New Testament

(REL 102)

Dr. Mark Given

Missouri State University

Course Calendar


Part One: Bible 101

Jan 13 Introduction to the Course
This course uses Blackboard for announcements, assignments, grades, etc.


HB/OT: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
HSB: HarperCollins Study Bible
NOAB: New Oxford Annotated Bible (4th ed.)
NT: New Testament

Jan 15 Bible 101: Canon Formation

Reading: Sumney, 3-18 (Chapter 1)

Supplemental Resources: "The Editors' Preface" (NOAB, xiii–xiv); "To the Reader" (NOAB, xv-xviii); "The Canons of the Bible" (NOAB, 2185-91)\; Luther's Treatment of the 'Disputed Books' of the New Testament; The Non-canonical Homepage

Supplemental readings are not required.  They are resources to go further into subjects that interest you.
Jan 17 Bible 101: Canon Formation (cont.) and Texts and Translations

Reading: Sumney, 19-25 (From the beginning of chap. 2 through "A Striking Variant")

Supplemental Resources: "Textual Criticism" (NOAB, 2192-97); "Translation of the Bible into English" (NOAB, 2197-2201); Farley, "Hart's 'The New Testament'"; Ian Paul, "Can we fix Bible translation?"; Experience Codex Sinaiticus; for more, click here.

Jan 20 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
Jan 22 Bible 101: Texts and Translations (cont.)

Reading: Sumney, 25-31 (From "Translations" in chap. 2 to the end of the chapter)

The Sumney chapter provides a concise overview of the history of the concept of biblical inspiration.

Supplemental Resources:


Jan 24

Bible 101: Interpretive Contexts
Reading: Sumney, 33-46 (Chapter 3)

Supplemental Resources:

"Strategies for Reading Scripture" (HSB, xxxix-xliii)

"The Interpretation of the Bible from the Nineteenth to the Mid-Twentieth Centuries" (NOAB, 2221-24)

Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism (a new book on a recurring problem)

While "mainline" Protestants have always supported historical criticism of the Bible, "evangelical" Protestants have had a long debate about it.  At the fundamentalist end of the interpretive spectrum, the method is usually rejected and even vilified.  More theologically moderate evangelicals--often referred to as conservatives as opposed to fundamentalists--have long used historical criticism, however cautiously.  Indeed, some of the finest historical-critical commentaries available are written by theologically moderate and conservative biblical scholars.  This online article is an interview with the authors of a recent book about the use of historical criticism by evangelical biblical scholars.  The authors are themselves evangelicals writing to convince fellow evangelicals that historical criticism of the Bible is necessary and beneficial.

The Interpretation of the Bible in the [Catholic] Church (Pontifical Biblical Commission, Presented on March 18, 1994)

This long but quite readable official document explains why the Catholic Church considers historical criticism to be indispensable for understanding the Bible.

"Applied Peshat: Historical-Critical Method and Religious Meaning"

Some of the finest historical-critical biblical scholars in the world today are Jewish but, as in Christianity, there are Jews who object to it.  This is an article by Stephen Garfinkel, a professor at Jewish Theological Seminary of America, defending the importance of historical criticism.

More Historical Criticism Links

Jan 27 Bible 101: Interpretive Contexts (Continued)
Reading: Sumney, 33-46; Given, "The Interpretive Spectrum" (See Course Documents)

Supplemental Resources: C. S. Lewis on the Bible

Part Two: The Stories of Israel

Jan 29 The National Epic of Israel as Shaped by Exile I: The Ancestors, the Exodus, and the Law
Reading: Sumney, 67-75 (From "Israel's Ancestors" to the end of the chapter); 79-95

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 95-99; "The Ancient Near East and Ancient Israel to the Mid-First Millennium BCE" (NOAB, 2234-42); click here for more.

