newweek 14 (posted 8 Apr. 2014)

It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks. (Albert Einstein, 1921, in response to Thomas Edison’s opinion that a college education is useless)

The growing precision of our understanding should enhance, and not diminish our sense of wonder. (Alfred Brendel)

In much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase in sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1.18)

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. (William Butler Yeats)

You must unlearn what you have learned. (Yoda, Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back)

The unexamined life is not worth living. (Socrates [Plato, Apology, 38a])

ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ. (= Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα.; Socrates)


exegesis guidelines


Na home

Westminster College

REL 107: New Testament

Spring 2014

Welcome to 107: New Testament. This course is a general introduction to and an exploration of the New Testament. More specifically, you will be able to:

•   discuss what the New Testament is and what its significance is for Western culture and for the world

•   discuss the contents of the NT, including major themes and issues

•   read carefully and critically passages from a variety of NT books as well as from extra-canonical sources

•   discuss the meaning(s) of NT passages in their historical contexts (e.g., cultural, geographical, literary, political contexts) as well as in relation to contemporary thought

•   identify methodological issues involved in NT interpretation

•   demonstrate exegetical skills using modern methods of interpretation, especially the historical-critical method

•   demonstrate an appreciation of NT texts that is both critical and creative

Achieving these goals will require hard work on your part, which will bring many challenging, enlightening, exciting, frustrating, and rewarding experiences.

Accessibility Statement:

Westminster College actively strives for the full inclusion of all our students. Students with disabilities who require access solutions for environmental or curricular barriers should contact Faith Craig, Director of Disability Resources: 209 Thompson-Clark Hall; 724-946-7192;



This course is designed so that anyone, religious or not, who does the required work can attain the goals mentioned above. This course is not designed to persuade you to a particular faith or religious point of view. Nor is it intended to build up or disparage existing faith, although an informed understanding of the New Testament can lead to a deeper appreciation of Christianity. Students who consider themselves to be followers of any religion, or of no religion at all, are welcome on this semester journey to become better acquainted with the New Testament, to learn to appreciate it better, and to become informed and responsible interpreters of it.


Requirements and evaluation for the course


For my criteria for evaluation of assignments go to Evaluation and read the information carefully.

N.B.: If you have any questions about any assignment, please ask in class or make an appointment to see me.

N.B.: If you have any questions about any evaluation or how you are doing in the course, please make an appointment to see me.




Assigned readings should be completed before the class for which they are assigned—use your best judgment to divide the readings evenly for each week. Keeping notes on the readings is highly recommended. Occasionally I may assign additional readings, but these will ordinarily be short. You must come to class with at least 2 written questions or comments in response to the readings (see Participation). Cultivate the ability to ask informed questions about the readings based on the knowledge you gain along the way; the demonstration of your ability to formulate questions will affect the evaluation of your semester grade.

N.B.: Not all the assigned readings may be covered in class discussions or exams, but they are assigned for your edification in achieving the goals of the course. Your use of them in class discussion and in your work will affect the evaluation of your semester grade.



You will draw a map of the Roman Empire during the first century and write a paper on one of the places on the map.

  • You must draw (or trace) the map by hand (on a letter-size paper). How colorful or artistic the map is will not affect the grade.
    • The map must show important boundaries, territories, and cities of the Roman Empire, as well as the most significant places in Palestine, including the main areas of Jesus’ ministry
    • The map should include at least the following: Alexandria, Antioch, Athens, Jerusalem, Rome.

  • The paper, which is the main part of this assignment, should consist of 700–1,000 words on one of the places (area or city).
    • It should Include:
      • 1) basic or notable facts about the place
      • 2) reasons for its significance for the Roman Empire or for understanding the New Testament, or for both
    • Do not report merely where or how many times in the NT the place is mentioned; avoid mere summaries or paraphrases of biblical narratives.
    • Follow all the instructions given on my Evaluation page under Written assignments.
    • Use footnotes or endnotes to document your sources following the Chicago Manual of Style—for help: NoodleTools. Learn the automatic footnote (and endnote) function of your word processor.
    • The Oxford Bible Atlas and the maps at the end of NOAB (see "Required books" below) are good places to start.
    • If possible, scan and insert the map at the end of your paper file; if not, submit the map

  • As soon as you submit your paper, make an appointment to review your graded paper with me.

