F603 Fall 2018 Saint Paul and the First Christians
Wednesdays, 9:40–11:05, Oct. 10–Oct. 31
Instructor: Jack Dalby
The origins of Christianity remain largely mysterious. To this day, historians debate exactly what happened at that “big bang” moment nearly 2,000 years ago. How, they ask, did a tiny group of apocalyptic Jews, located in the backwaters of first century Palestine, disciples of a crucified, itinerant Jewish preacher, start a religious movement that would one day grow to include over two billion adherents? In these academically-based lectures, we will attempt to answer this question. Some of the topics for discussion are: What are our sources for understanding Christian origins? What are their strengths and limitations? When does Christianity begin? What can we say historically about the resurrection of Jesus? Who was St. Paul and how did he go from being a persecutor of early Christians to becoming their leading proponent? Was there one Christianity or many? Were Christians persecuted? What were the earliest Christian rites and prayers?
Jack Dalby, president of White Oak Communications, is an OLLI member and has taught previous classes on the historical Jesus and early Christianity. He holds a BS in communication arts from James Madison University and has taken graduate classes with the history department at Mason.