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The information here is for the current academic year. The papers on offer can vary from year to year.

Part IIB (third year)

Paper Choices 

Currently, students can offer the following combinations of papers:

two papers from group C, an option from paper D1, and another option from D2, or

three papers from groups C, and one option from a D paper.

They may also offer a dissertation in the place of a Group D paper.

There is also the possibility of offering an additional language paper.

Please consult the University Ordinances to check the combination of papers which can be offered. 

Paper C1a - Advanced Hebrew

Paper coordinator: Dr Kim Phillips

Assessment method: Examination

This paper is concerned with a selection of texts, and is designed (apart from their intrinsic interest) to introduce students to the special features of poetic Hebrew (parallelism, grammatical features, imagery) and also to text-critical and lexicographical problems of Hebrew generally. Throughout the course lectures and private study are expected to be supplemented by fortnightly supervision work on translation from English into Hebrew, which will be tested in the examination. The lectures will focus mainly on linguistic aspects of the texts, but their theological and literary aspects will be explored in two or three essays which students will write in the course of the year.


Paper C1b - Advanced New Testament Greek

Paper coordinator: Dr Jonathan Linebaugh

Assessment method: Examination

This paper will allow students to extend their understanding of Hellenistic Greek and also to study in detail particular texts that extend students’ familiarity with the New Testament. Students will develop skills in questions of textual criticism, language, historical background, exegesis, and theology, particularly as these are encountered through the exercise of translation. In addition to working with prescribed texts students will also develop skills in translating unseen passages which may be taken from the New Testament, other early Christian literature of similar date, or the Greek Bible.

In addition to the translation classes, four lectures on New Testament Textual Criticism will normally be offered.

The Part IIA set texts paper will normally be a pre‐requisite, but students who have taken our Part I Greek paper (or its equivalent) to a high standard will be considered.


Paper C1c - Advanced Sanskrit

Paper Coordinator: Dr Vincenzo Vergiani

Assessment method: Examination

This paper will contain passages for translation and comment from a number of texts which the Faculty Board shall from time to time prescribe, together with questions on the language and content of those texts.

Paper C1d - Advanced Qur'anic Arabic

Paper Coordinator: Dr Timothy Winter

Assessment method: Examination

This paper will contain passages for translation and comment from a number of texts which the Faculty Board shall from time to time prescribe, together with questions on the language and content of those texts.


Paper C2 - Creation and Covenant

Paper coordinator: Dr Katharine Dell.

Assessment method: Examination

Creation and covenant are two major theological themes of the Hebrew Bible, found in texts either individually or in close interaction with each other. It has been recognised in recent years that while covenant remains such a key issue in the biblical narratives, an equally important place is given to creation, and the relationship between the two has been productive in discussions of ‘Biblical theology’, both from a Jewish and a Christian perspective. This course seeks to examine these themes, and to chart changing ideas across differing social and historical contexts as represented in the Israelite material, including interaction with the creation myths of the ancient Near East. From this the paper will examine the development in scholarly perceptions of these themes, how they have evolved over time, and how far it is possible, or desirable, to explore biblical theology from either a Jewish or a Christian perspective.


Paper C3 - New Testament Christology

Paper coordinator: Dr Simon Gathercole

Assessment method: Examination

The paper will involve detailed investigation of main themes and issues involved in the study of Christology within the New Testament. The main topics that will be dealt with are: Problems and Issues involved in New Testament Christology; Questions concerning Jesus as Prophet, Son of Man, and Messiah; Messianic Hope in relation to Christology; Resurrection and the Beginnings of Christology; The Scope and Significance of Christological Titles; Wisdom, Logos and Pre-existence; Angelology and Angelomorphic Christology; Visionary Traditions and Christology; The Use of Scripture in relation to Christ; The Worship of Christ; Christology and Jewish Monotheism; Christology in John, Hebrews and Revelation; Political Significance of Christology.


Paper C5 - Topic in Christian Theology (Subject: Charity)

Paper coordinator: Dr Stephen Plant

Assessment method: Examination

This paper explores the central role of love in the Christian tradition. In particular, love is considered in relation to its practice in response to need and poverty. The paper moves from the historical development of theologies of love (charity) to their contemporary expression in institutional Charities/Faith-Based Non Governmental Organisations. In the second half of the course a range of issues facing Charities/NGOs are explored. This course may be of particular interest to students considering careers in the Charity sector.


Paper C6 - Disputed Questions in the Christian Tradition

Paper coordinator: Dr Stephen Hampton

Assessment method: Examination

The paper will examine theological problems arising within 'classical' Christian theology, in the context of the doctrines of God and the Trinity, Christology, soteriology and sanctification, and faith and rationality.  In each section of the paper, we will examine primary texts discussing aspects of the doctrines in question, comparing and assessing their various forms, alongside modern critiques of those doctrines. 


