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New Testament and Early Christian Studies

About us

Studying the New Testament and Early Christian Studies at Unisa students deal with history as well as with contemporary relevance, with the study of culture as well as with the practice of religion. New Testament Studies and Early Christian Studies ideally lead to critical and competent interaction with Christian discourse and the use of biblical literature through the analysis of the history of the interpretation of early Christian literature, the history of the discipline and their lingering effects on our understanding of the modern world.

As one of the two units of the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies we take great pride in our multi- and interdisciplinary profile. We are a creative and committed group of scholars who, through our diversity, strive for excellence in research and tuition.

Our mission

The New Testament and Early Christian Studies Unit at Unisa is home to a variety of courses covering the spectrum of research fields from the New Testament to other early Christian literature and Christian Studies in general. By enrolling into courses of our unit students will study Christianity as a cultural phenomenon and religious discourse, both with regard to its historical context of origin and its contemporary manifestation and function. The point of entry into the study of Christianity is the multi-faceted analysis of early Christian literature and its effective history. Typical fields of study include the Graeco-Roman and Jewish context of early Christianity and its literature, Christian origins and the historical Jesus, interpretation of early Christian literature, and Christian religious and cultural discourse.

Studying the New Testament and Early Christian Studies at Unisa students deal with history as well as with contemporary relevance, with the study of culture as well as with the practice of religion. New Testament Studies ideally lead to critical and competent interaction with Christian discourse and the use of biblical literature through the analysis of the history of the interpretation of early Christian literature, the history of the discipline and their lingering effects on our understanding of the modern world. We take great pride in our youthful profile. We also see ourselves as a creative and committed group of scholars who, through our diversity, strive for excellence in research and tuition.

A Brief History of New Testament Studies at Unisa

In 1960 a Department of Theology was instituted at Unisa. In 1965 three sub-departments were created within the Theology Department, one of which was a Department of Old and New Testament. From only one senior lecturer dedicated to teaching New Testament, the department grew steadily, becoming the Department of New Testament in 1984 (then with 23 staff members). Since 1976 Biblical Archaeology was also taught by the Department.

To date 12 full professors have served (of which 4 currently) in the department. From the beginning the department has been prolific in terms of research output, and both the depth and diversity of the research pursued by the department has established a formidable heritage.

In 2012, the Department of New Testament and Early Christian Studies merged with the Department of Old Testament and Ancient Eastern Studies to form the Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies. The two former Departments constitute the two academic units of the newly formed Department.