Rome and Teaching the New Testament (need advice)

Later in August, my family and I are taking a holiday in Rome to end our time here in Europe.  I haven’t been to Italy since I was in high school and I am very excited (my wife graciously let me choose the location of our European holiday).  One of the things I am particularly excited about is visiting those places that help illuminate the world of the New Testament, particularly Paul’s letters (and especially his letter to Rome).

Can anyone tell me the ‘must sees’ for NT archaeology (other than, of course, the colosseum and Roman forum)?  What should I be taking pictures of to use as visual aids in classes on Paul?  Basically, what would you drool over seeing in person in Rome that relates to Pauline studies?  I am specifically interested in what the normal guide books would not bring up.  But feel free to suggest anything.  Thanks!

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5 thoughts on “Rome and Teaching the New Testament (need advice)

  1. I was just there in January on a narrowly focused NT backgrounds trip. (If you don’t have a hotel, let me know…we stayed in a nice but cheap one near the Termini).

    In Rome: The colosseum is a bit ‘late’ for Pauline studies, but a ‘must see’ nonetheless. From the Colosseum west/northwest about a half mile, there’s a lot to see. I would also recommend spending time in a few museums. In my case, these were the best places to find the best pictures for NT Backgrounds, (The National Museum of Rome and Vatican Museum have a lot to offer, but I really enjoyed the Museum of Roman Civilization in EUR, a few miles south of the main city.)

    If you can take a day or two out of the city, I highly recommend a visit to Ostia (ancient port city) to get a feel for a blue-collar city. Pompeii (a bit further away) is also nice, though it was sort of a resort town. The eruption of Vesuvius has preserved a lot of amazing things. (Nearby Herculaneum was also nice, but a decent portion of this city remains unexcavated).

    Finally, I highly recommend buying Rick Steves’ ROME 2009. His advice will save you time, money, and keep your family (and belongings) safe. I hope I helped a bit!

  2. Nijay when I went to Rome a few years ago I went with the same approach. Make sure you get some pictures of the Mamertine prison. Preferably get some shots from above of you inside the prison. It seems that students enjoy the image of their professor in a prison cell! Also I would get a picture of the little stone that says Paul was buried here in the church containing his body. Also you will want a picture of the urn containing his head. There is also a 12? page series or murals somewhere, I forget where for the moment, depicting his life you might want to check out. I made sure I took a picture of every statue of Paul I could find. There are a great many of them. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend seeing Pompeii. There is nothing more interesting than actually being in a Roman city. If I remember anything else I will let you know, have fun!

  3. I’m surprised thus far that no-one has mentioned the catacombs – underground passages used in the early Christian era for cemeteries.They’re absolutely essential viewing, particularly ones that have wall paintings. There are a number of them in the city, and on the main routes into the city. Some are more accessible than others.
    The church of San Clemente is a 12th century church (with wonderful mosaics) built on a 4th century basilica, built on a Roman Mithraic temple! You can literally descend through the layers of history. There’s an underground water course that echoes beneath the lowest level. My kids thought it was brilliant/eerie.
    Best tip: Get the very best up to date guidebook that you can afford – (I can thoroughly recommend Everyman or Dorling-Kindersley guides). It’ll tell you about all of those out-of-the-way gems.There’s nothing more frustrating than wondering what you’re missing, plus in Rome it’s essential to plan a route around the seemingly haphazard opening hours.

  4. Nijay, just enjoy being in Rome and do whatever you wife wants to do, who must have been very supportive for your studies at Durham for the last 3 years. Congrats for finishing your PhD successfully!
    All the best, John

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