Skip to main content

Early Christian Studies

A. General Description

The program in Early Christian Studies reflects the field of studies as configured and practiced today. It is concerned with both the production of the texts in antiquity and the reception of the texts since then, especially in modernity and postmodernity. It also encompasses the full range of critical approaches, from the more traditional to the more recent. It is further committed to the analysis of the social and cultural contexts of both the texts and their interpretations and interpreters.

B. Professor Fernando F. Segovia

Professor Segovia is interested in the following areas of research: the history of the field of studies; the question of method and history; the role of criticism in society and culture; the development of ideological criticism, particularly along the lines of imperial-postcolonial, ethnic-racial, and material-political criticism; the development of criticism in the Global South. He is also pursuing, as he called for in his presidential address of 2014 to the Society of Biblical Literature, the formulation of a global-systemic paradigm of interpretation, in which the recourses of the field of studies are called upon to address the major crises of the times and the crisis in the world system that underlies and unites all such crises.

C. Related Fields of Study

The research interests of this orientation is complemented by the studies of colleagues in related fields, both within and outside the Graduate Department of Religion, including:

Department of Religious Studies

Classical and Mediterranean Studies

In addition, the program is interdisciplinary in character, thus allowing for, indeed calling for, work in other fields of studies in the humanities as deemed helpful or necessary.

D. Languages

The program expects a thorough knowledge of the biblical languages, with such foundations well in place prior to arrival, as well as thorough acquaintance with modern languages essential for the research envisioned, traditionally involving French and German, although other combinations are possible. 

E. Qualifying Examinations

Within this orientation, the Qualifying Examinations consists of five major components: (1) a special area examination on the history of interpretation of the topic or text to be treated in the dissertation; (2) a general examination on auxiliary topics to be addressed in the dissertation; (3) a general examination on the critical approaches to be used in the dissertation; (4) an examination in the minor area of concentration in the program; and (5) an oral examination focused on the first draft of the dissertation proposal and addressing any questions raised by the written examination.

F. Objectives

The aim of the program in New Testament and Early Christian Studies is to prepare scholars and instructors who are not only at home in the academic-scholarly world of today but also able to teach in that world across its entire institutional spectrum.

NOTE: This description of requirements supplements The Bulletin of Vanderbilt University Graduate School and "The Guidelines of the Graduate Department of Religion." Students are expected to meet all of the common requirements of the graduate program as described in those publications.

Students in New Testament and Early Christianity are eligible for fellowships in Theology and Practice.