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Seminar Early Christianity: Jews, Christians and Pagans in Roman Asia Minor


Admission requirements

This course is intended for students enrolled in the (Research) MAs Classics and Ancient Civilizations, Ancient Histiory or Religious Studies.
In addition to the general rules set out for admission to the master program, students are required to hold a BA either in Classical Languages, Ancient History, Egyptology, Assyriology, Archaeology or Religious Studies. Minimum number of participants is 3, maximum is 20.


Since the conquest by Roman armies in the 2nd century BCE, Asia Minor remained among the strategically most important and culturally most vibrant regions of the Roman empire. Long before any Roman set foot on what is now the western coast of modern Turkey, however, cities like Ephesus, Miletus or Smyrna had been hubs of cultural exchange for centuries. Regions like Phrygia, Lydia or Caria brought people of various origins, and eastern and western cultures into a creative, but not always conflict-free contact.

This seminar will examine examples of cultural exchange, focussing on such diverse places as Ephesus, Pergamon, Didyma, Hierapolis, Smyrna or Pepouza and others that bring us into contact with various forms of Greek oracles, the healing god Asklepios, indigenous priests of the Roman imperial cult, an early Christian apocalypticist, women prophets from rural Phrygia, female leaders of large Jewish communities and the 80-year old bishop of Smyrna who was eagerly awaiting his martyrdom in the arena.

Sources will be relevant Greco-Roman, Jewish and early Christian literary and non-literary texts written by authors like Pausanias, Aelius Aristides, Paul of Tarsos, John of Patmos, Josephus and many anonymous authors, and – as you certainly expected – a lot of material culture.

Course objectives


  • of the major political developments in ancient western Asia Minor;

  • of the cultural profile of some exemplary places and regions and their main Greco-Roman, Jewish and early Christian protagonists and relevant heuristics;

  • of exemplary literary and non-literary sources relevant for reconstructing the ways of life and ideologies of Greco-Roman, Jewish and early Christian inhabitants in western Asia Minor.


  • research: independent formulation of a complex research question, collecting materials, analyzing results, constructing arguments, formulating conclusions;

  • critical assessment of primary and secondary literature; oral presentation: the oral presentation will give a clear and well-argued interpretation of specific textual passages, making effective use of a handout and/or PowerPoint;

  • written presentation: the paper will offer a clear and well-structured presentation of original research.

  • the student must demonstrate his or her grasp of critical issues in recent scholarship, and assess recent scholarly contributions by confronting them with the original source material;

  • this course aims at active participation and preparation: the student demonstrates involvement in the topic by asking well-informed and constructive questions and making contributions to the collective progress, on the basis of antecedent independent preparation.

The requirements for MA and ResMA students are differentiated:

  • MA students may expect more help in choosing their topic, literature and research question, and when preparing their presentation (with handout). Their paper may consist of an assessment of the status quaestionis on a given topic.

  • ResMA students are expected to come up with their own original topic, literature and research question for the presentation (with handout). Their paper will have the more complex form of a scholarly report on a given issue discussed in current research. In addition to that, they will write a proposal / abstract for a paper to be held at a (fictitious) conference.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminar: lecture elements by instructor, assignments to students, presentations and discussions by students.

Assessment method

  • Assignments (report on research question and bibliography), for ResMA students also proposal for (fictitious) conference paper.

  • Oral presentation;

  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources and the formakl requirements of the Reader Academic Skills CAC (2019).


  • Written paper: 60 %

  • Oral presentation: 30 %

  • Assignments: 10%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor. Only the final paper can be re-taken.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

No reading requirements before seminar starts. Relevant literature will be indicated via the Bright Space class module.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal


Attendants who miss more than two sessions will have to repeat the course.