INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
Spring Semester 2010
Professor: Dalen C. Jackson, Ph.D.
Phone: Office: (859) 455-8191 Home: (859) 373-0848
Introduction to the writings of the New Testament, with attention to the literary character and history of the texts; the historical context of the life of Jesus and the rise of the church and Christian faith; and the role of the New Testament texts as a contemporary foundation for Christian faith.
Successful students will:
1) learn the stories and themes of the New Testament writings and their place in the historical context of early Judaism and emerging Christianity.
2) develop practices of reading with respect to critical perspectives on the literary character and literary history of the New Testament writings.
3) develop competencies for reading, and for leading faith communities to read, the biblical texts as transforming and formational Christian story.
4) develop an imagination for learning and interpreting the biblical story sacramentally and for performing it in moral, liturgical, and devotional contexts.
5) develop competency in the use of a variety of tools and methods for the study of the Bible, and with proper style for the presentation of research.
Powell, Mark Allan. Introducing the New
Testament: A Historical, Literary, and
Bible. (For a good study Bible, some good options would be the HarperCollins Study Bible, New Oxford Annotated Study Bible, Oxford Annotated Study Bible, or Access Bible.)
The class will involve lectures, discussion, and audio and/or visual presentations. Students will be expected to fulfill daily reading assignments and be prepared to discuss assigned topics for each class period. Assessment will be based primarily on exams and research assignments.
Participation: Class attendance is crucial, and students should bring the course text(s) and Bible to class. Students will be expected to have read both the assigned readings in the text and relevant sections of scripture before coming to class.
Projects: Each student will be expected to complete two projects, which are described in some detail at the end of the syllabus. Related to the latter project, students will be expected to perform a biblical text as an in-class presentation.
Two exams will be given, a mid-term and a final. The exams will consist of terms and questions from the study guides below. On each test I will give you 12-15 terms to choose from and ask you to identify 10 of them. Similarly, I will give you sets of 2-4 study questions and ask you to choose one or two questions from each set. There will not be any terms or questions on the exam which are not on the study guide below. I will want you to give me a paragraph or so on each of the terms, and the questions will vary as to how lengthy an essay they require. In both cases, I am primarily interested in having you show me what you know (not what you don't know--I'm not a stickler for names, dates, minutia, etc., although I can be impressed by them). I want to see if you have the big picture and can show more than simply memorization of factual statements. Show me how information is relevant to broader issues in the study of the Bible and theology, how it is connected to other information, how the information has been and can be studied and evaluated, different perspectives on the information, etc. Think of the identifications and essays as an opportunity to demonstrate the breadth and depth of your knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
A student may take an examination or submit an assigned project at other than the scheduled time only under extenuating circumstances and with permission from the instructor.
Cumulative grade point averages are computed on a quality point system. The interpretation of the letter grades and their quality point value is as follows:
Quality Pts. Per Credit Hr.
A Exceptional mastery of the course
A/B More than required mastery of course essentials 3.5 92%-89%
B Required mastery of course essentials 3.0 88%-82%
B/C Slightly more that course essentials 2.5 81%-78%
C Course essentials 2.0 77%-70%
D Minimal comprehension of course essentials 1.0 69%-65%
F Inadequate comprehension of course essentials 0 Below 65%
Grades for the course will be weighted as follows:
Project #1 25%
Project #2 25%
Mid-term exam 25%
Final Exam 25%
Tentative Schedule and Study Guide
Tuesday, February 2
Introductions; Overview of the Course; The New Testament in its Historical Environment
-Compare ancient Greco-Roman religion to modern Western religion.
-Discuss the socio-political structure of Roman Palestine and important social values and relationships (honor/shame, patron/client, etc.) in that culture.
-Compare and contrast two of the following groups of people in
Terms for study:
-phylactery, BCE, CE, Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Maccabean revolt, Mishnah, Talmud, Torah, Sanhedrin, Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, Herodians, Samaritans, Gentile, Caesar Augustus, Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate, Herod Agrippa I, Hellenism, Diaspora Jews, Aramaic, apocalypticism, mystery religions, Gnosticism, Docetism, purity, defilement, patron, client, honor, apostolic, catholic, exegesis, hermeneutics, Josephus (see online resources)
Tuesday, February 9
The Gospel of Mark
Powell, 81-101, 125-145
- How does the Gospel of Mark end?
-List and briefly describe the distinctive characteristics of the Gospel of Mark.
