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Ethics & Early Christianity

Spring National Meeting

The Spring 2017 National Meeting has now concluded. Thank you to all who participated in person and online. Please click here to view resources from the meeting as they become available.


Rethinking Martyrdom

By Carly Daniel-Hughes

In the spring of 2015, the Christianity Seminar turned its attention to martyrdom. The Seminar’s goal is to reimagine the history of the first two centuries of Christ groups in order to do justice to the complexity and diversity of our sources. We aim to complicate the notion of a transcendent (already present, even if faintly) Christian orthodoxy in these earliest centuries. It is critical, for instance, that the architects of orthodoxy, like Eusebius of Caesarea, had much at stake in representing the church as a community of martyrs whose suffering...  Continue reading

The Fourth R Magazine

The Story of Thecla

By Perry V. Kea

The Acts of Paul and Thecla is a mid-to late-second century document. Set in the first century CE and connected to Paul, it tells the story of Thecla, a young woman engaged to be married who becomes one of Paul’s disciples. In order to be a true disciple, Thecla chooses a life of celibacy, a choice that puts her life at risk. However, whenever her life is threatened, God protects her, and she thus survives two attempts on her life. At the end of the story, Thecla becomes an evangelist. This story of Thecla provides a fascinating glimpse into an early Christian tradition that elevated the virtue of celibacy and honored female leadership.  Continue reading

Did Martin Luther Get It All Wrong about Faith in Christ?

By William O. Walker, Jr.

The debate hinges upon the translation of a simple two-word Greek phrase: pistis Christou. In short, if the Christou in pistis Christou is an objective genitive (“faith in Christ”), then Luther was right and Protestant theology since Luther has generally been on the right track so far as this issue is concerned. If, however, the Christou in pistis Christou is a subjective genitive (“the faith/faithfulness of Christ”), then Luther got it all wrong, and Protestant theology since Luther has generally been on the wrong track.  Continue reading

Gladiators and Martyrs

By Susan M. Elliott

How did prisoners who were publicly executed in horrifying and degrading ways become icons of Christian heroism, “The Martyrs” celebrated in song and story? While Christian culture now takes the martyrs’ heroic status for granted, the process by which they were transformed from objects of derision to icons of Christian heroism remains a paradox. To understand this paradox, we need to understand how another despised figure in the Roman arena became an emblem of Roman heroism: the gladiator. Continue reading

Jesus the Apprentice

By Daniel Frayer-Griggs

Where did the idea of Jesus as healer originate? The answer probably lies in the story of his apprenticeship with John the Baptist. Continue reading

Active Seminars

Christianity Seminar

Christianity Seminar

What was early Christianity really like, behind the New Testament? The Christianity Seminar reimagines how the movement that began around Jesus became Christian orthodoxy and the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Seminar on God and the Human Future

Seminar on God and the Human Future

Historical questions about the Bible can be very specific. What did Jesus really say? What date should be given the book of Acts? But when it comes to “God questions”—the meaning of God, the existence of God, the future of God—the ground shifts from critical history to metaphysical quandary. Where does one even begin? Yet a Seminar on God cannot be dismissed lightly, for there is an important sense in which God is every bit as historical as Jesus was, perhaps in a certain sense even more so.

Polebridge Press

Polebridge Catalog Winter 2017 cover
Book cover for Some Surprises from the Apostle Paul

“Anyone interested in Paul will profit by the author’s carefully crafted and well-written exploration of Paul’s letters…”
—David E. Aune, University of Notre Dame

Book Cover, The Pastorals and Polycarp

“A thoughtfully and beautifully laid out volume...”
—Dennis R. MacDonald, Claremont School of Theology

Galatians and the Rhetoric of Crisis by Nina E. Livesey

“This ground-breaking study of Paul’s polemics cannot be overlooked...”
—Magnus Zetterholm, Lund University

“... My ‘must have book’ for 2016.”
—Rex A. E. Hunt, Common Dreams Australia

“This is a wise book, don’t pass it up.”
—John D. Caputo, Syracuse University

Fall Meeting Resources

CD cover for Robbins Fall 2016 Lecture
CD cover for Wendt Fall 2016 Lecture