Jan 31 The National Epic of Israel as Shaped by Exile II: The Conquest and Kingdom(s)

Reading: Sumney, 99-102 (Chapter 5); 105-129 (From the beginning of chap. 6 through "Deuteronomistic Evaluations")

Supplemental Resources: "Israelite Religion" (HSB, xliv-xlviii)

Feb 3

The Exile, Post-Exile, and Greco-Roman Period

Reading: Sumney, 129-137 (From "The End of the Northern Kingdom" to the end of the chapter); 195-203 (From the beginning of chapter 10 through "Hasmoneans and Sadducees")

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 156 (Map 7:1); "The Persian and Hellenistic Periods" (NOAB, 2242-47); Pearce, "How Bad Was the Babylonian Exile"; click here for more.

Feb 5 Class Cancelled (Weather)
Feb 7

Paper 1
The Message of the Prophets and the Greco-Roman Period (Continued)

Reading: Sumney, 141-42 (The beginning of chapter 7 through "The Ethics of the Prophets"); 203-210 (From "Roman Domination of Palestine" in chap. 10 through "Summary")

Discussion Paper One: "Who is the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah?" (See Assignments)

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 142-71; 151 (Box 7.5, "The Servant Songs"); 158 (Map 7:2); 174-78 ("Wisdom Literature" and "Job")

Feb 10
The Greco-Roman Period (Continued)

Reading: Sumney, 210-20 (From "Parties within First-Century Judaism" in chap. 10 to the end of the chapter)

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 173-94; 180-83 ("Esther"); "The Roman Period" (NOAB, 2247-53); Hillel and Shammai; Hillel; Shammai


Part Three: The Synoptic Stories of Jesus and Luke's Story of the Early Church

Feb 12 The Nature of the Gospels and the Problem of the Historical Jesus

Reading: Sumney, 225-37 (Chapter 11); Three Gospel Synopsis

The link takes you to an online synopsis of the gospels.  Don't read the whole thing, just test drive it. For example, find "The Temptation" in chapter 1 of Mark and click on the little color-coded Bibles at the beginning of the account.

Supplemental Resources: "A Table of Parallel Passages in the Gospels" (HSB, 1653-63); "Introduction to the Gospels" (NOAB, 1743-45); The Two Source Hypothesis; The Synoptic Problem; More Supplemental Synoptic Problem Reading; Supplemental Synoptic Problem Exercises; Harris, "The Continuing Quest for the Historical Jesus" (See Course Content, Supplemental Reading); Licona, "Why are there differences in the Gospels? Ancient biography, Plutarch & the Gospels"; McKnight, The Jesus We'll Never Know; Search for the Historical Jesus

The first two links take you to lots of info supplementing the basics you get in the textbook and presenting alternative theories.

Feb 14
Mark's Story of Jesus, the Danielic Son of Man

Reading: Sumney, 239-48 (Chapter 12, Mark section); HSB, 1722-24; Mark 1:1-10:52; Daniel 7 (w/footnotes); Isaiah 40:1-11; review Isa 42:1-9; 49:1-7

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 166-69 ("Daniel"); click here for more.

Mark tells us that Jesus never taught without using parables.  We will not focus on the parables of Jesus in this introductory class, but here is a podcast interview with Dr. Amy-Jill Levine about her highly praised book on them:

The parables of Jesus, with Amy-Jill Levine

Feb 17 Presidents Day Holiday
Feb 19
Mark's Story of Jesus, the Danielic Son of Man (Continued)

Reading: Mark 11:1-16:8; review Isaiah 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12; Jeremiah 31:31-34 (w/footnotes)

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 152-54 ("Jeremiah")

Feb 21
Mark's Story of Jesus, the Danielic Son of Man (Continued)

Reading: Mark 11:1-16:8; review Isaiah 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12; Jeremiah 31:31-34 (w/footnotes)

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 152-54 ("Jeremiah")

Feb 24

First Exam

See Assignments for Study Guide.

