Rel 211: The New Testament Gospels
Associate Professor of Ancient
Scripture; Affiliated Faculty, Classics and Ancient Near Eastern Studies
MW 2–2:50 p.m.; TTh 9–9:50 a.m.
Course Description: Rel 211 is a survey study of the four New
Testament gospels intended to illustrate the life, teachings, and, above all,
the suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will
examine the gospels as scripture and ancient texts, setting them in their
ancient historical and cultural contexts while examining them as
testimonies of the atoning mission of the Savior. As texts, we will work to
appreciate their literary artistry, identifying their structures, imagery,
and themes. As works of scripture, we will study them in order to
realize more fully the promise of John 20:31 that "these are written, that ye
might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye
might have life through his name."
After reviewing the background of the gospels, we will first examine Mark,
perhaps the earliest written of the four gospels, to understand its approach and
to gain a better understanding of the basic life and mission of our Lord. We
will then proceed to survey Matthew and Luke, comparing and contrasting them to
each other and with Mark. The final unit will study John and then culminate in a
consideration of the Passion Narratives in all four gospels, reflecting upon the
pivotal events from the Last Supper through the Resurrection.
Course Objectives: This section of Rel 211 has three major objectives:
- First, to increase the student’s knowledge of the gospels—that is,
to familiarize him or her with their basic storylines, characters, themes and
- Second, to help the student read, analyze, discuss, and write about the
Bible as both a source of scriptural knowledge and as a sacred text.
- Third, to strengthen individual testimonies of sacred truths, particularly
by an increased understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ and
the doctrines of the Restoration.
Class discussions, quizzes, and exams will all be formatted with these three
overarching objectives in mind.
Links and Bookmarks
Lecture outlines and
presentations Handouts of each in-class presentation (2
slides per page) are available at each link below.
- 1. Course Introduction.
Description, Course Objectives, and Requirements. What does the term
"gospel" mean? What are the New Testament gospels? Focuses: Mortal Ministry,
Suffering (Passion), Sacrifice (Crucifixion) Resurrection. Suggestions for
Class Preparation. See also: JCWNT, "The World
of the Gospels," 46–57 (out of order in packet).
Unit 1: Background, Beginnings (Infancy Narratives),
- 2. Historical Background of the New Testament Gospels.
Israel from David to the Captivity; Effects of Captivity; Jews under
the Persians; Jews under the Greeks; Brief independence under the Hasmoneans
(the Maccabees); Under the Herods and Romans.
"The World Between the Testaments" and "The Greek and Roman Worlds," 16–41
(packet); Robinson, "The Setting of the Gospels," 10–37 (packet); "Essenes,"
"Herod," "Herodians," "Maccabees," "Pharisees," "Roman Empire," "Sadducees,"
BD 667, 700–702, 727, 750, 763–64, 767.
- SUPPLEMENT: Lands of the Gospels
Presentation (Jon Rainey)
- 3. Literary Background and
Interpretation of the New Testament. New Testament gospels:
review of what they are, preview of when they were written and what their
sources were. Brief history of the Bible; Methods of studying, interpreting,
understanding, and correctly applying biblical texts; Form Criticism and
Gospel Genres; the KJV and Other Translations.
- 4. The Infancy
Narratives of Matthew and Luke and Other Gospel Beginnings. Points of Departure—Why the Differences? Christmas and Easter. Formula
Quotations. Matthew’s Genealogy. Matthean Themes and Images. Canticles.
Lucan Themes and Images. Reading: Matthew 1–2; Luke
1–2; John 1:1–14. JCWNT,
68 (handout). See also: Hall and Welch, charts 8.4,
- 5a. Introduction—Mark and the
Apostolic Proclamation of Christ: Mark’s gospel; Authorship; Joyhn Mark;
Audience; Features of Marcan Style; Sources for Mark; the Speeches of Peter:
a Model for Mark? Structure: a Drama in Three Acts; Marcan Christology;
Other Themes. 5b.Authoritative Galilean
Ministry Begins: Prologue: The Opening of the Ministry; Five Controversy
Narratives. Exegetical Discursus: The Healing of the Man with Palsy.
Reading: Mark 1:1–3:6. Brown, "The Testimony
of Mark," 61–87;
JCWNT, 80–92 (online). See also: Peek, "Early Galilean
Ministry and Miracles," 269—288; Hall and Welch, charts 7.1 and 7.3 (packet)
- 6. Acceptance and Rejection; Parabolic
Teaching and Mighty Deeds of Jesus. Call of the Twelve; Rejected by His
Own; the True Kindred of Jesus. Marcan Parables. Jesus Stills a Storm,
Exorcises the Gerasene Demonic, Heals the Woman with the Issue of Blood, and
Raises Jairus’ Daughter. Mark 3:7–6:6a (on Mark 4:41, see Helaman
12:8–14 n.b. 7–8). Take-home quiz #1 distributed.