Paper C8 - The Jewish Tradition and Christianity: from Antiquity to Modernity

Paper coordinator: Dr Daniel Weiss

Assessment method: Examination

This paper will consider the relationship of the Jewish tradition to Christianity from antiquity to modernity.  It is well known that Christianity evolved in intimate discussion with Judaism, yet how far does this apply vice-versa? The paper will consider ways in which the mainstream of the Jewish tradition, from antiquity to the modern period, incorporated and was formed by responses to the theological, social and political challenges generated by interactions with Christianity. 


Paper C9 - Islam II

Paper coordinator: Dr Anthony Street

Assessment method: Examination

This paper will deal with two advanced topics in Islamic Studies specified from time to time by the Faculty Board. The Board may also from time to time prescribe texts for special study.

Prescribed Topics

A. Islamic Philosophy and Philosophical Theology: We consider notions of canon, authority and unbelief in the Islamic world prior to 1300 with special reference to the intellectual traditions of falsafa and kalām. We go on to explore disputes about the corpus of works translated from Greek, and whether these works were in conflict with Islamic texts of authority and their implicit conceptions of God’s nature, the created world and the human agent.

B. Aspects of Medieval Sufism: A series of reflections on themes in medieval Sufism, from theories of knowledge, renunciation and metaphysical systems, working especially from the texts of al-Ghazali and Ibn Arabi.


Paper C10 - Hinduism and Buddhism II

Paper coordinator: Dr Ankur Barua.

Assessment method: Examination

This course inquires with some detail into specified topics in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is not necessary to have done the Introductory course earlier, but, of course, this would be of help. As religio-cultural traditions of great antiquity and richness (over two and a half millennia in each case) which, on the one hand, have interacted in important ways, but on the other, have developed for most of their history more or less independently of the Abrahamic traditions, Hinduism and Buddhism have a great deal to offer in the exploration of what it is to be human in all the fundamental areas of human living. They have basic religious, philosophical and ethical insights and presuppositions which are not only mutually challenging, but which also interrogate many of the basic presuppositions of the Abrahamic faiths. As such, they are richly rewarding of careful study, especially on such topics as the scope and use of language in constructing and understanding our systems of reality, the nature of human suffering, compassion and fulfilment, and the goal of the ethics of the individual and community.


Paper C11 – Truth, God and Metaphysics

Paper coordinator: Professor Catherine Pickstock

Assessment method: Examination

This paper is designed to provide third year undergraduates with an in-depth understanding of the contemporary problems of theological metaphysics, especially insofar as they relate to developments within contemporary philosophy and theory; and to enable them to distinguish, and argue rationally and convincingly between alternative positions, whether religious, non- or anti-religious, and to evaluate key sources from different historical periods and philosophico-theological idioms.


Paper C12 - Theology and the Natural Sciences

Paper coordinator: Dr Andrew Davison

Assessment method: Examination

This paper covers a focused range of topics in the overlap of theology and natural sciences, with an emphasis on the nature of creaturely existence. It will consider accounts of ‘creaturehood’ from the perspectives of the biological sciences and from theological traditions, with attention to areas of agreement and disagreement, and the shape of potential dialogue. The emphasis will be on Christian theology, although consideration will also be given to the debate between theology and natural sciences in other theological traditions.


Paper D1b - Jesus and Paul in the Second Century

Paper coordinator: Dr Simon Gathercole

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

The paper will examine the reception of traditions relating to Jesus and to Paul in early Christian writings of the second century. Students will be introduced to a range of early Christian writings without reference to subsequent categories of ‘orthodox’ and ‘heretical’, and to the variety of ways in which Jesus and Paul are presented or used (or ‘received’). By discovering the variety of forms of reception, whether based on subsequently canonical texts or independent traditions, students will be encouraged to recognise how different factors and contexts influence any reception, and also to reflect on the influence of this period on the later reception of Jesus and Paul. 


Paper D1d - The Holy Spirit and Christian Experience

Paper coordinator: Dr Simeon Zahl

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

This seminar-based paper is concerned with the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It pays particular attention to the relation between the Holy Spirit and the experiences and practices of Christians. Through discussions of classic theological texts from a variety of periods and traditions, the paper will examine a series of major topics in pneumatology, including: the trinitarian identity of the Spirit; the work of the Spirit in relation to baptism, grace, sanctification, and Christian practices; problems of self-deception and authority in discernment of the Spirit; the nature and significance of pentecostal theology; and the role of spirituality and experience in theological method. An important theme of the paper will be the work of the Spirit in relationship to affect, embodiment, and materiality, and students will have freedom to draw on theoretical work from outside of the discipline of Christian theology in their examinations of these themes, in conversation with classic theological texts.


Paper D1e - Philosophy in the Long Middle Ages

Paper coordinator: Professor John Marenbon

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

This paper is borrowed from the Philosophy Faculty:


Paper D1f - Conversion and Abrahamic Religions

Paper coordinator: Professor Esra Ozyurek

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

This paper will introduce students to religious conversion as a form of interreligious relation among Abrahamic Religions. The paper builds on the findings of sociology, psychology, and anthropology.


