Historical Background of the New Testament (Zoom Course)



3 Academic Credit Hours (February 28 – May 16, 2023) –

this course has ended

Historical Background of the New Testament

Course will be held via Zoom on Tuesdays , 4 – 7 PM Israel Time



Course Description

This course is an introduction to the social, political, religious and cultural world of the Second Temple Period and the backgrounds of the New Testament. The course looks at selected issues that provide context for the study of the life of Jesus and the world of the early church.  Some of the topics addressed are Temple, Sanhedrin and Synagogue, Greco-Roman Religions and Philosophies, Jewish Sects, Rabbinic Literature and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Course Structure

The lessons will be held through a Zoom format, consisting of lectures and interactive discussions. There will be 10 three hour (with breaks) live zoom lectures. Recordings will be available to registered students to watch multiple times during the time of the course and for six weeks after it ends. It won’t be possible to download video lectures to personal PC.

We cannot ensure the quality of zoom recordings should technical failures occur. We also cannot guarantee that all parts will be recorded. Therefore, it is NOT possible to register for recordings only. Students need to participate in live lectures.

Course Goals

  1. To learn about the political, social and religious world from which both Judaism and Christianity were birthed.
  2. To clarify and illuminate the life and ministry of Jesus and the world-view of the New Testament writers.
  3. To provide the student with tools that will enhance their study of the New Testament.

Learning Outcome

After completing this course, the student should be able to:

    1. Use background information in an appropriate way to a better understanding of the New Testament and its message.
    2. View the teaching and ministry of Yeshua in relation to Judaism of his day and discuss New Testament passages in light of relevant passages in early Jewish sources.

Course Dates and Topics :

28.02 Introduction to the course
Sources and methodology
Historical overview


Developments in Judaism in the Second Temple Period: Sanhedrin, Temple and Synagogue


14.3 Jewish Sects and Parties of the Late Second Temple period: Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes and Zealots.
21.3 Second Temple Period Literature: Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
28.3 The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Yahad Sect
4.4 Greek and Hellenistic Culture
Hellenism versus Judaism;
Hellenism shaping Judaism
11.4 Passover Holiday, no class
18.4 Yeshua’s ministry in its first century Jewish context: The Historical Jesus and Jewish Teachers of his day.
25.4 Independence Day, no class
2.5 Yeshua’s Ministry in its first century Jewish Context: Prayers, Parables and Scripture Interpretation.
9.5 Roman Society and Religion
16.5 “The Way” and Diaspora “Christians” within the first century Jewish community
23.5 No Class  – Final Exam for credit students


Instructor: Dr. Sheila Gyllenberg

Sheila was born in Canada and has lived in Israel since 1983. She holds a master’s degree in Jewish History and a doctorate in Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology from Israel’s Bar Ilan University. In addition to her work as a tour guide, she teaches archaeology, history and biblical geography at Israel College of the Bible, where she heads the college’s department for Israel study tours.


  • Live Lectures via Zoom
  • February 28 – May 16, Tuesdays , 4 – 7 PM GMT+3 (Israel Time)
  • Language: English

Required Textbooks

Additional articles from other books will be provided as PDFs to the student


Course Fees

  • For Personal Enrichment  – $249 USD
  • For Academic Credit  – $750 USD

*These fees do not include required textbooks

**Payment is non-refundable