7. The Galilean Ministry Concludes:
The First Mission of the Twelve, Great Deeds, Christ on the
"Hollowness" of the Pharisaic Traditions, and Peter’s Declaration. Christ’s
Mission Begins to Expand Beyond Galilee, Opposition Increases, Jesus Heals a
Blind Man "In Stages," and the Disciples’ Faith Grows Even as They
Misunderstand. Mark 6:6b–8:30. Take-home quiz #1 due.
Revised 9/21/05 with new slide on healing the blind man
Exam 1 Materials
Unit 2: Matthew and Luke
- 9a. Gospel of Matthew. Introduction—Matthew the Scribe. Authorship, Internal and
External Evidence. The Synoptic "Problem." Authorship, Audience, and
Features. 9b. Proclamation of the Kingdom. Part 1 (narrative): The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus.
Reading: Matthew 3–4. Matthew," BD 729;
Millet, "The Testimony of Matthew," 38–60; JCWNT, 62–67
(online). See also: Hall and Welch, chart 7.3 (packet).
- 10. Matthew’s Sermon the Mount.
Christ, the New Moses. The Beatitudes. Fulfilling the Law—Six Antitheses. True
Piety and the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 5–7. See also: Hall
and Welch, chart 9.3 (packet).
Not updated after this point
- 12. Galilean Ministry and Growing
Opposition to Jesus. Part 2: Ten Miracles Reminiscent of Moses; The
Healing Power of Christ: "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our
sicknesses"; Matthean Controversy Narratives. The Mission Sermon. Part 3:
Opposition to Jesus Narrative; John the Baptist; Jesus Prayer; More
Controversy Narratives. Sermon in Parables. Matthew 8:1–13:52.
See also: Peek, "Early Galilean Ministry and Miracles," 288–93.
- 13. Rejection by Israel and the
Sermon on the Church. Part 4: "A Prophet is not without honor . . ." The
Leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees; Peter’s Declaration and the Keys of
the Kingdom; Fulfillment of God’s Purposes Will Continue in Christ’s Church.
Sermon on the Church. Matthew 13:52–18:25.
- 14. Journey to and Ministry in
Jerusalem and the Great Eschatological Sermon. Teachings on the Road to
Jerusalem. Rejection of the Leaders of Israel. Prophecies of the End Time. The
Necessity of Watchfulness. Matthew 19:1–25:46.
- 15a. Gospel of Luke.
Introduction—Luke, the Detailed and Compassionate Evangelist:
Authorship, Internal and External Evidence. Luke the Physician. "Theolphilus"
and Luke’s Original Audience. Dating, Sources, and Composition (Two-source
vs. Three-stage). Style and Characteristics. Lucan Christology. Purpose and
Structure of Luke’s Gospel. 15b.
Preparation for the Ministry: Baptism, Genealogy, Temptation.
Reading: Luke 3:1–4:13; esp. JST Luke 3:5–9. "Luke," BD 726;
Anderson, "The Testimony of Luke," 88–108 (packet);
JCWNT 108–116 (online).
- 16. Galilean Ministry. Good News of
the Kingdom; Call of the Twelve; Sermon on the Plain; the Compassion of Jesus;
Women in Luke; Mighty Miracles; Jesus and the Twelve. Luke 4:14–9:50.
See also: Hall and Welch, 9.12–15 (packet); Huntsman, "Galilee
and the Call of the Twelve Apostles"; Wayment, "The Sermon on the Plain";
Peek, "Early Galilean Ministry and Miracles," 293–99 (packet). Take-home
quiz #2 distributed.
Quiz 2 Materials
- 17. Journey to Jerusalem 1.
Mission of the Seventy. The Lawyer’s Question—the Good Samaritan and the
Mary and Martha stories. Teachings on Prayer—the Lord’s Prayer, the Friend
at Midnight, and Bread from a Father to a Son. Healing the Bent Woman and a
Woman Mixing Dough. Luke 9:51–13:21. Take-home quiz #2 due.
- 18. Journey to Jerusalem 2: The
Perean Ministry. More Lucan parables, including the Parables of the Lost
and Found; Warnings about Wealth; the Widow and the Unjust Judge; the Scope
of Salvation, including the Pharisee and the Publican and the story of
Zacchaeus. Luke 13:22–19:27.
- 19. Jerusalem Ministry.
Triumphal Approach to Jerusalem; Parable of the Pounds; Jesus and Jerusalem;
Teachings in the Temple; Eschatological Sermon. Luke 19:28–21:38.
Exam 2 Materials
Unit 3: John and The Passion and Resurrection Narratives
- 20a. Gospel of John.