Paper D1g - Self and Salvation in Indian and Western Thought

Paper coordinator: Dr Douglas Hedley and Dr Ankur Barua

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

This is a broad-brush paper, which treats of the theme of "selfhood" and "salvation". These are western terms, of course, aligned for alliterative effect, but the aim is to focus on the condition of self-consciousness and its fulfillment in a comparative context. "Self-consciousness" need not refer (only) to human personhood, as we shall see, nor "salvation" to (ultimate) communion with a personal God. This will come out more clearly in the course's comparative context of Indian (viz. Hindu and Buddhist) and western (i.e. western Christian and secular) thought. Thus "self" and "salvation" in more attenuated senses, e.g. those of Plato, Plotinus, Hegel, the Buddhists and the Samkhyas, will also be considered.

It is a defining mark of human beings that they are self-aware, capable of reflecting on existence, the world, and human fulfillment, particularly in a religious context. This course is meant to give a leading insight, from the point of view of philosophy and the history of ideas, into the human exploration of this process, in a western and Indian context.

The comparative method of the course in the increasingly global framework of our lives is meant to be a particularly advantageous component educationally.


Paper D2a – Councils in Context

Paper coordinator: Dr Thomas Graumann

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

The course will address questions such as the conduct of discussion and methods of decision making at synods, their theological achievements, questions of standing and authority of councils, the mirroring of social reality and the formation of church organisation in disciplinary rulings. The paper will introduce students to the texts produced by, or relating to, these councils. It will be based largely on primary sources and intends to teach skills and methods of source analysis and interpretation, as well as discussing questions and topics prominent in recent scholarship. This focus and style requires examination by long essay to allow the source-based and in-depth analysis of exemplary conciliar contexts.


Paper D2b - Apocalypse

Paper coordinator: Dr Joe Webster

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

The paper introduces students to anthropological and other social scientific reflections on apocalyptic and millenarian religion across space and time. Using contemporary ethnographic case studies while taking a long view of historical events, it examines the ancient roots of millennialism, its foundational texts, its charismatic leaders and prophets, and its (ostensibly) secular expressions.

Paper D2c - Philosophy, Ethics and the Other

Paper coordinator: Dr Daniel Weiss

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

This paper will introduce students to perennial questions concerning how one should live; the relationship between affect and religious outlook and truth; the relation of scripture and revelation to philosophy; and the significance of ‘the other’ for understanding one’s own moral and intellectual life. It will address these questions with reference to a range of sources, for example, Maimonides, Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Kant, Cohen, Buber, Weil and Levinas; a philosophical lineage which has been influential on a range of disciplines.


Paper D2d - Judaism and Hellenism

Paper coordinator: Dr Jim Aitken

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

The issue of how Jewish identity was formed in contact with Hellenistic tradition will be studied in relation to the literature, history and religion of the period. Attention will be given to the development of biblical tradition in the setting of Greek and Roman culture, utilising where appropriate pagan and Christian sources as well as Jewish. There will also be consideration of historical sources and archaeological evidence for the interaction of Jews with their surrounding cultures, and the problems of defining and delineating identity will be discussed.

The period begins with the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek and continues beyond the composition and compilation of the Mishnah in Hebrew, a time in which Jews negotiated with, adopted or reacted against Hellenism. The paper takes up some texts and themes encountered in other papers on the Old Testament, New Testament, ancient history, the early church, and Judaism; but it draws special attention to the interaction of Judaism and Hellenism. Some basic knowledge of Hebrew or Greek is helpful, but not required.


Paper D2e - World Christianities - Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianities Worldwide

Paper coordinator: Dr Jörg Haustein

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

The paper will provide a regionally diverse introduction to Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianities worldwide, together with a critical evaluation of the most important scholarly debates in the field.


Paper D2f - Topics in Christian ethics

Paper coordinator: Dr Michael Banner

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

The seminar-based paper will consider the debates about the nature of Christian ethics and moral theology in the modern period, and will test conceptions of Christian ethics through a close engagement with contemporary questions to do especially with certainsites of precarity: specifically migration, slavery, incarceration and old age. It will require attention to issues of methodology in their own right, but also to the nature and possibility of the contribution of Christian moral thought to debates in the current social


Paper D2g - The Play of Imagination

Paper coordinator: Dr Douglas Hedley.

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

The aim of this paper is to explore the links between aesthetics, imagination and religion. The term ‘play’ in English is richly polyvalent: make believe, sport, dalliance, theatre, etc. The concept can be most fertile when considering the phenomenon of religion philosophically. Wittgenstein employs the language of ‘games’ to explain meaning. Robert Bellah has used ‘play’ to explain the emergence of religion

This paper will introduce students to religious conversion as a form of interreligious relation among Abrahamic Religions. The paper builds on the findings of sociology, psychology, and anthropology.