Jewish Roman World of Jesus


The materials linked here I have used regularly in my classes on early Christianity, ancient Judaism, and Hellenistic religions over the past 40 years at Notre Dame, William and Mary, and UNC Charlotte. Many are original sources. They are organized below into six general categories:

  1. Historical Overview: Essential Beginning Readings
  2. Hellenistic/Roman Religion and Philosophy
  3. Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls
  4. Christian Origins and the New Testament
  5. Ancient Judaism
  6. Other General Areas

The these first two articles are copyrighted. You are welcome to read or print out but please do not post on-line or otherwise reproduce. I have used these two historical overviews for years in my courses and ask students to thoroughly “master” them early on as essential background.

1. Historical Overview: Essential Beginning Readings:

The Roman World of Jesus: A Historical Overview

The Jewish World of Jesus: A Historical Overview

2. Hellenistic Roman Religion and Philosophy:


Understanding Hellenistic Dualism

Divine Figures, Heroes, and Gods

Mysticism, Magic and Initiation in the Hellenistic Period

Understanding Temples and Holy Places in the Hellenistic Mediterranean World

Stoic and Cynic–Two of the Most Misunderstood Words in the English Language!

Ascent to Heaven–Understanding the Human and the Divine in the Ancient World

The Christians as the Romans Saw Them: Superstituious, Obstinate, Depraved, and Foolish

3. Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Basic Facts Regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls on One Page

Essays: Overview of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Church of the Apostles Found on Mt Zion!

Jerusalem’s Essene Gateway

Crucifixion: “That Most Wretched of Deaths” What Do We Know?

Masada Mysteries: What Do We Know About the Bones?

A Cosmic Messiah Who “Makes Live the Dead” Among the Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments (4Q521)

Dead Messiahs Who Don’t Return…



4. Christian Origins and the New Testament

Authentic Sayings of Jesus

Try Reading the “Gospel of Q” based on Luke