Academic Programs 
      

 New Testament Tensions and Contemporary Ministry  
SC-665-1/III-AM 
 Fall 2002

The New Testament writings reflect a variety of tensions which developed within the Christian communities of the first century and which also arise in the Church today. Using insights and paradigms from biblical and congregational studies as angles of vision, this course seeks to analyze the dynamics of these tensions then and now. Reading the New Testament from social scientific perspectives will provide a bridge between the problems and strategies of the early church and those of congregations in our time. 

 

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on 9/10, 10/1, 10/22, 11/12, 12/10   (D.Min. Schedule)
Location: Room   206

Course Syllabus
Class web site

Professor  Efrain Agosto


Contact Information:
phone: 
(860) 509-9500 
email: 

Professor Carl Dudley


Contact Information:
phone: 
(860) 509-9500 
email: 



Course Objectives

1. To gain a greater understanding of various New Testament documents as products of communities of faith with different cultures and concerns. 
2. To use both the academic tools of biblical analysis and the lenses of contemporary congregational studies in listening and responding to selective New Testament writings.
3. To explore similarities and differences between settings and strategies of the early church and present day congregations.
4.  To show reflective practice of this approach in a variety of congregational ministries.
 

Course Procedure 

Although we recognize that New Testament documents were written by individuals in the context of their faith communities, in this course we will emphasize the influence of communities in the development of these materials. Although we also realize that each document has many layers of meaning, in this course we seek to identify dominant themes that reflect the communities from /to which they were written. As the themes and perspectives of each book is introduced students are expected to incorporate those themes into each subsequent discussion. 

Students will sign up to introduce a New Testament book in team presentations. These introductions should include an historical-critical orientation to the book, an exploration of the primary issue we have suggested for the book, and a contemporary congregational situation that might be comparable to the book. Presentations should be about 15 minutes, maximum, and accompanied by a single page outline for all students. These presentations provide the basis for one of two student papers, in addition to weekly reading reports. In presentations and papers students are encouraged to include creativity in communication, such as pictures, drawings, dialogues, role playing, music, video, and the like.


Course Requirements 

1. Reading

A. Required

The New Testament in a modern translation (e.g., New Revised Standard Version).  

Raymond Brown, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind (New York/Ramsey: Paulist Press, 1984).  

Carl S. Dudley & Earle Hilgert, New Testament Tensions & the Contemporary Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987). 

Wes Howard-Brook and Sharon H. Ringe, eds., The New Testament – Introducing the Way of Discipleship (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 2002).

Wayne Meeks, First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983).  

David Rhoads, The Challenge of Diversity: The Witness of Paul & the Gospels (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1989).  

Sharon Ringe, “A Gentile Woman’s Story” in Letty Russell, ed., Feminist Interpretation of the Bible (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1985), 65-72 [on reserve].

Max Weber, “The Sociology of Charismatic Authority” in Gerth and Mills, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (Oxford, 1946), 242-252 [on reserve]. 


B. Recommended (on reserve)

Nancy T. Ammerman, et.al., Studying Congregations (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998).  

David Bartlett, Ministry in the New Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993). 

Raymond Brown, The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves and Hates of An Individual Church in New Testament Times (New York: Paulist Press, 1979).

Richard Cassidy, Jesus, Politics and Society: A Study of Luke’s Gospel (Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 1978).

John H. Elliot, A Home for the Homeless: A Social-Scientific Criticism of I Peter, Its Situation and Strategy (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990).

Robert Jewett, The Thessalonian Correspondence: Pauline Rhetoric and Millenarian Piety (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986).

Elsa Tamez, The Amnesty of Grace: Justification by Faith from a Latin American Perspective (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993).  

Gerd Theissen, Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982). 

________, Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978). 

Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr., Gospel Parallels: A Synopsis of the First Three Gospels (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979).

2.  Class presentation:

Students will work in teams to introduce in class a New Testament book as a reflection of a  community of believers, including the theological beliefs and social dynamics. Students must provide a one-page outline of their presentation with copies for all class members.

3. Papers:

A) Single page (paragraph-form, outline or list of comments and issues) each session (morning and afternoon of each class constitute one session each) discussing the theme of the session based in the biblical documents and using assigned reading as resource for your comments (i.e, two one-page papers for each day of class, starting with the second class for a total of 8 one-page papers).   These reading reports will facilitate class discussions, and professors will also react to content of the reports with e-mail comments after each class.

B) Brief written introduction to a New Testament book engaging a course theme based on your presentation in class session, length about 7-10 pages, due no later than November 14.

C) Longer paper of two parts, about equal length, total 20-25 pages, due December 17.
First part: Write an analysis and integration of course material (lectures, readings, discussions) showing the dynamic interaction of several class themes in at least three New Testament documents that reflect the diverse beliefs and practices of the early church. 
Second part: Based on a contemporary ministry setting, (a) describe the important beliefs and practices of participants and (b) write a new New Testament document that might be written for or from that ministry, showing your use of applicable course themes in the practice of ministry. 

