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Level 5

5AAT2020 Paul in Context


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee this module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Professor Edward Adams

Assessment: One 2,000-word essay (40%) and one two-hour exam (60%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: Two-hour weekly classes over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites: none

This course will introduce students to the study of Paul and his letters and enhance students’ skills in handling Pauline texts and problems of interpretation relating to them. The course will examine specific aspects of the life, work and thought of Paul, such as his conversion, his letter-writing activity, his churches, and his view of the Jewish law, and will introduce students to trends (especially recent trends) and methods in Pauline scholarship. The teaching sessions will be lecture-based but the lectures will be interactive and in each session time will be set aside for class discussion.

Sample topics 

  • Paul’s ‘conversion’
  • Paul the letter-writer
  • Paul’s churches

Preliminary reading

  • J.M.G.Barclay, Paul: A Very Brief History, 2017
  • D.G.Horrell, An Introduction to the Study of Paul, third edition, 2015 (course set text)

Further information

Module aims

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the study of Paul and his letters and the questions and techniques specific to the study of Pauline texts and their interpretation.

Learning outcomes

Generic skills

By the end of the course, students will be able to

  • engage analytically and critically with primary sources, using appropriate methods of interpretation;
  • engage critically with scholarly research and writing;
  • confidently articulate ideas and arguments in written form and in interaction with others in classroom discussion.

Course specific skills

Students will be able to:

  • assess critically trends, especially recent trends, and methodological issues in the study of Paul;
  • deploy a knowledge of the life and mission of Paul in social and historical context and gain an appreciation of his contribution to the rise of Christianity;
  • explore Paul's interactions with the communities he founded
  • analyse specific Pauline texts using discipline-specific methodology. 
Past syllabi
Previous syllabus document from academic year 2015-16 available here.

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.



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