Course overview

A chance to ask historical questions about the most famous individual in history. Did Jesus even exist? What historical sources do we have about him? Are the gospels reliable? What was Jesus’ attitude to the Roman Empire? Why was he crucified? On this introductory course, you will find out what historians say about Jesus – from the issues on which most scholars agree to those on which they are bitterly divided. You will have chance to apply historical scrutiny to some early texts about Jesus – including from the New Testament – and to draw your own conclusions about what we can know and whether it matters. This course is open to people of any religion and none.

Course description

Jesus is probably the most famous individual in history but beliefs about his life are often assumed to be a matter of religious faith rather than historical inquiry. In reality, historians, theologians and others have been applying the methods of modern scholarship to the historical Jesus for the last two centuries. But at a popular level there is considerable confusion about whether Jesus existed, which traditions about him are likely to be accurate and how Jesus can be studied as a historical figure. Whatever your own religious or non-religious views, and whatever your knowledge of history, you are invited to join us in spending a day diving into vital questions about the historical Jesus. After setting the scene in the Roman-ruled Palestine of the first century, we will explore sources that relate to the life, words and actions of Jesus. We will ask how to apply an historian’s methods to consider their reliability and usefulness. You will have chance to apply some of the tests that scholars use to try to determine the accuracy of certain traditions about Jesus – and to debate how useful these tests really are. You will be able to join others in looking at selected passages from the New Testament and other first-century writings, giving you chance to draw your own conclusions. Finally, we will ask how and why this might matter to us today.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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