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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: Religion in the Roman Provinces: The Case of Christianity (ANHI10065)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will explore multi-valent imperial Roman religion of the 1st through 3rd centuries through the lens of Christianity. Students will approach the 'rise of Christianity' not from the perspective of Christianity's later triumph but from its original grounding in the wider religious world of the Roman provinces. Early Christianity itself will be revealed to be not the monolithic institution later church historians suggest, but a diverse collection of local communities in the provinces jostling for position and resources alongside countless other cults and associations.
Course description This course offers focussed study of religion in the Roman provinces, with a particular focus on the role played by Christianity and the early Christians in the religious history of the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD. Students will learn about the diversity of Christian approaches and viewpoints. The persons, ideas, and developments of these early 'Christianities' will be defamiliarised by placing them within the traditions, mores and stereotypes of the Roman provinces. Beginning from the Roman religious 'market-place', students will look, for example, at Roman attitudes to religious behaviour (including civic cults, philosophical groups, mystery cults, magic and the unique place of Judaism), the role of women in ancient religion, Roman 'toleration' and 'persecution' of minority groups, and the mechanisms of religious communication and spread in antiquity. Students will not only gain fresh perspective on the nature of early Christianity and its development, but on recent developments in scholarship on Roman religion and provincial management. Each week will offer concentrated study of one of these topics, to allow students to build up, over the course of the semester, a rounded view of the development of religion in the Roman Empire in the first three centuries of imperial rule.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Ancient History 2a: Past and Present in the Ancient World (ANHI08014) AND Ancient History 2b: Themes and Theories in Ancient History (ANHI08013)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students should have passed Ancient History 2a and Ancient History 2b (or at the Course Organiser's discretion).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter (at least 2 of which should be in Ancient History) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the religious history of imperial Rome;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, knowledge and informed understanding of the nature of religion and religious practice in the Roman provinces;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an appreciation of the range of historical, literary, archaeological, architectural and art historical evidence pertinent to the question of Roman religion, and how this diversity allows us to approach topics from multiple angles
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, knowledge and informed understanding of the nature of earliest Christianity, its origins and its diversity;
  5. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence, thereby demonstrating also intellectual integrity and maturity, as well as an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers
Reading List
Birley, E., 'The Religion of the Roman Army', in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II. 16.2, 1895-1977.
Brent, A., The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order (Leiden, 1999).
De Blois, L. et al. (edd.), The Impact of Imperial Rome on Religions, Ritual and Religious Life in the Roman Empire (Leiden, 2006)
Esler, P. F. The Early Christian World (London, 2004).
Gradel, I., Emperor Worship and Roman Religion (Oxford, 2002).
Horsley, R. A. (edd.), Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman Imperial Society (Harriburg, 1997)
MacMullen, R., Christianizing the Roman Empire: AD 100-400 (Yale, 1984)
Price, S. R. F., Rituals and Power. The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge, 1984).
Rives, J., Religion in the Roman Empire (Malden, 2007).
Scheid, J., An Introduction to Roman Religion (Bloomington, 2003).
Schmid, S. G., 'Worshipping the emperor(s)', Journal of Roman Archaeology 14 (2001) 113-142.
Thiede, C. P., The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity (New York, 2000).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsRoman Religion Christianity
Course organiserDr James Corke-Webster
Tel: (0131 6)50 3579
Course secretary
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