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The College of Arts Sciences

New Testament-Early Christian Literatures with Kim Haines-Eitzen: Course Highlight

October 23, 2017

Kim Haines-Eitzen, H. Stanley Krusen Professor of World Religions in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, specializes in Ancient Mediterranean Religions with a focus in Early Christianity, Early Judaism, and Religion in Late Antiquity. Currently, she is working on a new project, entitled A Sacred and Sonorous Desert in Late Antiquity, which focuses on the desert monastic literature of late antiquity and its attention to sensory landscapes, especially the acoustic dimensions of the desert environment. In the spring 2018 semester, she will teach "New Testament/Early Christian Literatures" (NES 2629) on Monday and Wednesday from 2:55-4:10pm.

Why is this course important for students to take?

The collection of ancient texts that came to be collected in the New Testament is diverse and historically, literarily, and thematically rich. The books have as much to say about the diversity of Judaism in antiquity as they do about the emergence of the Jesus movement within first-century Palestine. If we want to understand the historical roots of Christianity, this collection of texts is one way to begin. In the course, we attend closely to the historical context of the “biographical” texts (i.e., the Gospels), the letters of Paul and others, and the book of Revelation. We will also read the Gospel of Thomas, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and the Acts of Paul and Thecla, texts that did not come to be included in the New Testament but have much to teach us about religious diversity in the ancient world.

Earliest papyrus remains of the New Testament.

In what way does this course fit in to the department/programs overall curriculum?

This course meets the requirement for an ancient survey course for the Near Eastern Studies major and it also offers a gateway to advanced seminars in early Christian literature and history. For students who have studied some Greek, there will also be an opportunity to read some New Testament in Greek.

Ethiopian icon in the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

What are you looking forward to about teaching this course in the spring?   

I’m most looking forward to a focus on how these texts remain relevant today. Issues like gender and sexuality, poverty and justice, race and slavery, violence and peace—all of these timely themes (and many others) appear in the New Testament texts. What energizes me most about teaching is collaborative learning: the course will include substantial discussion time so that we can think collectively about how an understanding of the past is vital to engaging with our world today.