Feb 26 Matthew's Story of Jesus, the Mosaic Messiah

Reading: Sumney, 248-56 (Chapter 12, Matthew section); HSB, 1665-66

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 148-49 ("Christian Interpretation"); HSB, 1666-67; Papias; Q Resources Online; QLuke and QMatt (In Course Documents)

Most NT scholars believe that the writers of the Gospels we call Matthew and Luke used a lost written source made up mostly of sayings of Jesus.  This source is referred to as "Q," an abbreviation for the German word "quelle" which means source.  Plausible dates for composition of this source range from the 40s to the 60s C.E., making these materials common to Matthew and Luke among the earliest surviving traditions about Jesus.  Though written in Greek when incorporated into Matthew and Luke, it may have been composed originally in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and his disciples.  Even if the Q source theory were ever proven wrong, the inclusion of these similar materials in two Gospels would seem to confirm their importance for understanding the message of Jesus. The Papias link takes you to the earliest surviving traditions concerning Papias (ca. 135 C.E.), including his comments about the writing activities of Mark and Matthew.  Since what he ascribes to Matthew here does not sound like the book of Matthew we know but rather a collection of Aramaic "sayings" later "translated" (or "interpreted"), some scholars think that the disciple Matthew could have been the author of the earliest edition of Q.

Feb 28 Matthew's Story of Jesus, the Mosaic Messiah (Continued)
Reading: Matthew 1:1–2:23; 5:17–24, 27–48; 6:1–8, 16–18; 7:6,12–20, 28; 8:16–17; 10:5–8, 23–25, 40–41; 11:28–30; 12:5–7, 17–21, 34, 36–37; 13:14–15, 24–30, 36–52; 14:28–33; 16:11–12, 17–19; 17:24–27; 18:15–35; 19:10–12; 20:1–16; 21:4–5, 10–17, 28–32, 43; 22:1–14; 23:1–36; 25:1–13, 31–46; 26:52–54; 27:3–10, 24–25, 51–53, 62–66; 28:1–20

Since almost all of Mark is repeated in Matthew, and you have already read the materials found in both Matthew and Luke designated Q, the reading assignment only includes material unique to Matthew. Of course Matthew's form of the material in Mark and Q is often significantly different. I will include a few examples in class.

Supplemental Resources: Bar Mitzvah (from Judaism 101)

Mar 2 Luke's Story of Jesus, the Prophetic Christ

Reading: Sumney, 256–61 (Chapter 12, Luke section); HSB, 1759-61; Luke 1:1-3:38; 4:14-30

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 146-48 ("Micah"); Goldberg, "The Josephus-Luke Connection"

Mar 4 Luke's Story of Jesus, the Prophetic Christ (Continued)

Reading: Sumney, 261–66; Luke 5:1–11; 6:24–26, 43; 7:1–5, 11–17, 36–50; 8:1–3; 9:44–45, 51–56; 10:1, 17–20, 25–42; 11:5–8, 27–28; 12:13–21, 33–53; 13:1–17, 31–33; 14:1–14, 25–33; 15:1–17:21; 18:1–14, 31–34; 19:1–11, 41–44; 21:20–24, 37–38; 22:15–16, 31, 35–38; 23:2–49; 24:1–53

Since a large percentage of Mark is repeated in Luke, and you have already read the materials found in both Matthew and Luke designated Q, the reading assignments only include material unique to Luke.  Of course Luke's form of the material in Mark is often significantly different.  I will include a few examples in class.

Mar 6
Luke's Story of the Early Church I: the Beginnings (Acts 1-7)

Reading: Sumney, 277-83 (Chapter 13);  Acts 1-7

Supplemental Resources: NOAB, 1919-21; Click here for more.

Mar 9
Luke's Story of the Early Church II: the Rise of Saul/Paul (Acts 8-15)

Reading: Sumney, 283-92; Acts 8-15; Galatians 2:1-14

Supplemental Resources: Cf. Gal 2:15-3:18 with James 2:14-26

Mar 11

Luke's Story of the Early Church II (continued): the Rise of Saul/Paul (Acts 8-15)

Reading: Sumney, 283-92; Acts 8-15; Galatians 2:1-14

Supplemental Resources: Cf. Gal 2:15-3:18 with James 2:14-26; Was James Being Legalistic in Acts 15? or “Can I Eat a Rare Steak?”

