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New Testament & Early Christian MPhil Pathway


Course Co-ordinator: Dr James Carleton Paget

Prerequisites for study

Students should have a degree in Theology with a strong New Testament component and at least two years’ study of New Testament Greek.  Students who wish to do a dissertation in New Testament must do the Michaelmas Term module (Method and interpretation in New Testament studies) and may choose a second module, after discussion with their supervisor, from either the Lent Term module in New Testament or an appropriate module from another subject area.  They will also be required to do an approved language or skill.  Students who are doing an M.Phil. in another subject area may take a New Testament module, if they can demonstrate that they have studied New Testament Greek for at least two years.


Students who have undertaken two years of New Testament Greek study are expected to attend the undergraduate Advanced Greek (C1b).  All students are required to attend the M.Phil. textual criticism classes and the M.Phil. Advanced Greek seminar even if not taking one of these for examination as a skill.


Module 1: Michaelmas Term: Methods and interpretation in the New Testament (Galatians).  Students are also to attend the classes in Advanced Greek.


The focus of this module will be on Paul’s letter to the Romans.  We will engage in close textual analysis of the Greek text, discussing it from (among others) text-critical, rhetorical and theological points of view.  There will also be emphasis in the discussion on the history of, and current trends in, New Testament interpretation.  The study of Romans will then become a way of exploring the whole process of studying New Testament texts more widely.


There will be 4 classes of 1.5 hours on Romans for which candidates will be expected to prepare approximately a chapter of Greek.  Candidates will be required to write an extended essay on the epistle based upon one of the following subjects:

     Paul’s use of scripture in the Epistle to the Romans

     Paul’s understanding of the death of Christ in Romans

     Paul and Judaism in Romans

     The Relation of Romans 1-4 to chapters 5-8

Module 2: Lent Term: Issues in the study of early Christianity.  Students are also to attend the classes in Advanced Greek.


The module will seek to explore a number of major issues in the study of early Christianity, making use in particular of early Christian texts outside the New Testament canon, including works of the so-called Apostolic Fathers, the apocryphal New Testament, and the apologists.  It will also explore a variety of methods of study.


There will be 4 seminars of 1.5 hours each on the following subjects.  Students will be expected to undertake prior reading of both primary sources and secondary literature for these seminars:

     The parting of the ways

     Early Christianity and women

     Early Christianity and the state

     Difference and diversity

Candidates will be assessed by an extended essay of 5,000 words on one of the themes covered.  A precise title for the essay will be decided by the candidate and his or her supervisor by the second week of term.


Students undertaking a dissertation in New Testament are required to take EITHER a language paper OR a skills paper.  They should make their decision in discussion with their dissertation supervisor.

(A) Languages: students for the New Testament M.Phil. may take any language except Elementary Greek from the list provided below (e.g. Hebrew, Latin, German).

(B) Skills: It is anticipated that an exercise in New Testament textual criticism will be available in 2019-20, subject to confirmation.