-Describe four or five of the main themes of Mark’s gospel and how they are developed in the narrative.
- Discuss Mark’s portrayal of the disciples, particularly Peter. How are they presented and why?
-Describe in order the progression of the main events in the life of
Jesus according to the gospel of Mark:
Name at least 10 significant events in
Terms for study:
- gospel, evangelist, parable, transfiguration, passion, synoptic gospels, John the Baptist, Galilee, messianic secret, kingdom of God, Peter, intercalation
Tuesday, Feb. 16
The Gospel of Matthew
- How does the Gospel of Matthew use “fulfillment statements”?
-Discuss the significance of Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.
-List and briefly describe the distinctive attributes of the Gospel of Matthew.
- Discuss the importance of “binding and loosing” for Matthew’s view of the church.
Terms for study:
- fulfillment citation, Sermon on the Mount, Beatitudes, golden rule
Tuesday, Feb. 23
The Gospel of Luke
-Describe the distinctive emphases and key themes, and distinctive features of Luke's gospel.
- Discuss the banquet motif present in Luke.
- Why does Luke use both Hellenistic and Jewish images to convey who Jesus is? Give some examples.
Terms for study:
- Theophilus, ascension, sermon on the plain, the Great Reversal (see p. 161)
Tuesday, March 2
John; Johannine Epistles
The Gospel of John
Powell, 169-189, 493-507
-List and discuss the unique features of the Gospel of John.
-Decribe the kinds of sources that some scholars suggest may lie behind John’s gospel.
-Discuss the literary motif of “misunderstanding” that occurs
in John’s Gospel.
-What is the role of the Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel?
-How does the Fourth Gospel present Jesus’ death as his “glorification”?
- What situation(s) or occasion(s) does the “love
to address in the Johannine letters?
Terms for study:
- Logos, beloved disciple, Incarnation, Signs gospel, Paraclete, propitiation, expiation
Tuesday, March 9
Jesus in History and Context; Acts
The Acts of the Apostles
Powell, 63-79, 191-213
- Powell argues that “the goal of New Testament studies is always to understand each book in its own terms” (p. 72). Why is this goal important in New Testament studies, and how is it achieved?
-When scholars examine the Gospels to study the “historical Jesus,” what are they looking for?
- The Gospel of John is said to have a “high Christology.” What does this mean?
- What is the difference between the “earthly Jesus” and the “exalted Jesus”?
- Is Acts a reliable historical witness? Briefly explain why.
- How does Luke show that God is in control and faithful in the book of Acts?
- How do the lives of the disciples in Acts mirror or parallel the life of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel? Give a few examples of this and discuss the significance of the parallels for understanding Luke-Acts.
- How is Luke’s portrayal of Paul in Acts different from Paul’s self-portrayal in the letters?
Terms for study:
- exorcism, itinerant, “we” passages, Matthias, Pentecost, Hellenists, Stephen, Saul of Tarsus, Philip, Barnabas, the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15)
Tuesday, March 23
Tuesday, March 30
Assignment Due: Project #1
Paul; 1 Thessalonians; 1 Corinthians;
Powell, 215-253, 273-291, 371-385
- Describe the basic structure of an ancient letter.
-Summarize Paul's biography, from his career as a zealous Pharisee to
his work as a missionary among Gentile populations in
- Why do some scholars argue that Paul has had a disproportionate influence on Christianity today?
- What kind of a network did Paul have with him, and for what purpose?
- How does Paul’s Christology relate to his ethics? Be sure to use specific examples of both the Christology and the ethics.
- Name one contradiction in Paul’s letters. How might one understand these contradictions as addressing contextual issues in the early Christian churches?
- What is the main purpose of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians? How does Paul achieve this purpose? Give concrete examples.
-Discuss the causes of division at
-Discuss Paul's teaching on love (agape)
in 1 Corinthians 13 in relation to the conflicts at
Terms for study:
- amanuensis, creed, chiasm, pseudepigraphy, deuteron-Pauline, eschatology, parousia, glossolalia, insula, “rapture”
Tuesday, April 6
2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon;
Powell, 293-321, 343-355, 415-425
-Describe the history of Paul’s interaction with the Corinthians in terms of a sequence of visits and letters.
- Compare this statement from the Book of Jubilees () with Paul’s own position in Galatians: “Separate yourselves from the Gentiles, and do not eat with them. Do not perform deeds like theirs, and do not become associates of theirs.” Give specific examples of behavior from the letter of Galatians.
