MPhil Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World

Course overview

This degree is offered jointly by the Faculty of Theology and Religion and the Faculty of Oriental Studies. The 21-month 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. Students 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, and
• 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, and
• 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.

Assessment consists of:

  • two written exams on the literature, history, and institutions of Judaism and Christianity respectively; 
  • two further written exams consisting of essay questions and passages for translation and comment from set texts relating to your chosen themes in     both Judaism and Christianity; 
  • a 20,000-word dissertation on a topic in Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World; and
  • an oral examination (viva voce) on your dissertation topic and wider knowledge of Judaism and Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World.

The choice of essay and dissertation topics is yours, albeit subject to your supervisor’s advice and the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.

Couse handbook

To review the course handbook, click here.

How to apply

For information on the application process and to apply, click here.