Part Four: To What End? Rhetorical and Theological Goals in Early Church Literature

Mar 13
Introduction to Paul and his Letters -and- The End of Hope I (1 Thessalonians)

Reading: Sumney, 293-302 (Beginning of chap. 14 through "Believers who die before the end comes")

Supplemental Resources: Dr. Mark's Annotated Chronology of Paul

Mar 14-22 Spring Break
Mar 23
The End of Hope II (1 Thessalonians)

Reading: Acts 16:1-18:1; 1 Thessalonians

Supplemental Resources:

Mar 25 The End of Spirit I: Spiritual Wisdom and Holiness (1 Corinthians 1–7)

Reading: Sumney, 302-306 (Chapter 14, 1 Corinthians section); Acts 18:1-19:20; 1 Corinthians 1-7

Supplemental Resources:

Mar 27
The End of Spirit II: Spiritual Worship (1 Corinthians 8-14)

Reading: Sumney, 306-308; 1 Corinthians 8-14

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 187-94
Mar 30 The End of Spirit III: Spiritual Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15-16)

Reading: Sumney 308; 1 Corinthians 15-16

Supplemental Resources: Sumney 308-311; 2 Corinthians; Sumney, "Who are those 'Servants of Satan'?"

Apr 1

Second Exam

This exam is postponed until Apr 8th.

See Assignments for Study Guide

Apr 3
[Apr 13]
The End of Faith I: Righteousness (Romans 1-5)

Reading: Sumney, 319-21 (Chapter 14, Romans section); Romans 1:1-3:20

Supplemental Resources: Acts 19:21-20:3; Sumney, 60-62 ("The Fall"), 311-15; Galatians; Galatians Supplemental Links;

Apr 6
[Apr 15]
The End of Faith II: Fulfillment of the Law (Romans 5–11)

Reading: Sumney, 322-24; Romans 3:21-11:36

Supplemental Resources: Given, Homosexuality and the Bible; Mattison, "A Summary of the New Perspective on Paul"

Apr 8
[Apr 17]
The End of Faith III: Sacrificial Living (Romans 12–16)
Reading: Sumney, 324-28; Romans 12-16

Supplemental Resources:

Apr 9-12 Spring Holiday
Apr 13
The End of Service (Philippians)
Reading: Sumney, 315-317 (Chapter 14, Philippians section); Philippians

Supplemental Resources: Acts 20:3-23:11; Archaeologists Reveal Secrets of Roman Prison That Held Both Christian Saints and Jewish Rebels; Roman Prisons; Mamertine Prison

Apr 15
[Apr 20]

The End of Love (Philemon)
Reading: Sumney, 317–319 (Chapter 14, Philemon section); Philemon

Supplemental Resources: Acts 23:12-28:31; Slavery in the Roman World

Apr 17
[Apr 22]
The End of Church (Ephesians)
Reading: Sumney, 329-30 (Chapter 15, Introduction); 335-37 (Chapter 15, Ephesians section); Ephesians

Supplemental Resources: Sumney, 330-33; 1 Thessalonians; 333-34; Colossians; Click here.

Some people like to say we can’t “know” what ancient Greek music sounded like, but there is in fact solid scholarship that yields something well beyond mere “educated guessing” about instrument construction, scales, and rhythm.  There’s a fascinating short video about the oldest surviving Greek music manuscript on this page:

Very early Christian music:

I like to think that the music in Paul’s churches sounded a bit more “popular” and occasionally exciting:

Apr 20
[Apr 24]

Paper 2
The End of Ministry (The Pastoral Epistles)
Reading: Sumney, 338-43 (Chapter 15, Pastoral Epistles section); 1 Timothy

Discussion Paper Two: Paul and Women (See Assignments)

Supplemental Resources: 2 Timothy; Titus; Sumney, 60-62 ("The Fall"); Ian Paul, "Can we fix Bible translation?"
Apr 22
[Apr 27]
The End of Wisdom (James)

Reading: Sumney, 345-46 (Chapter 16, Introduction), 349-51 (Chapter 16, James section); James

Supplemental Resources:

"James or Jacob in the Bible"

"Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" (1999)

"Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" (Wikipedia article)

This is a historic document produced by the Lutheran World Foundation and Roman Catholics, officially burying the hatchet on the subject of justification by faith, proclaiming that they are substantially in agreement on the issue.

