IDE4016E – Jesus in the History of Ideas: The Figure of Christ in the Past and the Present

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

Jesus is one of the most central figures in the history of humankind. Irrespective of one’s own attitudes to him as a person, it is impossible to ignore the lasting impact he has had on thinking and beliefs, and on art and society. Every epoch of the past has shaped Christ in its own image, and we also encounter him as a crucial figure in our present-day multicultural and pluralistic world.

The course shall provide knowledge about and understanding of how the figure of Jesus has been perceived through history. The topic will be studied on the basis of select texts from the Bible, particularly the New Testament gospels, and from later historical epochs. In addition, material from the history of art and literature will be taken into account.

Focus will also be on how Jesus is portrayed in other religions and in present-day popular culture, for example film and music. Academic research on the historical Jesus has flourished for over a century and in later years also the interest in the reception of him through the ages. The course will give insight into various trends and results of this research.

Learning outcome

Having completed this course, you will have acquired:

  • Good knowledge of one of the New Testament gospels
  • Overview of different perceptions of Jesus in the New Testament and in select historical epochs
  • In-depth insight into a chosen area of interest
  • Understanding of the dynamics between perceptions of Jesus and the cultural and social contexts in central historical epochs
  • Knowledge of modern research on the historical Jesus
  • Knowledge of perceptions of Jesus in various beliefs and in the modern media culture
  • Exercise in critical reflection on different perceptions of Jesus as a figure
  • Skills in analyzing, interpreting, and discussing the contents of relatively demanding primary sources and in placing them within the context of intellectual history/history of ideas
  • Skills in critical and autonomous reading of secondary literature


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


This course is given as guided reading. Depending on the number of students, the course will be organized as individual supervision or as group discussions (in 2–3 seminars). The curriculum is identical with IDE4016, but with Norwegian material replaced by a monograph in English, see Spring 2021, Curriculum


The exam is a seminar paper .The paper should be 8-10 pages long, 2300 characters per page, excl. bibliography and appendices.

All compulsory tuition activities must have been approved by the teacher before you can submit your paper for examination.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Spring 2021


Spring 2021

Teaching language