Who We Are

The Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins (PSCO) brings together scholars and graduate students in Philadelphia and surrounding areas for informal discussion and debate of timely issues and questions in the study of ancient Judaism, early Christianity, and cognate fields.


Each year since its inception in 1963, the Seminar hosts five to six meetings to explore a theme — ranging from pressing methodological or theoretical questions, to neglected primary or secondary sources, to timely conversations across disciplines. Meetings are informal and discussion-oriented, and invited speakers are encouraged to provide suggested readings and resources prior to their session so as to facilitate productive conversation.

Themes and co-chairs change each year, and doctoral students are especially encouraged to participate in choosing topics and speakers. The usual format of a session is a presentation of up to an hour in length by an invited speaker followed by extensive discussion with members of the Seminar. Oriented towards discussion, PSCO sessions range in format from presentations of in-progress research and methodological reflections, to panel discussions, translation projects, and text-based discussions.


The PSCO is organized under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Religious Studies and has been made possible by generous sponsorship from the Penn Humanities Forum and Penn’s Center for Ancient Studies.

Publications and Archives

The Seminar has been a valuable forum. It has produced two published volumes: the English edition of W. Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971); and S. Benko and J. J. O'Rourke, eds., The Catacombs and the Colosseum (Valley Forge: Judson, 1971), also published as Early Church History (London: Oliphants, 1972). Also, Evolution of the Synagogue: Problems and Progress, edited by Howard Clark Kee and Lynn Cohick (Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 1999) contains edited versions of presentations originally made in the Seminar.

Our electronic archives provide the minutes for several of the sessions. Bob Kraft, one of the co-founders, has written a brief history of the Seminar.