Academic Programs 
      

New Testament Survey   (SC-531)
Fall 2007

This course introduces the student to the study of the origins of Christianity by means of its canonical literature, the New Testament. We will undertake a historical study of the New Testament documents, seeking to understand their plan, origin, purpose and content within their broader historical and cultural context. Appropriate interpretive method for each genre of the New Testament will be discussed. We will also seek to clarify the theological message of each document in light of its historical circumstances, with a view toward understanding their meaning for today.

 

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Wednesdays, 9:30AM -12:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 – Nov. 14, 2007

 

Efrain Agosto
Professor of New Testament


Contact Information:

phone:

email:
 

 

Course Syllabus




Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

1. Have greater understanding of the world from which the New Testament literature emerges.
2. Read and study each of the New Testament books in its historical context.
3. Better understand genres in the New Testament: gospels, epistles, apocalyptic literature.
4. Explore ways to bridge the past of ancient Christian texts to the present-day concerns of faith.

Course Requirements

1. Attendance & informed participation in all classes. (Absences without adequate excuse will affect final grade.)

2. Reading:

A. Required Reading (Available for Purchase):

• A Modern Translation of the New Testament, preferably the New Revised Standard Version, the New International Version, or the Jerusalem Bible New Testament. The bookstore will have copies of Bart Ehrman, The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A Reader, 2nd edition (Oxford University Press, 1998, 2004), which includes the NRSV translation of the New Testament plus other non-canonical writings of the early church. Study bibles, such as the Oxford Annotated Study Bible or the Harper Collins Study Bible are also good resources to own.

• Luke T. Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament, Revised Edition (Fortress Press, 1999). Basic introduction to the New Testament, with a focus on social and historical context, and theological meaning.

• Daniel Patte, general editor, Global Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2004), selected essays and commentaries will be read from this major work by international scholars and practitioners of scripture from a variety of global settings.

• Mitchell G. Reddish, An Introduction to the Gospels (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997). A guide to understanding the four gospels.

• Calvin J. Roetzel, The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context, Fourth Edition (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998). Good introduction to Paul, his world, his letters and theological issues in them.

• Three chapters on the Book of Acts, the Book of Hebrews and the Book of Revelation, respectively, from Wes Howard-Brook & Sharon Ringe, The New Testament – Introducing the Way of Discipleship (see below under recommended reading), on reserve in library.

B. Recommended Reading (On Reserve in Library)

• Efrain Agosto, Servant Leadership: Jesus and Paul (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2005). The professor’s readings of the gospels and the Pauline letters from the perspective of leadership and ministry.

• C.K. Barrett, ed., The New Testament Background, Revised Edition (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1989). Source material from the Greco-Roman world of the New Testament.

• Lewis Donelson, From Hebrews to Revelation: A Theological Introduction (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001). More readings on the “last third” of the New Testament, with focus on theological issues.

• Fred O. Francis & J. Paul Sampley, eds., Pauline Parallels, 2nd Edition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984). An easy reference for comparing parallel Pauline passages.

• Wes Howard-Brook & Sharon Ringe, The New Testament – Introducing the Way of Discipleship (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002). Feminist and liberationist readings of the various New Testament writings.

• Mark Allan Powell, ed., The New Testament Today (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999). End of 20th century bibliographic essays on New Testament writings.

• Russell Pregeant, Engaging the New Testament: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995). Another introductory textbook, with an excellent opening chapter on reading strategies for the New Testament.

• Burton Hamilton Throckmorton, ed., Gospel Parallels: A Synopsis of the First Three Gospels, 5th Edition, New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1992). Important tool for reading and comparing the Synoptic Gospels.

3. Speaking & Writing:

• Each student will make a presentation in class in one of the following ways:

a. Select two of the essays on Jesus in pp.329 to 349 of the Global Biblical Commentary that are different from your own perspective, and compare it to the analysis of the meaning of Jesus offered by Luke Johnson (chapter 6, pp.125-149). On Sept. 26, make a ten-minute oral presentation on the topic. One week after your oral presentation (Oct. 3), submit a typed, five page double-spaced (12-pt. font) reflection on your study of these essays and your own understanding of Jesus in the gospels.

b. Select a miracle story, parable or narrative incident in the life of Jesus that appears in more than one of the Synoptic Gospels. Study the passages in a Synoptic Parallel, note changes and differences from one Gospel to the other, read what commentators say about the pericope, and on October 3 make a 10-minute oral presentation briefly describing the details of the story, explaining its purpose and function in the overall narrative of each gospel, and discussing its theological message. One week after your presentation (October 10), submit a 5-page summary, typed and double-spaced (12-point font).

c. Select one of the following “uncontested” Pauline letters – Galatians, Philippians, or 1 Thessalonians, and one of the following “Deutero-Paulines” – Colossians, Ephesians, or 1 Timothy. In a 10-minute presentation on October 31, discuss what makes the first letter definitely “Paul’s” and what make the second “doubtful.” What makes both of them, including the second, “Pauline”? Use the discussion in Roetzel, 133-160, and Howard-Brooke/Ringe, 148-167, as backdrop for your research and write a 5-page summary of your findings to be submitted Nov. 7.

