The famous Roman Forum was our second site visit of the semester. The format of our course, The New Testament in the Eternal City, includes not only classroom lectures but also site visits each week. More than simply “fun field trips”, these site visits are an integral part of the academic component of our study abroad program. Each week the site is to be integrated with the content of the classroom lecture. And while we’re on site, there is even more academic input from me and the occasional guide who leads us. So, pens, notebooks and course texts are not left behind! Instead, the site itself becomes both our classroom and the focus of our study – our “text”.
“The Roman Forum presented visual symbols of early Christianity, while the classroom lecture provided textual references to Christianity that tied the lecture and site visit together.” Jackie Gray
Our lecture was on the Roman context of early Christianity and our trip to the Roman Forum gave us a feel for what it was like to live, work, shop, participate in politics, and pray in ancient Rome. The basilicas, government buildings, temples, and areas of commerce included in the Forum helped us to understand how it functioned as the political, religious, and social center of ancient Rome.
One of the advantages of studying the New Testament in Rome is being able to have an “up close and personal” experience of the ancient Roman Empire through the architectural and artistic remains of it that can be found throughout the city. Walking into the Pantheon, climbing the stairs inside the Colosseum, or trekking through the Roman Forum are all ways to experience the Roman context of early Christianity.
“When trying to understand early Christianity, one must look at not only the religious context of this time period but the cultural framework as well…The Roman Forum allows us to get a “picture” of what life was really like historically at the time of early Christians.” Claire Beatty
“After visiting the Roman Forum, it is clear that Rome was the first true home for early Christian architecture. The Forum is filled with archaeological evidence, which reveals the transition from pagan to Christian houses of worship.” Jillian Giorgio
The Arch of Titus is important because along with the fall of Jerusalem, it also depicts the 70 AD fall of the Temple. This relates to what we learned in lecture because in Mark 13, Jesus predicts the fall of the Temple.” Amy Czarnota
“The Gospel of Mark and the Arch of Titus are two items that give us an inside look at what Rome was like during the first century AD…The relationship between the written word and the physical evidence is what gives us a more solid foundation for learning and clarifying what happened in Rome in ancient times, and most importantly for the authenticity of the New Testament.”Samantha McSweeney