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University of Oxford: Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World

Institution University of Oxford
Department Theology and Religion
Telephone 01865 270059
Study type Taught


The information provided on this page was correct at the time of publication (November 2020). For complete and up-to-date information about this course, please visit the relevant University of Oxford course page via

This degree is offered jointly by the Faculty of Theology and Religion and the Faculty of Oriental Studies. The course is ideal for students wishing to learn more about the origins of Christianity by coming to grips with the complex evidence for the state of Judaism in the Graeco-Roman World in the first century.

An emphasis is placed on the detailed study of primary evidence for both Judaism and Christianity in the first and early second centuries CE. You will therefore require a good existing knowledge of both Hebrew and Greek.

The structure and content of the course ensures that you have the opportunity to pay equal attention to the history and primary texts of both religious traditions. The following two core modules examine the literature, history, and institutions of each tradition:

Judaism from 200 BCE to 200 CE Christianity to 200 CE

You choose to specialise in one further theme within each tradition. In the case of Judaism, these themes are:

  • Jewish Historiography

  • Jewish Bible Interpretation

  • Jewish Eschatology

  • Jewish Wisdom Literature.

In the case of Christianity, these themes are:

  • The Gospels and the Historical Jesus

  • The Acts and the Pauline Corpus

  • The Apostolic Fathers

  • The Apologists.

You may choose a dissertation research topic which explores a facet of one or other tradition or inter-relating aspects of the two traditions in the period.

The Oxford Faculties of Theology and Religion and of Oriental Studies, together with Oxford’s wider library resources and collections, provide an unmatched research environment for the study of Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World. Many graduates of this course have found their in-depth engagement with the Jewish background to early Christianity an excellent preparation for doctoral study in New Testament, in the history of religions in the early Roman Empire and in Jewish studies.

Master of Philosophy - MPhil

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