You may be given the chance to revise your paper after its evaluation. Should you choose to do so, your revision will be evaluated and the final grade will be the average of the two.



You will submit at an exegesis paper on a portion of 1 Corinthians 15. In choosing a specific part or theme within 1 Corinthians 15, consult critical commentaries and academic journals, i.e., scholarly books and articles with lots of (foot)notes. For help with exegesis, see my Exegesis guidelines page. You may also find the Tips for writing papers helpful.


Make an appointment as early as you can in the semester to discuss (1) your paper idea and (2) your preliminary bibliography (bring a hard copy). The narrower and more specific your thesis—i.e., the argument you plan to make in your paper—the better.


•   The paper should consist of 1,000–1,300 words.

•   Include at least a historical-critical understanding of the text(s) and present possible meanings in it (them).

•   If possible, include an analysis of the structure of the text(s).

•   The paper should represent original work (i.e., your own thoughts), not a mere digest of other people's opinions. Your own reading and re-reading of the relevant texts, as well as review of other materials, are fundamental to the task. I want to know what you discover in your engagement with the biblical text, whether or not you agree with the course books, commentaries, or opinions presented in class, including mine.

N.B.: Focus on honing your ability to argue for your opinions and conclusions by supporting them with evidence from texts (especially primary texts) and other relevant sources.

•   Your final bibliography (not just “works cited”) must contain at least 8 sources used in your paper, including 4 periodical (journal) articles. Electronic sources count only if you provide evidence that they are scholarly sources.

•   Use footnotes or endnotes to document your sources following the Chicago Manual of Style—for help: NoodleTools. Learn the automatic footnote (and endnote) function of your word processor.

•   Follow all the instructions given on my Evaluation page under Written assignments.


You may request permission to revise your paper after its evaluation. If you submit a revision, the final grade will be the average of the grades earned on the original and on the revision.


Throughout the semester, you will be responsible for learning significant terms covered in our texts or in class (see the “terms” file on the R-drive). You will be responsible for the definitions. Use (1) the course texts, e.g., glossary, index, (2) the resources listed in Resources to consider below, or (3) any other appropriate sources of information. The terms may constitute a part of any quiz or exam.




There will be a midterm exam covering all the materials in the course, including the reading assignments and terms we will have covered by the time of the exam. The final exam will cover the entire sweep of the course. There may be pop quizzes, the results of which will affect the evaluation of your participation. See my Evaluation page under Quizzes and examinations.


In lieu of the final exam, you may take a 30-minute oral exam. You must meet with me before April 15 to discuss this option.


Grades will be assigned as fairly as possible. See my Evaluation page under Grades for more information. The final grade for the course will consist of the following:

exegesis paper


Participation is a significant part of this course.

See my Evaluation page under Participation

for more information and instructions.

final exam


midterm exam


map paper


participation (including pop quizzes)



N.B.: If you have any questions about any assignment, please ask in class or make an appointment to see me.

N.B.: If you have any questions about any evaluation or how you are doing in the course, please make an appointment to see me.



You may earn extra credit any time during the semester.

•   Submit a paper consisting of 700–1,000 words relating something from popular culture (e.g., movie, play, TV show, book, any performance) to a particular biblical text or theme (consult the instructor).

•   The paper should be mostly critique (not mere summary or description).


N.B.: The instructor reserves the right to make the final determination concerning any extra credit. You can earn a maximum of 5% toward the final grade. You may write more than one, if you wish, but you won't receive more than 5% total in extra credit.


Required books

Brown, Michael J. What They Don't Tell You: A Survivor's Guide to Biblical Studies. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000.

Ehrman, Bart D. A Brief Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

White, Gregory. The NET Bible Synopsis of the Four Gospels. Richardson: Biblical Studies Press, 2013.


