Greco-Roman Antiquities and Early Christianity

From the many museums around the world that house Greco-Roman antiquities,
collect a dozen or so images of artifacts that can be used to illustrate the social,
cultural, and religious environment in which early Christians lived and struggled to
define their unique Christian identity. Arrange and identify these in an appendix as
illustrated on p. 3.
Write a creative piece in which you assume the identity of an ancient character (real or
fictional) and describe your experiences of the interface between early Christianity and
the Greco-Roman social, cultural and religious environment illustrated in the artifacts
you collected. Some possible personas to assume are:
• a friend or traveling companion of Paul during his missionary work in Asia Minor
or Greece;
• Aquila or Priscilla (see Acts 18:1-3; 1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:3-5);
• a non-Christian trying to understand some Christians’ resistance to certain
common features of Greco-Roman life; or
• a new Christian convert struggling with the kinds of issues reflected in 1
Corinthians and/or other Pauline writings.
Of course, there are countless other possibilities. Be creative. Your reflection may
take the form of a narrative (short story) from your character’s perspective, a letter, a
series of letters between two friends, or another literary form that enables you to bring
out the dynamics of Christian life in a Greco-Roman setting.
Whatever particular genre you choose, your paper must do two things: (1) incorporate
specific aspects of ancient social, cultural, and religious realities as these are illustrated
in the artifacts; and (2) draw connections with specific New Testament texts, themes,
and issues. No credit will be given for a paper that does not do these two essentials.
Use footnotes such as the following (not endnotes or in-text parenthetical notes) to tie
your story to specific data and texts.
1 This scenario expands upon the conflicts envisioned in I Cor 10:20-22.
2 Artifact #2, the bronze mirror with images of Aphrodite and Eros, illustrates
this issue.
3 Artifact #5 is an example of the common practice described here.
4 This scene is analogous to that in Ephesus according to Acts 19:23-40.
Using such footnote documentation will enable you to maintain your narrative flow
and fictive setting in the main body of the paper without intrusive anachronisms, while
also anchoring your composition in the realities of Greco-Roman antiquity and the
writings of the New Testament.
Museum Assignment
Resources other than the New Testament and your collection of artifacts are not required
for this assignment. However, if you do draw upon other sources you must cite them in
footnotes and give full bibliographical information at the end in a “Works Cited” list
after your “Artifacts” page(s). Here you should follow a standard stylebook such as the
Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA style found at Purdue University’s OWL (Online
Writing Lab) website, (see especially the tabs on “Footnotes” and
“Works Cited” in the menu on the left after you go to “MLA Formatting and Style
Guide”). Every source used in writing the paper must be cited, whether a book, article,
website, blog, or other resource, even if you use an idea from a source but not its exact
words. Failure to give credit to a source that has informed your work is plagiarism and
will be treated as a violation of the code of academic ethics. Again, for purposes of this
paper, no such “outside” sources are expected, but if you do use them you must give
proper documentation. You do not need to include the Bible or your museum artifacts in
a “Works Cited” list; these two resources are assumed, and the artifacts are already
included in your “Artifacts” listing.
There is no set requirement as to length, but five to seven double-spaced pages (1500-
2100 words), not counting the “Artifacts” appendix, is a rough guideline. The excellent
paper will:
• evidence deep reflection on the New Testament and early Christianity in light of its
social, cultural, and religious context;
• show initiative for independent learning (from the museum research);
• draw thoughtful and informed connections between specific texts, themes, and
situations in the New Testament and the urban environment of the Greco-Roman
world as illustrated by your artifacts; and
• be presented in an engaging and professional manner (with careful writing,
grammar, spelling, citation style, etc.).
Submit the paper electronically as a word-processing document, not a PDF (you can do
the “Artifacts” appendix as a PDF if you need to) through Courses/Sakai by the deadline
specified on the syllabus. Your work will be automatically processed through Turnitin is a plagiarism detection service that checks your work against
others to ensure that it is unique and original. Each student retains the copyright on
original work submitted; Turnitin retains a copy of the work in its database only to
ensure that no one in the future can claim your work as his or her own.


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