Heresiology, and the Limits of Knowledge in Late Antiquity. Oakland: University of California Press, 2016. (available as an e-book through Iliff library)

Boyarin, Daniel. Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. (Available as an e-book through Iliff library)

Drake, Susanna. Slandering the Jew: Sexuality and Difference in Early Christian Texts. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. (Available as an e-book through Iliff library)

Fredriksen, Paula. When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation. New Haven and London: Yale, 2018.

Kotrosits, Maia. Rethinking Early Christian Identity: Affect, Violence, and Belonging. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015. 

Leiu, Judith. Neither Jew Nor Greek: Constructing Early Christianity. London and New York: T&T Clark Cornerstones, 2015. (Available as an e-book through Iliff library)

Nongbri, Brent. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2013. (Available as an e-book through Iilff library)


Recommended Texts (optional for Masters students, required for Doctoral students):

Dunn, James D.G. Neither Jew Nor Greek: A Contested Identity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015.

Fredriksen, Paula. Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2010.

Course Goals

Weekly Posts (50%): Students will make four weekly posts, including reasonable interaction with the posts of others. Since this is a hybrid class, this is the equivalent of attendance and class participation. In addition, attendance at Gathering Days is mandatory and not negotiable.

Paper Proposal (10%): Due in week 5. Students will write a prospectus on a research question for their final paper.

Final Paper (40%): A final paper of 12-15 pages will investigate some aspect of early Jewish-Christian relations. This is a research paper, representing original inquiry into the research question from the proposal. As such, it will be evaluated based on use of sources, argumentation, and adherence to standards of quality at Iliff (masters students) and the JDP (doctoral students).


Other Matters:

Requests to take the course pass/fail must be made to the instructor by the end of the first week of class. Pass/fail is not an option for JDP students.

Instances of academic dishonesty will be pursued in accordance with the Masters Student Handbook for Iliff students. JDP students are bound by the DU Honor Code in this and every course.

Our communities are enriched by individuals of many faiths that have various religious observances, practices and beliefs. In affirming this diversity, it is the policy and practice of the University of Denver to provide religious accommodations for students and employees unless the accommodation would create an undue hardship. Students seeking such an accommodation should discuss this with the professor, and a solution will be reached.

Mar 24, 2020TueSay Hello! due by 05:58AM
Mar 24, 2020TueWeek 1 Overview: The Study of Jewish-Christian Relationsdue by 05:59AM
Mar 26, 2020ThuWeek 1: Primary Sourcedue by 05:59AM
Mar 28, 2020SatWeek 1: In-Depthdue by 05:59AM
Mar 31, 2020TueWeek 2 Overview: Common Matrix, Rivalry, and Polemicdue by 05:59AM
Apr 02, 2020ThuWeek 2: Primary Sourcesdue by 05:59AM
Apr 04, 2020SatWeek 2: In-Depthdue by 05:59AM
Apr 07, 2020TueWeek 3 Overview: Self-Definition and Counter-Definitiondue by 05:59AM
Apr 09, 2020ThuWeek 3: Primary Sourcesdue by 05:59AM
Apr 11, 2020SatWeek 3: In-Depthdue by 05:59AM
Apr 14, 2020TueWeek 4 Overview: Gender and Sexualitydue by 05:59AM
Apr 16, 2020ThuWeek 4: Primary Sourcedue by 05:59AM
Apr 18, 2020SatWeek 4: In-Depthdue by 05:59AM
Apr 23, 2020ThuGathering Days Schedule, Readings, and Zoom linkdue by 06:59PM
Apr 23, 2020ThuPaper Proposaldue by 06:59PM
May 05, 2020TueWeek 7 Overview: Materialismdue by 05:59AM
May 07, 2020ThuWeek 7: Primary Sourcesdue by 05:59AM
May 09, 2020SatWeek 7: In-Depthdue by 05:59AM
May 12, 2020TueWeek 8 Overview: Modern Categoriesdue by 05:59AM
May 14, 2020ThuWeek 8: Primary Sourcesdue by 05:59AM
May 16, 2020SatWeek 8: In-Depthdue by 05:59AM
May 19, 2020TueWeek 9 Overview: Imperial Christianitydue by 05:59AM
May 21, 2020ThuWeek 9: Primary Sourcesdue by 05:59AM
May 23, 2020SatWeek 9: In-Depthdue by 05:59AM
May 26, 2020TueWeek 10 Overview: Late Antique, Early Medievaldue by 05:59AM
May 28, 2020ThuWeek 10: Primary Sourcesdue by 05:59AM
May 30, 2020SatWeek 10: A Concluding Primary Sourcedue by 05:59AM
Jun 02, 2020TueFinal Paperdue by 05:59AM