This course is discontinued

CONT4403 – Jesus in Cultural Complexity

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This statement from Paul’s letter to the Galatians presents some of the divisions in the ancient world in terms of ethnicity, class and gender. Did the Jesus movement represent a new inclusive practice, or was this a “spiritual” ideology that did not break with social hierarchies?
Can we say today that in our society there is neither Norwegian nor Pakistani, there is neither businessman nor sex-slave, there is neither heterosexual nor homosexual? Categories like gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class are used to construct sameness and difference between persons or groups. But how do the various categories intersect and reinforce each other, and why do they generate systems of prejudices and discrimination? We will employ recent theories of intersectionality aiming at understanding a complex world today, to study biblical texts.
If the roots of Christianity were planted in a context of cultural complexity, in what ways can ancient notions about identity be used to challenge, critique or legitimate power structures today? The goal is to establish an interaction between early Christian ideas about hierarchy and equality and our global world characterized by another type of complexity.

Learning outcome

Upon completion of the course, the student should have
1. gain insight in the discussion of intersectionality aiming at understanding a complex world today
2. established knowledge about some central New Testament texts dealing with issues of gender, sexuality, class and ethnicity and the complicated process of interpreting them
3. developed skills enabling them to discuss and understand some of the ideas that constructed hierarchy and equality in early Christian texts, and how such ideas influence our culture


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Recommended previous knowledge

Students are recommended to have some basic knowledge in biblical studies.


This course is offered autumn 2009, and with English as instructional language.

Obligatory requirements:

In mid September student groups of two or three will have oral presentations formed as an introduction to discussion for the class, based on course literature.
In October each student will complete one small essay (some 1000 words) after discussing the topic with the teacher. Papers may be written in English or Norwegian.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


A three days home exam of some 3000-4000 words, submitted individually.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

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

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Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Students who due to illness or other valid reason of absence were unable to sit for their final exams may apply for participation in make-up exams. Make-up exams are arranged either later in the same semester or early in the semester following the exam in question. Documentation of valid reasons for absence from the regular exam must be submitted upon application to participate in make-up exams.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2009


Autumn 2009

Teaching language