- Define ancient friendship. Then offer at least three ways you see friendship operating in Philippians. Who is friend to whom? What qualities do friends have in the Philippians letter?
- Why is it important to remember that Paul’s letter to Philemon would be read aloud and in the public gathering of the church in Philemon’s home?
Terms for study:
- “super-apostles,” “Judaizers,” circumcision, fruit of the spirit, preexistence, Epaphroditus, Timothy, Christ Hymn, Euodia and Synteche, koinonia, Onesimus, Philemon
Tuesday, April 13
Romans; 2 Thessalonians
Powell, 255-271, 387-395
- Define the “New Perspective on Paul” and the interpretation that this new perspective offers of Paul. Compare and contrast two understandings of justification: “substitution” and “participation.”
- Discuss the meaning of Paul’s “thesis statement” in Romans 1:16–17. How can the statement be read as a summary of Paul’s theology and mission?
-Discuss the occasion and purpose of Paul’s letter to the Romans
- What do scholars learn from Romans 16 (the last chapter of the letter)?
-Discuss the practice of pseudonymity among Hellenistic-Jewish and early Christian writers.
- Compare and contrast the first and second letters to the Thessalonians. Be sure to discuss how the similarities and differences affect scholars’ thinking on the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians.
- How is the ideal community in Acts different from that of 2 Thessalonians in terms of doing work, receiving care, and the relationship of individuals to the community enterprise?
Terms for study:
- Pheobe, Prisca, Junia, justification
Tuesday, April 20
Colossians, Ephesians; Pastoral Epistles
Powell, 323-341, 357-369, 397-413
- Discuss whether or not you think Paul wrote Ephesians and what the problems are for confirming or denying the authenticity of Ephesians. What evidence and logic do you find most convincing?
- Explain the metaphor of putting on and taking off clothes in Colossians.
- Powell writes that “Colossians has become a pivotal text for considering the place of human beings in the universe and the relationship of people to the environment” (p. 368). How so? In what ways can the theology and ideas in Colossians be applied to current thinking about protecting the environment?
-Discuss the concerns for church organization and administration found in the Pastorals.
- What does it mean in 1 Timothy that a bishop be
of one wife”?
Terms for study:
- Household codes (Haustafel), realized eschatology, widows
Tuesday, April 27
Assignment Due: Project #2
- How does Hebrews “stress the continuity of Christianity with Judaism while also emphasizing the supremacy of Christianity over Judaism” (Powell, p. 433)?
- How does James define the Christian life of faith? Be sure to give concrete examples.
Terms for study:
- Septuagint, catholic letters/epistles, Melchizedek, wisdom literature/tradition, diatribe
Tuesday, May 4
1 and 2Peter; Jude, Revelation
Powell 463-491, 509-537
- What kinds of suffering were the Christians of 1 Peter experiencing? How does 1 Peter address this suffering?
- How is 2 Peter used in the Revised Common Lectionary?
- How are 2 Peter and Jude related? Identify and explore three or four parallels you see in the two texts.
- Define apocalyptic thought.
- Some people speak of “premillennialism” in relation to Revelation. What is premillennialism?
- Compare the futurist and the historical approaches to reading Revelation. Use specific examples from the text to illustrate your points.
Terms for study:
- Silvanus, apocalyptic literature, gematria, millennium
Tuesday, May 11
Instructions for Projects
Each student will be required to complete two projects: 1) a teaching presentation of a whole book of the New Testament; and 2) An exegetical project related to a particular passage from the book presented in project #1.
PROJECT #1: TEACHING A BOOK OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Step 1: Choose a book of the New Testament (or, in some cases, it may be appropriate to teach a group of books, such as the Pastoral Epistles or the Johannine letters). You will prepare a Bible study, approximately 4 hours in length, appropriate for presentation to a church or church group.
Step 2: Begin with Mark Allan Powell, Introducing the New Testament, and select 2-3 more sources that will give you a good overview of the New Testament book you have chosen. Consider other New Testament introduction books. Include at least one journal article that gives an overview of the New Testament book you have chosen or that gives an overview of recent scholarship on that book.
Step 3: Develop a lesson plan to teach this New Testament book over approximately 4 hours of contact time. (You can do 4 lessons of 1 hour, 2 lessons of 2 hours, 1 lesson of 4 hours, etc.) Consider audio-visuals, oral interpretation of the biblical text, music, interactive material, or other creative ways to present your lessons. Clarify what content you plan to cover and your teaching methods and resources. If you are using PowerPoint, submit your presentation. If a lecture, submit a detailed outline of contents. Include a bibliography of sources used.
