New Testament

(REL 102)

Dr. Mark Given

Missouri State University

Course Calendar


Part One: Bible 101

Aug 21 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

Handel, "Total Eclipse" from Samson

Aug 23 Bible 101: Canon Formation

Reading: Sumney, 3-18

Supplemental Reading: "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.
Aug 25 Bible 101: Texts and Translations

Reading: Sumney, 19-31

Supplemental Reading: "Textual Criticism" (NOAB, 2192-97); "Translation of the Bible into English" (NOAB, 2197-2201); Ian Paul, "Can we fix Bible translation?"; Experience Codex Sinaiticus; A Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel!; for more, click here.

Aug 28

Bible 101: Translations (cont.) and Interpretive Contexts

Reading: Sumney, 33-46

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

Supplemental Reading:

"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)

Evangelical Christianity has had a long debate about historical criticism of the Bible.  At the fundamentalist end of the interpretive spectrum, the method is usually rejected and even vilified.  More moderate evangelicals--often referred to as "conservatives" as opposed to fundamentalists--have long used historical criticism with caution.  Indeed, some of the finest historical-critical commentaries available are written by theologically moderate to 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

Aug 30 Bible 101: Interpretive Contexts (Continued)
Reading: Sumney, 33-46; Given, "The Interpretive Spectrum" (See Course Documents)

Part Two: The Stories of Israel

Sep 1 The Stories and Traditions of Israel I: The Ancestors, the Exodus and the Law
Reading: Sumney, 67-75; 79-95

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

Sep 3

Intro Assignment: See Assignments.
Sep 4 Labor Day Holiday
Sep 6 The Stories and Traditions of Israel II: The Conquest and Kingdoms according to the Deuteronomistic Perspective

Reading: Sumney, 99-102; 105-129

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

Sep 8

The Stories and Traditions of Israel III: The Exile, Post-Exile and the Greco-Roman Period

Reading: Sumney, 129-137; 195-203

Supplemental Reading: Sumney, 156 (Map 7:1); "The Persian and Hellenistic Periods" (NOAB, 2242-47); click here for more.

Sep 11

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

Reading: Sumney, 141-42; 204-210

Discussion Paper One: Suffering and Meaning (See Assignments)

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

Sep 13 The Greco-Roman Period (Continued)

Reading: Sumney, 210-20

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


Part Three: The Stories of Jesus and the Early Church

Sep 15 The Nature of the Gospels and the Problem of the Historical Jesus

Reading: Sumney, 225-37; 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 Reading: "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.

Sep 18
Mark's Story of Jesus, the Danielic Son of Man

Reading: Sumney, 239-48; 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 Reading: Sumney, 166-69 ("Daniel"); click here for more.

Sep 20
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 Reading: Sumney, 152-54 ("Jeremiah")

Sep 22
The Sayings Source "Q"

Reading: 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.

Supplemental Reading: Papias; Q Resources Online

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.

Sep 25 First Exam

See Assignments for Study Guide.

Sep 27 Matthew's Story of Jesus the Mosaic Messiah

Reading: Sumney, 248-56; HSB, 1665-66

Supplemental Reading: Sumney, 148-49 ("Christian Interpretation"); HSB, 1666-67

Sep 29 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 Reading: Bar Mitzvah (from Judaism 101)

Oct 2 Luke's Story of Jesus the Social-Justice Prophet

Reading: Sumney, 256–61; HSB, 1759-61; Luke 1:1-3:38; 4:14-30

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

Oct 4

Paper 2
Luke's Story of Jesus the Social-Justice Prophet (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.

Discussion Paper Two: Luke's Diversions from Mark's Passion Narrative (See Assignments)

Oct 6

John's Story of Jesus the Incarnate Word

Reading: Sumney, 266-69; HSB, 1814-16; John 1-11

Supplemental Reading: Origen on the Differences Between the Gospels; The Gospel of John Film; The Five Gospels Parallels

Oct 9 John's Story of Jesus the Incarnate Word (Continued)

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

Supplemental Reading: The Johannine Literature Web; The Gospel of John: Conflicts and Controversies
Oct 11
Luke's Story of the Early Church I: the Beginnings (Acts 1-7)

Reading: Sumney, 277-83;  Acts 1-7

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

Oct 13 Fall Holiday
Oct 16
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 Reading: 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

Oct 18

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

Reading: Sumney, 293-302

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

Oct 20
The End of Hope II (1 Thessalonians)

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

Supplemental Reading:

Oct 23
Second Exam

See Assignments for Study Guide

Oct 25 The End of Spirit I: Spiritual Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1–7)

Reading: Sumney, 302-306; Acts 18:1-19:20; 1 Corinthians 1-7

Supplemental Reading:

Oct 27

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

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

Supplemental Reading: Sumney, 187-94
Oct 30

The End of Spirit III: Spiritual Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15-16)

Reading: Sumney 308; 1 Corinthians 15-16

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

Nov 1

The End of Faith I: The Obedience of Faith (Romans 1-3)

Reading: Sumney, 319-21; Romans 1:1-3:20

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

Nov 3

Paper 3
The End of Faith II: Faith Upholds the Law (Romans 3–11)

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

Discussion Paper Three: Paul and Homosexuality (See Assignments)

Supplemental Reading: Homosexuality and the Bible

Nov 6

The End of Faith III: Faithful Living (Romans 12–16)
Reading: Sumney, 324-28; Romans 12-16

Supplemental Reading:

Nov 8
The End of Service (Philippians)
Reading: Sumney, 315-317; Philippians

Supplemental Reading: Acts 20:3-23:11; Roman Prisons; Mamertine Prison

Nov 10

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

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

Nov 13

The End of the Church (Ephesians)
Reading: Sumney, 333-37; Ephesians

Supplemental Reading: 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:

Nov 15

Paper 4
The End of Ministry (The Pastoral Epistles)
Reading: Sumney, 338-43; 1 Timothy

Discussion Paper Four: Paul and Women (See Assignments)

Supplemental Reading: 2 Timothy; Titus; Sumney, 60-62 ("The Fall"); Ian Paul, "Can we fix Bible translation?"
Nov 17 The End of Wisdom (James)

Reading: Sumney, 349-51; James

Supplemental Reading:

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

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

This is a historic document produced by Lutherans 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).

"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.'"

Nov 20 The End of Sacrifice (Hebrews)

Reading: Sumney, 345-49; Hebrews 1:1-10:39

Supplemental Reading: Hebrews 11:1-13:25

Jewish-Christian Relations

"These pages are dedicated to a special relationship. They are not about Christianity or Judaism per se, but about the development of a new understanding between the two communities after a long history of animosity."

Nov 22-26 Thanksgiving Holiday
Nov 27
The End of Truth (The Johannine Epistles)

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

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

Nov 29 The End of Suffering (1 Peter)

Reading: Sumney, 351-53; 1 Peter

Supplemental Reading: 2 Peter

Part Five: The Never Ending Story?

Dec 1
The End of Encouragement I (Revelation)

Reading: Sumney, 363-70

Supplemental Reading: Click here.

Dec 4

The End of Encouragement II (Revelation cont.)

Reading: Sumney, 370-83; Revelation 1-7; 12-22

Supplemental Reading: 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

Dec 6 The End of Patience (2 Peter)

Reading: Sumney, 353-56; 2 Peter

Supplemental Reading: Jude

Dec 8 Study Day

Final Exam

REL 102-1 Final Exam (Wednesday, December 13, 8:45 am to 10:45 am)

REL 102-2 Final Exam (Monday, December 11, 8:45 am to 10:45 am)

For final exam description and preparation instructions, see Assignments.