Introduction—John the Theologian. Authorship and Audience. The Beloved
Disciple and the "Johannine Community." Style and Structure of the Fourth
Gospel. The Synoptics and John. 20b. John 1
and the Logos Hymn: "And the Word was made flesh . . ." The Light
and the Witness. Reading: John :1–18. "John," and
"John, Gospel of," BD 715–716; Griggs, "The Testimony of John," 109–126;
JCWNT, 126–133 (online). See also: Hall and Welch, chart
- 21. The Book of Signs. From Cana to Cana.
First Sign: Water to Wine at the Wedding at Cana; Blood, Water, and the
Incarnation; Jesus, Jerusalem, and the Cleansing of the Temple; Discourse on
the New Birth: Dialogue with Nicodemus; Discourse on the Water of Life:
Dialogue with the Samaritan Woman at the Well; Second Sign: Healing the
Nobleman's Son in Cana. John 2–4. See also: Peek, "Early
Galilean Ministry and Miracles," 299–304 (packet).
- 22. Jesus and the Feasts of the Jews 1:
The Sabbath—Healing at the Pool of Bethesda and the Discourse on the Divine
Son. At Passover—Feeding of the 5,000 and the Bread of Life Discourse; Many
Disciples Turn Away, but "Lord . . . thou has the words of eternal life."
John 5–6 (start reading ahead on John 7–12). See also:
Huntsman, "The Bread of Life Sermon" (packet). Handout:
Signs, Discourses, and Sayings.
- 23. Jesus and the Feasts of the Jews 2:
Tabernacles—Discourses on the Life-giving Spirit and the Light of the World;
Healing of the Blind Man; Discourse on the Good Shepherd. At Dedication—Jesus
the Messiah and Son of God.: "I and my Father are one." The Raising of Lazarus
and its Aftermath—Jesus the Resurrection and the Life. Moving towards The Book
of Glory. John 7–12.
- 24. Passion Narratives and John’s
Book of Glory. The Last Supper. The "Passion" of Jesus Christ; The Last
Supper tradition; Setting the Scene for the Passion—the Anointing; the
Institution of the Sacrament. Mark 14:1–31; Matthew 26:1–35; Luke 22:1–38;
John 13. See also: Seely, "The Last Supper According to
Matthew, Mark, and Luke," 59–107 (packet);
Jeffrey R. Holland, "This Do in
Remembrance of Me" (online).
- 25. John’s Last Supper
Discourses. The Paraclete Sayings; Jesus, the True Vine; Christ’s Imminent
Departure; The Way, the Truth, and the Life; "As I Have Loved You . . ."; The
Intercessory Prayer. John 14–17.
Homestudy! Because of scheduling difficulties, please print this
presentation and read over it carefully on your own!
Quiz 3 Materials
- 26. Gethsemane. Gethsemane and
the Atonement; Setting the Stage, Starting the Sacrifice; The Beginning of the
Atoning Sacrifice; Luke, the Compassionate and Detailed Evangelist; Agonia;
"his sweat was as it were great drops of blood . . ."; the Extent of Our
Lord’s Sufferings; Jesus and the Olive. Mark: 14:32–42; Matthew 26:36–46;
Luke 22:39–46; John 18:1. See also: Skinner, "The Agony of
the Bitter Cup," Gethsemane, 67–91 (packet).
Maundy Thursday, a
Reflection. Take-home quiz #3
- 27. Arrest and Trial. Betrayal
and Arrest; Jesus Before the Jewish Authorities; Peter’s Denial; Jesus in the
Hands of the Romans—Delivered to Pilate; "What is Truth?"; Sent to Herod
Antipas; Before the Mob; Judged, Scourged, and Mocked. Mark 14:43–15:20;
Matthew 26:47–27:31; Luke 22:47–23:25; John 18:2–19:17a. See also:
Huntsman, "Before the Romans," 269–317; Hall and Welch, charts 10.1–2, 10.8,
and 10.13 (packet). Extra materials: Spencer W. Kimball, "Peter,
My Brother" and Jeffrey R. Holland, "The
Lengthening Shadow of Peter" online; also "On
Peter's Denial," an overview.
Trial(s) of Jesus, a Reflection. Take-home quiz #3 due.
- 28. Crucifixion and Burial. On
the Way to Calvary; At Calvary—Activities at the Cross, Last Moments, Signs
and Reactions to Christ’s Death; Why the Cross? The Burial of Jesus. Mark
15:21–47; Matthew 27:32–66; Luke 23:26–56; John 19:17b–42. See also:
Jackson, "The Crucifixion," 318–337, and Peek, "The Burial," 338–377; Hall and
Welch, chart 10.14 (packet); The
Crucifixion: A Reflection. Exegetical paper due.
- 29. Resurrection Narratives.
The Empty Tomb. Early Appearances. Apostolic Commissions. Mark 16; Matthew
28; Luke 24; John 20–21. See also: Holzapfel and Wayment,
"The Resurrection," 378–397.
Jesus' Ministry in the World of Spirits.
Easter Sunday: A
Reflection on the Resurrection.
Exam 3 Materials