• Each student will write a 15-page final, research paper on a ministerial or theological issue or set of related issues that crosses several of the New Testament letters, whether the Pauline or Deutero-Pauline letters, or several of the Catholic Epistles, or the Johannine literature (both Gospel and Epistles). Sample topics include issues of leadership in Paul; how Paul handles conflict in a variety of his congregations; the role of women in the Pauline mission (you may want to add, “as compared to the Jesus movement”); the theme of justification in Paul; the theme of reconciliation in Paul; Paul and the law; the impact of the delay of the parousia on the churches represented by the Catholic epistles; the confrontation of the early church (Paul, the Catholic Epistles, or John’s Revelation) with the Roman Empire; Jews and “Christians” in Paul, the Early Church, or the Johannine community, etc. Your paper should reflect both the analysis of several relevant passages in the writings you are studying and what scholars are saying about these topics. Nonetheless, your own voice should be loud and clear in the presentation of the material and your conclusions about it. Please discuss your topic with the professor (via email, phone call, or office appointment) and submit a one-paragraph description of your topic by October 24. Final paper should be typed, double-spaced, 12-point font and submitted on December 12.

Course Schedule

September 12 Introduction to the Course, the Study of the New Testament and the World of the New Testament.

Read: Johnson, 1-91; Reddish, 44-72.
Recommended: Pregeant, 1-40; Barrett, 1-22, 135-176; Agosto, 13-24.
PBS Video Presentation: "From Jesus to Christ: Part One"

September 19 Understanding Jesus and the Gospels

Read: Johnson, 93-158; Reddish, 13-43; Patte, 329-349.
Recommended: Powell, 10-30; Agosto, 25-61.

September 26 The Gospels of Mark & Matthew

Read: Mark & Matthew; 159-211; Johnson, 159-211; Reddish, 73-143; Patte, 350-384.
Recommended: Powell, 31-57; Agosto, 62-96.
Student Presentations: Perspectives on Jesus


October 3 Studies in Luke-Acts

Read: Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts; Johnson, 213-257; Reddish, 144-179; Patte, 385-400; 419-428.
Recommended: Howard-Brook/Ringe, 103-121; Powell, 58-69.
Student Presentations: Pericope Analyses
Due: Jesus Papers

October 10 The Apostle Paul: Life, Mission & Letters

Read: 1-2 Thessalonians; Johnson, 259-293; Roetzel, 1-83
Recommended: Howard-Brooke/Ringe, 122-147; Agosto, 97-120; Powell, 86-109.
PBS Video Presentation: "From Jesus to Christ, Part II"
Due: Pericope Papers

October 17 Paul’s Corinthian & Galatian Correspondence

Read: 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians; Johnson, 295-340; Patte, 44-472; Roetzel, 83-103.
Recommended: Agosto, 165-196

October 24 Romans, Philippians & Philemon

Read: Romans, Philippians & Philemon; Johnson, 343-391; Patte, 429-443; 482-489; 522-526; Roetzel, 103-118.
Recommended: Agosto, 121-164.
Due: Final Paper Topics

October 31 Deutero-Paul: Colossians, Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles

Read: Colossians, Ephesians, 1-2 Timothy and Titus; Johnson, 393-452; Roetzel, 133-160; Patte, 473-481; 490-499; 508-521.
Recommended: Brooke-Howard/Ringe, 148-167; Powell, 110-120.
Student Presentations: On Paul and the Deutero-Paulines

November 7 The General Epistles: Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter and Jude

Read: Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter and Jude; Johnson, 455-518; Patte, 527-552; Howard-Brooke, 168-187.
Recommended: Donelson, 1-105; Powell, 121-133.
Due: Paul/Deutero-Paul Papers


November 14 Johannine Literature and the Book of Revelation; Conclusion of Course

Read: The Gospel and Letters of John; the Book of Revelation; Johnson, 521-592; Patte, 401-418; 553-570; Reddish, 180-213; Howard-Brooke, 188-206.
Recommended: Donelson, 107-158; Barrett, 316-349; Powell, 70-81; 134-146.

December 12 Final Paper Due in Professor's Office (by 5PM - in person, regular mail or e-mail).

Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500  info@hartsem.edu