4. Participation: 

Informed participation is expected of all students.  Students who must miss all or part of a class day are expected to arrange to cover the same material in other ways (tapes, discussions with other students, etc.).  However, given that we only have five class days in this course, missing more than one full day could lead to withdrawal from class.  In addition, any absence may affect final grade.


Course Outline

September 10

Session I (Morning): INTRODUCTION to the class and the course 
To the social world & interpretative visions of the New Testament
To methods of  Congregational Studies

Read: Brown, ch. 1, pp. 13-30; Howard & Ringe, ch. 1, pp. 1-15; Meeks, ch. 1, pp. 1-50; Rhoads, Introduction and ch 1, pp. 1-38.  

Session II (Afternoon): WITH THE JESUS MOVEMENT, INTIMACY VS. ORDER

Study: Synoptic Gospels (Use Gospel Parallels, e.g., Throckmorton, Gospel Parallels), Identify primitive passages of intimacy (Use Dudley & Hilgert).

Read: Dudley and Hilgert, ch. 1, pp.  1-37; Ringe, “Gentile Woman’s Story.”  

For early forms of structure and order, study MATTHEW

Read: Howard and Ringe, ch. 2, pp. 16-39; Brown, ch. 8, pp. 124-145; Rhodes, ch. 4, pp. 79-98.

Recommended: Theissen, Sociology, ch. I-X, pp. 1-119   

 

October 1  

Session III (Morning):  CHARISMA AND COUNTER-CULTURAL CHRISTIANITY.

Study: MARK, I THESSALONIANS

Read:   Dudley and Hilgert, ch. 2, pp. 38-75; Howard-Brooke & Ringe, ch.7, 122-147.; Meeks, ch. 2, pp. 51-110; Rhoads, ch. 3, pp. 60-78; Max Weber, “The Sociology of Charismatic Authority.”

Recommended:   Jewett, The Thessalonian Correspondence, Ch. 7 & 9, pp. 113-132, 161-178.

Session IV (Afternoon): DEALING WITH CONFLICT and ESTABLISHING AUTHORITY

Study: GALATIANS; 1 CORINTHIANS (also 2 Corinthians)

Read:  Dudley and Hilgert, ch. 4, 104-134; Meeks, ch. 4, pp. 111-139; Rhoads, ch. 2, pp. 39-59. Recommended: Theissen, Social Setting, ch. 2, 3, 4, pp. 69-174; Bartlett, ch. 2, pp. 23-57.


October 2
 

Session V (Morning):  RESOLVING COMMUNAL CONFLICT  THROUGH RITUAL AND ROUTINE

Study: COLOSSIANS & EPHESIANS; (also Philippians)
Read:   Brown, ch. 3, pp. 47- 59; Dudley and Hilgert, ch. 5, pp. 135-166; Howard & Ringe, ch.8, pp. 148-167; Meeks, ch. 5, pp. 140-163.
 
Session VI (Afternoon):  Annual CONTINUITY THROUGH ORGANIZATIONAL

Study: PASTORAL EPISTLES

Read:  Brown, ch. 2, pp. 31-46; Meeks, ch. 4, pp. 111-139 (re-read).
Recommended: Bartlett, ch. 6, pp. 150-184.  
 

November 12 

Session VII (Morning):  CHRISTIANS IN CONFLICT ABOUT STATUS AND JUSTICE

Study: LUKE-ACTS, James  

Read: Brown, ch. 4, pp. 61-74; Howard & Ringe, ch. 4, 6 & 9, pp. 62-79, 103-121; 168-169, 176-179; Rhoads, ch. 5, pp. 99-116.

Recommended: Bartlett, ch. 5, pp. 115-149; Cassidy, Jesus, Politics and Society.

Session VIII (Afternoon):  SUSTAINING CHRISTIAN VISION IN A HOSTILE WORLD

Study: ROMANS, I PETER 

Read:  Brown, ch. 5, pp. 75-83; Dudley and Hilgert, ch. 3, 76-103; Howard & Ringe, ch. 9, 179-182.

Recommended: Tamez, Amnesty of Grace, selections; Elliot, A Home for the Homeless, ch. 1, 2, pp. 21-100.

December 10

Session IX (Morning):  DUALISTIC VISION: WHEN INTIMATE IS UNIVERSAL

Study: GOSPEL OF JOHN, Epistles of John

Read:   Brown, ch. 6, 7, pp. 84-123; Rhoads, ch. 6, pp. 117-135.

Recommended: Bartlett, ch. 4, pp. 89-114; Brown, Community of the Beloved Disciple, 13-144.


Session X (Afternoon):  COSMIC VISION: THE CLASH OF POLITICS AND RELIGION

Study: REVELATION (also Hebrews)  

Read: Dudley and Hilgert, ch. 4, 104-134; Howard & Ringe, ch. 10, 188-206; Meeks, ch. 6, pp. 164-192;
Rhoads, ch. 7, pp. 136-151.

Recommended: Bartlett, ch. 7, pp 185-200.

 

Conclusion: Towards a Congregational Studies Reading of the New Testament    

 

 

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