Online Participation

Online participation is required of every student, every week. You can log into the weekly Sakai forums directly here:


Weekly Discussion Forums


(If you are not already logged into Sakai on your computer, you will be prompted to do so when you click the link.)


Go directly to the appropriate week's topic. You may either start a new thread, or respond to an existing thread. Your post should engage directly with some aspect of the reading. You may pose a question (or provide an answer to a question someone has already asked) or provide a thought or simply remark on the reading. Remember, the central goal of this class is to figure out how and why people produce certain kinds of knowledges, so your comments should help point the class in that direction.


All postings should be up by Monday morning at the latest.



Background presentation

Every student must present at least one background topic (usually on a theoretical aspect of the week's readings) during the semester. Based on the size and interests of the class, there may be more than one presentation per week. Suggested topics are listed below each week's readings on the syllabus page; students may also come up with other background topics that they think might be interesting and helpful.


Your presentation should last no longer than ten minutes, and should include at least the following:


- essential people, dates, events, and places (whichever are relevant)

- major themes and terms related to the topic (be sure to provide brief definitions)

- "afterlives" of the topic (how your topic has been expanded or developed)


It would also be useful to provide some linkage with the week's readings in discussing your topic. It may be useful to prepare a one-page handout for the class to help structure your presentation.


You may use whatever sources you think are relevant and reliable, including things like Google and Wikipedia and other online encyclopedia sources. Include your sources of information on your handout (or, if you have not prepared a handout, be ready to describe your sources of information). This assignment is not a formal research assignment, so sourcing is relaxed... but try to avoid relying on any sources you would be embarrassed to tell the rest of the class about.


You can find a list of online sources, as well as some pointers toward good reference works in Honnold Library, on the links and resources page of this website.



Midterm essay


In the week before spring break, a take-home essay assignment will be distributed in class (and simultaneously posted on Sakai, and this website). The assignment will be a 5-7 page essay asking you to evaluate the use of a particular body of theory in a recent essay (also posted online) of early Christian studies. Check back here in March for more details.



Final paper


A 10-20 page research paper will be due during finals week. Students are required to meet with the professor to establish a topic, and should do so by the return from spring break. Topics are wide open, but should engage the question of how and why early Christian studies (and New Testament studies) have been so vividly engaged with modern, and postmodern, forms of critical theory for the past several decades.


Suggest topic will be posted here beginning in late January, under the following categories:


I. How has theory been used? Tracing a particular theoretical model or way of thinking as it has been used in different areas of early Christian studies


II. How can theory be used? Applying a particular theoretical model or way of thinking to an early Christian text, event, or figure to open up new ways of understanding it/that/him/her


III. How did they use theory? A long-form review essay of a book-length work of early Christian studies scholarship that engages directly with particular theoretical models or ways of thinking


Formatting instructions will be posted here later in the semester.


The last week of class will be spend workshopping the final papers: everyone must post some fragment of their final paper by the Friday before the last class; it may be a few pages, an outline, notes, ideas. Come to class ready to discuss your paper and provide helpful suggestions to the rest of the class.



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