Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies

CAMS/RLST 497: Race and Christianity

CAMS/RLST 497: Race and Christianity


Binyam, Yonatan


Mon, Wed


4:00 - 5:15 P.M.


Boucke Bldg 308


This course highlights topics in the study of how race and ethnicity have influenced and have in turn been influenced by the Christian religion. It investigates the category of race by analyzing debates over whether or not “race” existed in Western antiquity. It also addresses the question of race and ethnicity with reference to Jews and Judaism in the ancient Mediterranean world, in addition to surveying examples of ethnic reasoning within early Christian texts. These discussions are followed by an analysis of European forms of othering that emerge in the early modern period. Close attention is paid to the role played by slavery and the rise of capitalism in forming conceptions of race and spurring racist ideologies and practices. The second part of the course then investigates the role that Christian thought plays in shaping conceptions of whiteness and blackness, particularly focusing on the American context. The course concludes by highlighting some key African-American thinkers and their views on the relationship between race and religion.