Evangelicals and Catholics Together: A New Initiative

In 1994, a group of Evangelical and Catholic theologians published "The Gift of Salvation," an unofficial document with an aim similar to the "Lutheran-Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" (see above).

WMC’s Statement of Association with the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification

In 2006, the World Methodist Council endorsed the declaration.

"Lutherans, Catholics 'on the way' to greater unity" (2015)

"Hope for the declaration's impact was expressed by the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, a former ELCA presiding bishop who serves as the Lutheran co-chair of the task force: 'Thanks be to God that we can now offer this declaration. Trusting in the Holy Spirit and with renewed resolve, we can say confidently that Catholics and Lutherans are on the way to full communion.'"

Part Five: The Never Ending Story?

Apr 24
[Apr 29]
John's Story of Jesus the Incarnate Word

Reading: Sumney, 266-76; HSB, 1814-16; John

Video Lecture: Johannine Christianity: The Gospel (Dale Martin, Yale University)

More information on Dale Martin and his NT course, click here.
Supplemental Resources: Origen on the Differences Between the Gospels; The Gospel of John Film; The Five Gospels Parallels
Apr 27
John's Story of Jesus the Incarnate Word (Continued)

Reading: Sumney, 269-76; John 12-21

Supplemental Resources: The Johannine Literature Web; The Gospel of John: Conflicts and Controversies;
Apr 29
[May 1]
The Johannine Defense of the True Story (The Johannine Epistles)

Reading: Sumney, 356-61; 1, 2, 3 John

Video Lecture: Johannine Christianity: The Letters (Dale Martin, Yale University)

Supplemental Resources: Allegory of the Cave Links; The Gnostic Archive; Heracleon: Fragments from his commentary on the Gospel of John; The Gospel of Thomas; Click here.

May 1
[May 4]
John the Prophet's Story of Jesus, the Conquering Lamb (Revelation)

Reading: Sumney, 363-70 (Chapter 17, Beginning through "Summary")

Supplemental Resources: Click here.

Conservative Biblical Scholars Speaking Against "the Rapture"

N. T. Wright on the Rapture Passage; Middleton, Does Tom Wright Believe in the Second Coming? (The answer is yes; he just doesn't believe in "the rapture" version of it.)

Ben Witherington III: Where Did Rapture Theology Come From?; Is the Rapture Doctrine Biblical?; Revelation and Apocalypticism

May 4
[May 6]
John the Prophet's Story of Jesus, the Conquering Lamb (Revelation cont.)

Reading: Sumney, 370-83 (Chapter 17, "The Book of Revelation" section to the end of the chapter); Revelation 1-7; 12-22

Supplemental Resources: Revelation 8-11; Sumney, 143 (Box 7:1); Koester, "Interpreting the Mystery" (See Course Content, Supplemental Reading); click here for more on Revelation; Sumney, 353-56; Jude, 2 Peter; A scene from the moive Pi (Math is Everywhere); A Coo Coo Clock (listen for this sound in the Pi clip ☺)

May 6 [Cancelled] The End of Patience (2 Peter)

Reading: Sumney, 353-56 (Chapter 16, 2 Peter section); 2 Peter

Supplemental Resources: Jude

May 8 Study Day

Final Exam

REL 102-1 Final Exam (Monday, May 11, 8:45 am to 10:45 am )

REL 102-2 Final Exam (Wednesday, May 13, 8:45 am to 10:45 am )

For final exam description and preparation instructions, see Assignments.