Understanding the New Testament is central to Christianity. Top schools with a New Testament track demonstrate program quality, emphasize academic research, publish frequently, have high student retention and graduation rates and are part of institutions ranked in the top 100 by major ranking organizations. Undergraduates benefit from the noted faculty in these programs, but the scope and language-intensive nature of top programs are at the doctoral level, preparing their graduates as teachers and scholars in higher education.
The nondenominational Yale University in New Haven, Conn., emphasizes academic rigor, placing high value on scholarship. Yale offers a Ph.D. in New Testament, preparing students to become scholars and teachers in the critical interpretation of the New Testament. Students study the forms and functions of early Christianity through the historical context, including early Christian communities. Students also acquire strategies for interpretation, such as through history and literature, plus training in ancient languages and literature. In addition, students are encouraged to pursue other coursework, such as Greek philosophy and Roman history. Aspiring students must demonstrate a working knowledge of classical and Koine Greek, classical Hebrew, German and French for admission.
The non-sectarian Duke University in Durham, N.C., focuses on preparing students to do research and teach. With a noted and diverse faculty, the program focuses on the Apostle Paul, the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament and biblical theology. The language requirements are extensive; students must pass competency tests in German and French, may need a knowledge of modern Hebrew and Spanish, must become proficient in biblical Hebrew and ancient Greek, in addition to studying rabbinic Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic and Latin. Students also are expected to develop an internal minor plus an external minor in another program at Duke or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The United Methodist-affiliated Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., provides a diverse, collaborative and interdisciplinary focus within the Graduate Division of Religion. The New Testament track focuses on a study of the texts within the historical context, a history of biblical interpretation and New Testament theology that is supported by faculty with a strong Hebrew Bible expertise. Various approaches to New Testament scholarship are explored, such as text-linguistic and social analysis. The program requires substantial work outside the New Testament track, such as in patristics or ethics. Students must demonstrate competence in Biblical Greek and Hebrew.
The non-church-affiliated Boston University in Boston, Mass., emphasizes academic rigor in its Doctor of Theology, or Th.D., program. The program is interdisciplinary under the tutelage of noted faculty in a program focused on theological disciplines. Students in the New Testament track take courses, such as Jesus and Paul on Poverty and Economic Issues, Greek Reading, Archeology, Religion in Ancient Ephesus, Pauline Studies and Letter to the Romans. Students participate in a mentored internship focused on teaching and research plus they apply to their major and minor instead of the program, receiving two advisers for their program of study.