Published on January 23, 2024 by Diamond Nunnally  
Nijay Headshot

Samford University's Office of the Provost Distinguished Lecture series returns on Thursday, March 14, in partnership with Howard College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biblical and Religious Studies. Nijay K. Gupta, PhD, a professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, will be the guest speaker. He will give two lectures, one in Reid Chapel and later in Brock Forum, on his upcoming book, Strange Religion: How the First Christians Were Weird, Dangerous and Compelling.

The book states, "the earliest Christians stood out for the oddness of their beliefs and practices within Roman society. They believed in unusual things, worshipped God in strange ways and lived a unique lifestyle." Gupta underscores early Christians' innovative approach to religion and how it would have seemed strange and yet compelling to followers of other religions of the ancient world.

Gupta has published more than twenty books, including A Beginner's Guide to New Testament Studies, Paul and the Language of Faith, and the award-winning and best-selling Tell Her Story: How Women Led, Taught and Ministered in the Early Church. Gupta is co-editor of the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (2nd edition), The State of New Testament Studies and the forthcoming The State of Pauline Studies. He is also the senior translator for Pauline Epistles for the New Living Translation.

“Dr. Gupta writes books quicker than I can read them," Provost J. Michael Hardin said, "We are so excited to have him speak at Samford. He is one of the leading evangelical biblical scholars in the world today."

Biblical and Religious Studies chair Roy Ciampa can attest to Gupta's brilliance. He was Ciampa's student and teaching assistant at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, while earning his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from 2001 to 2005.

"Nijay Gupta is a remarkably insightful, highly productive and widely acclaimed New Testament scholar. His teaching is guided by a deep understanding of the gospel and a deep love and concern for the needs of the church. These lectures will help us all better understand what made the early church so appealing in its own time and context,” said Ciampa.

The Provost Distinguished Lecture Series is open to the public. Convocation credit will also be available for students attending the lecture.

Event Schedule:

  • 10 a.m., Reid Chapel: "Believers: Why the First Christians' Religion was Strange, Dangerous—and Attractive"
  • 3 p.m., Brock Forum: "A Household of Faith: The Family Practices of the Early Christians"
Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.