Academic Programs 

New Testament Survey    SC-531-1 Fall 2002

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.  Application of this message to our own present day will be explored.  


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Wednesdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:20 p.m.
Location: Room 205 

Professor  Efrain Agosto

Contact Information:
(860) 509-9500 

Course Syllabus
Class web site


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, the apocalyptic.
4. Explore tools to help bridge the past of ancient Christian texts to the present-day concerns of faith.

Course Requirements

1. Attendance & informed participation in all classes.

2. Reading

A. Required Reading (Available for Purchase)

Lewis Donelson, From Hebrews to Revelation: A Theological Introduction (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001).

Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A Reader (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

Luke Timothy Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, Revised Edition (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999).

Mitchell G. Reddish, An Introduction to the Gospels (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997).

Calvin J. Roetzel, The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context, Fourth Edition (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998).

B. Recommended Reading (On Reserve in Library)

C.K. Barrett, ed., The New Testament Background, Revised Edition (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1989). 

Fred O. Francis & J. Paul Sampley, eds., Pauline Parallels, 2nd Edition (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984).

Mark Allan Powell, ed., The New Testament Today (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999).  

Russell Pregeant, Engaging the New Testament: An Interdisciplinary Introduction (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995). 

Burton Hamilton Throckmorton, ed., Gospel Parallels: A Synopsis of the First Three Gospels, 5th Edition, New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1992).

3. Written Assignments

A. Oral Presentation- on one of the following books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Ephesians, Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Timothy, Titus), Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, Epistles of John, Revelation.  Student selections of one of these books of the New Testament will be arranged in class.  Students will give basic information about the document - author, date, setting, purpose, structure, message.  A one-page outline of your presentation should be provided for everyone in class.  No longer than 10 minutes.

B. Book Analysis - a 5-page essay in which you flesh out in narrative form the material presented in A above concentrating on the book's purpose, argument and basic message.  Also provide some assessment as to the book's value for and application to faithful living in today's modern world.  Due one week after your oral presentation.

C. Research Paper - a 12-15 page, double-spaced (12-point font) paper on a topic in New Testament studies selected in consultation with the professor.  Paper topic should be decided and submitted on a sheet of paper or by means of an e-mail message to the professor no later than October 30.  Topics may range from a theme that runs across a particular genre of the New Testament (e.g., parables & preaching in Jesus, the meaning of the kingdom of God in the Gospels, the formation and care of congregations in Paul's letters, leadership in the Pastorals, the delay of the parousia in the General Epistles, etc.) to exegesis of a particular passage in a New Testament book (the passage could be from the book studied by the student in assignments A and B above), as long as the passage illustrates well the author's intent in the rest of his work and can be connected to other related books of the New Testament. Further guidelines on this paper will be discussed in class. Due by 5PM on December 18 (one week after final class) in the professor's office, delivered either in person, or by regular mail or e-mail.


Course Schedule

Sept. 11  Introduction to the Course and to the Study of the New Testament

Read: Johnson, 1-16; Donelson, 1-6.
Recommended: Powell, 1-9; Pregeant, 1-40.

Sept. 18 The World of the New Testament

Read: Johnson, 23-88; Reddish, 44-72.  
Recommended:  Barrett, 1-22, 135-176.  
PBS Video Presentation:  "From Jesus to Christ: Part One"

Sept. 25  Understanding Jesus and the Gospels 

Read: Johnson, 125-158; Reddish, 13-43.  
Recommended:  Powell, 10-30. 

Oct. 2  Matthew & Mark

Read: Gospels of Matthew & Mark in Ehrmann, 9-59;  
Johnson, 159-207; Reddish, 73-143.  
Recommended:  Powell, 31-57.  
Student Presentations: Mark and Matthew.

Oct. 9   Luke-Acts

Read: Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts in Ehrmann, 60-91, 145-176;  
Johnson, 213-252; Reddish, 144-179.  
Recommended:  Powell, 58-69. 
Student Presentations: Luke and Acts.

Oct. 16   Introduction to the Apostle Paul: Life, Ministry & Letters;

Read: Johnson, 259-278; Roetzel, 1-66.  
Recommended:  Powell, 86-99.  
PBS Video Presentation:  "From Jesus to Christ, Part II"

Oct. 23    Paul: The Shorter Letters

Read: 1-2 Thessalonians, Philippians, & Philemon in Ehrmann;  
Johnson, 281-291, 369-389; Roetzel, 79-83, 113-118, 148-152.
Student Presentations: 1 Thessalonians and Philippians

Oct. 30   1 & 2 Corinthians

Read: 1-2 Corinthians in Ehrmann, 199-220;  
Johnson, 295-320; Roetzel, 83-96.
Student Presentations: 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians
Paper Topic Due (Brief paragraph on sheet of paper or e-mail to professor)

Nov. 6    Romans & Galatians  

Read: Romans and Galatians in Ehrmann, 185-198; 221-226;  
Johnson, 327-338, 343-363; Roetzel, 96-113.
Student Presentations: Romans & Galatians

Nov. 13   Interpreters of Paul: Disputed Pauline Letters

Read: Colossians, Ephesians, 1-2 Timothy and Titus in Ehrman;  
Johnson, 393-449; Roetzel, 133-160.  
Recommended: Powell, 110-120.  
Student Presentations: Ephesians & Pastorals

Nov. 20   Hebrews & the General Epistles

Read: Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, Jude in Ehrmann, 265-287;  
Johnson, 455-518; Donelson, 7-105.  
Recommended: Powell, 121-131.  
Student Presentations: Hebrews, James and 1 Peter

Nov. 27  Reading Week  - No class

Dec. 4   Johannine Literature

Read:  Gospel and Epistles of John in Ehrmann, 92-115, 288-295;  
Johnson, 521-569; Donelson, 107-131.  
Recommended:  Powell, 70-81.  
Student Presentations: Gospel of John and Epistles of John.

Dec. 11   The Book of Revelation and Conclusion of the Course

Read: Revelation in Ehrmann, 369-385;  
Johnson, 573-589; Donelson, 133-158.  
Recommended:  Powell, 134-142; Barrett, 316-349.
Student Presentation: Revelation

Dec. 18  Final Paper Due in Professor's Office (5PM - in person, regular mail or e-mail)


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500