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    Ancient Mediterranean Religions

    General Description

    Ancient Mediterranean Religions includes the fields of Ancient Near East, Hebrew Scriptures, early and rabbinic Judaism, Greco-Roman religions, New Testament, early Christianity, and archaeology. In particular this field emphasizes the interaction among ancient Near Eastern, Hebrew, and Greek civilizations in the period prior to the conquests of Alexander the Great, and the interaction of Judaism, Christianity, and other Greco-Roman religions from Alexander to Constantine. Maintaining a strongly comparative focus, the program concentrates on the histories, cults, and literary expressions of ancient Mediterranean religions, laying particular stress on their mutually influential and polemical relationships.

    At the time of application, students are to select one of the following subfields as their primary interest:

    • Ancient Near East
    • Hebrew Scriptures
    • Early Judaism
    • Archaeology
    • Early Christianity (including New Testament)

    On the doctoral level, it is expected that the bulk of a student's classes will be in that subfield, with other course requirements being fulfilled in closely related areas.



    All students are required to take one of the following:

    • RELI 704 - Readings in Near Eastern Religions
    • RELI 718 - Readings in the Greco-Roman Religions



    All students in the field will be given placement exams in both Hebrew and Greek upon entering the program. (A different ancient language may be substituted for one of these if deemed appropriate by the faculty in the field.) Depending on their performance, they may be required to complete additional coursework in one or both languages.

    Students will be examined on two ancient languages, one (the primary research language) in a Doctoral Examination as specified in the following section and the other (the secondary language) prior to taking the Doctoral Examinations. It is expected that most students will acquire at least a third ancient language (e.g., Latin, Coptic, Aramaic, Syriac) in the course of their program.

    A solid competency in both French and German is required of all doctoral students in this field prior to their Doctoral Examinations.


    Doctoral Examinations

    Doctoral candidates will normally be required to pass five written Doctoral Examinations subsequent to the completion of coursework. The examinations will typically cover the following areas:

    1. Language: A translation examination in the language of primary research (Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic).
    2. Religions and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean: An examination focusing either on the religions of the ancient Near East (including the Hebrew scriptures) to Alexander or on the religions of the Greco-Roman world from Alexander to Constantine.
    3. History and literature of the primary field: An examination of the critical study and interpretation of selected texts in the student’s area of special focus, some in the original languages and some in translation, and of the historical developments in the period of specialization.
    4. Outside area: An examination in an area outside of the student’s specific area of research interest, whether within the field, within the Department, or within the University (e.g., a student focusing on early Judaism could choose, in consultation with the faculty advisor, to be examined in Hebrew scriptures, early Christianity, religion and culture, classics, etc.).
    5. Dissertation examination: An examination in the broad area of proposed dissertation research within the student's subfield (e.g., Pentateuchal studies, Palestinian archaeology, New Testament textual criticism, Gnosticism, early Christian apocrypha, etc.).

    The precise formats of these examinations and the relevant bibliographies to be mastered in preparation for them will be determined in consultations between the student and the faculty advisor. In most instances the examinations will cover the broad range of issues relevant to the topic, with at least one question focusing on a subtopic of particular interest to the student, on which greater knowledge and in-depth preparation will be expected.

    A student who has successfully completed the five written examinations will be given a final oral examination based on issues raised in the written exams and on matters that pertain to the area of dissertation research.



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