The class will focus on religion and life in the ancient Greek city with a view to understanding how Christianity took root and grew in these cities; as such, students will be introduced to the Pauline Epistles and the social world implied therein. This will be accomplished with a combination of seminar work in the classroom and site visits to the major ancient sites where Paul lived and worked.
Our study will begin in Athens in the classroom and then continue in the ancient streets and byways of some of the major cities where Paul worked and taught: Ephesus in Turkey Philippi, Thessalonica in Macedonia, Corinth in the Peloponnesus. As a part of a general introduction to life in the Ancient Greek city, the class will also visit the following important classical sites: The Acropolis, Ancient Agora, The ancient cemetery at Kerameichos in Athens, The site of Aphrodisias in Turkey, Site visits to Eleusis and Delphi, major centers of Greek religious life in the First Century. We will be aided in our study with visits to museums like the Archeological Museum in Athens, Thessalonica, and the Ephesus Archeology Museum in Selçuk, Turkey near the site of ancient Ephesus. In addition to our focus on the life and work of Paul we will also have occasion in the course of our studies to explore the impact that Paul’s work ultimately had in the region with visits to various Byzantine sites: The New Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessalonica A trip to the Monastic site of Meteora among others from Late Antiquity Since the class will begin and end with a week in Athens there will also be plenty of opportunity for personal exploration of the city and its many cultural offerings.
What inspired you to create this course?
My own study of early Christianity involved travel to Greece and Turkey during a sabbatical. I decided that this was an opportunity to create a course based on my site visits.
What are the goals for this course?
1. Study of primary early Christian documents, notably the epistles of Paul, in their original social and historical contexts.
2. Travel to the cities in which Paul lived and worked would be instrumental in grounding these documents in their original setting.
3. Since the class is in Greece and Turkey familiarity with general aspects of classical and late antique history will also help enrich visits to ancient sites.
How does the course taught abroad contribute to the curricular goals of the home department?
Insofar as a liberal education is enhanced with travel and familiarity with ancient sites.
What challenges have you encountered in designing a course to be taught abroad?
The cost to the student, familiarity with the country to which one is travelling, especially in terms of how to negotiate one’s way in a political and social culture different from the U.S.
How has the course developed over time, and why? If this course is new, do you anticipate any adjustments based on the pilot experience?
This is a new course for Sarah Lawrence but has been developed over a five year period with the help of a local Greek institution.
Do you believe that it is feasible to incorporate cultural learning into content courses abroad? If so, then how?
Yes, incorporate natives of the country you are travelling to in the logistics of the course.
Please describe your education abroad teaching style and philosophy.
Small seminar with question and answer conversation.
Does your approach to teaching change when you are teaching abroad? If so, how?
The course is an intensive course, covering a whole semester in a five week period. Hence one teaches all day long and is on call 24/7.
What techniques or innovations do you apply when teaching overseas?
Kindness, patience and willingness to engage each student at his or her educational level.
Have you noticed any differences about the level of material retention in courses taught abroad vs. courses taught solely on the home campus?
How do you contextualize and debrief experiential learning?
How do you assess student learning in this course? Are there any assessment methods that are particular to study abroad?
Question and answer in seminar setting, quizzes, and a final term paper.
Affiliation: Sarah Lawrence College
BA, Grinnell College. MA, McGill University. MDiv, Yale University. PhD, Columbia University. Active member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion, as well as the Catholic Biblical Association; has written on the Apocalypse of John and has taught broadly in the fields of New Testament and Early Christianity, Judaism in the Second Temple Period, the Hebrew Bible, and Late Antique Christian Mysticism. SLC, 1992–
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