PROJECT #2: EXEGETICAL ANALYSIS OF A NEW TESTAMENT PASSAGE
Step 1: Choose a passage from the New Testament book which you prepared to teach for Project #1. Find a passage that occurs as a reading in the Revised Common Lectionary. (Go to www.textweek.com and select “SCRIPTURE INDEX.” Select your book, then find a reading in the left-hand column.) Use this passage as a starting point for your exegetical analysis.
Step 2: Do some basic analysis of your own before turning to other resources:
Begin by reading the passage, perhaps a few times:
- Use a good translation; it may help to read a few translations
- Consider the translation methodology (You may want to review your notes from Intro to the Bible for this! Also check the introductory material to your Bible(s), which should have some information about the translation process and philosophy.)
- Read the larger context: the chapter or letter or book
Determine the limits of the passage:
- Where does the writer begin/end the thought/story?
Note your specific observations concerning the passage
- What is the internal structure of the passage? (Is there a logical development of an argument or topic, an arrangement of themes, characters, and/or topics, the repetition of key terms or concepts, a shift from one scene or character to another, or other literary and rhetorical devices? You may find it helpful to make a chart of your passage, or perhaps to write a brief paragraph describing its internal structure.)
- How does this passage fit into the larger structure of the section and/or book in which it is found?
- Is there a particular literary form of the passage to take note of (parable, miracle story, apothegm, hymn, etc.)? (=form criticism) Of the larger book (genre)?
- What key words, images, symbols are used? Any words that seem especially important or difficult?
- Where else are key words in this passage used by the same writer? By other biblical writers? Outside the Bible?
- What characters appear (if any) and what are their relationships?
- If your passage is narrative: How is the plot advanced? How are characters developed? How is conflict introduced or resolved? Do features such as symbolism and irony affect the reader’s perception of what is happening? (=narrative criticism)
- Can you determine when, where, why, or to whom the text was written? Is the author responding to particular historical, social, political, or religious issues?
- Are there any variant readings noted in the footnotes? (=textual criticism)
- Did the passage have a discernible source? Do we have access to that source? (=source criticism)
- What unique views or emphases does the writer place on the text? (=redaction criticism)
o How has the writer used and/or reshaped the source for the author’s own theological, social, political, or religious purposes?
o What is the writer's life situation or theological outlook?
- Are there any parallel texts inside or outside of the Bible? If so, how are they similar and how are they different? What significance might both the similarities and differences have?
- How does your text contribute to (or how may it have been designed to) create a persuasive effect upon an audience? (=rhetorical Criticism)
o What types of arguments or proofs are offered (if any)?
o Is external evidence or documentation cited?
o Does the author defend his or her character?
o Are there appeals to the reader’s emotions or sense of logic?
- What historical, social, or religious background information might illumine the passage at hand? What are the socio-cultural codes embedded in the text (e.g., honour/shame)? (=historical criticism, sociological criticism)
- Has the text been interpreted to serve particular cultural or political interests (=ideological criticism), perhaps even in its own historical context? Does the text assume or promote particular values, institutions, and relationships? Has the text appealed to particular social, political, or cultural groups, or been used against others?
o How does the text apply, or how has it been applied to the concerns of women, the economically oppressed, African Americans, or other identifiable groups? Has the text been appropriated by them, used against them, or both?
Step 3: Use commentaries, monographs, journal articles, concordances, and Bible dictionaries to research your passage, focusing again on the questions above. For this project, develop a bibliography of at least 10 sources.
Step 4: Write your findings in two sections:
1) Answer as many of the questions above as possible clearly and thoroughly, yet concisely. Do this either in Q&A format or in essay form. Whichever form you choose, cite your sources with parenthetical references and a reference list or with footnotes and a bibliography.
2)Develop a detailed sermon
outline based on this passage. Remember
that you are not teaching the passage itself, but presenting the Christian
gospel with reference to the text. While your answers to the above questions are
critical for helping you to know how to use the passage in your sermon, be very
selective about including that information in your sermon.
Alternate assignment (requires consultation with professor): Discuss the implications of this passage for a pastoral, doctrinal, or ethical issue. This discussion should include how the passage relates to other scripture passages and other information and perspectives that have a bearing on understanding the issue.
Step 5: Perform your New Testament passage in class on the day when the class is studying the book of the New Testament in which the passage is found.