Recommended books (* = highly recommended)

The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (NRSV). You may use another Bible, if you wish, but the New Oxford Annotated Bible (NOAB) will be the common text for class assignments and discussions. N.B.: table of contents, introductions, essays, tables, glossary, maps, etc. are all very helpful. In all cases, you are encouraged to use other English translations (e.g., NIV) and Bibles in other languages in addition to the NRSV. The Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) is especially recommended for comparison of Old Testament passages.

* Achtemeier, Paul. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.

* Brown, Raymond E. Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine. Wipf & Stock, 2002.

* _______. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. New York: Paulist Press, 1994.

* _______. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

* _______. Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible. New York: Paulist Press,1990.

* Bultmann, Rudolf. Jesus Christ and Mythology. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

* Goodacre, Mark. The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze. London: T. & T. Clark, 2001. (N.B. free book online)

* Meyer, Paul. The Word in This World. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

Pelikan, Jaroslav. Jesus through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

* Robinson, James M. A New Quest of the Historical Jesus. London: SCM Press, 1959.

Sanders, E. P. and Margaret Davies. Studying the Synoptic Gospels. London: SCM Press, 1989.

Segal, Alan F. Rebecca’s Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986.

* Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1979. (See my Resources page under Miscellaneous for the first edition of Strunk.)


Resources to consider

See my Resources page for McGill, AV, and Web resources, esp. The NT Gateway.

R-drive: course folder and the “NaFiles” folder

Bible concordances (McGill library)

Ferguson, Duncan S. Bible Basics. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995.

Turner, Nicholas. The Handbook for Biblical Studies. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1982.


Keeping in touch

During the semester check your e-mail regularly for messages regarding course matters (e.g., changes in the syllabus). Visit and reload (refresh) this page for updates to the syllabus; see also my homepage for other information and resources related to the course. Please feel free to make an appointment any time about any course matters.


Tips from former students

For some practical advice from former students, see the tips page.


One last word . . .

Regardless of how demanding all of this is, I promise to be as fair as possible. I recognize that you will be very busy this semester pursuing various obligations and passions. I understand. I have my passions too, e.g., my family, music, philosophy, nature, mountain biking, fixing things, food. But I am also very passionate about education, both yours and mine—I mean not just the business of acquiring knowledge but more importantly the total development of honorable human beings. I do not require you to share my excitement about all the things we will cover, but I do expect you to do your best to complete the requirements for the course. To help you do that, I will make myself available outside the class time and the office hours. I will be glad to help you when you are struggling with an assignment. Or if you have any questions, concerns, complaints, and even compliments, I will do my best to take the time to listen and offer my response. Keep in mind that I am here to help you learn. So again, welcome to Religion 107: New Testament.

Course schedule MWF 3:10–4:10     PH 208

REL 107

= required

+ = in the library (N.B.: Please do not check them out, so that others may read them in the library.)

bold = primary text(s) for presentation or class (discussion)

> = recommended / suggested

Week 1


Jan 13 M

Jan 15

Jan 17

General orientation

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations, and criteria for grading—ask Qs, if you have any)

1 Macc (skim slowly)

Brown: Prolegomena; ch. 1

Ehrman: xxi–xxiv, xxvi, xxix–xxxiii; ch. 1 ("Take a Stand" sections can provide helpful review.)

>NOAB: introductory notes

Memorize the books of the Protestant canon in order (learn correct spelling). [also: comparison chart; canons; some early NT canons]

Translation comparison

Christmas Quiz

Easter Quiz (N.B.: take this "quiz" before reading the following)

1 Cor 15.3–10

Mk 15.40–16.8

Mt 27.55–28.20

Lk 23.48–24.53

Jn 19.25–21.25

Acts 1.1–2.4

Gos Pet (N.B. Q10 on "Easter Quiz")

Remember: bring your Qs & Cs to each class (see Participation).

Copy all relevant Web pages and resources to your hard disk or flash drive, etc. for easy access. Keep the copies updated.

Week 2


Jan 22 W

Jan 24

Jan 27

Greeks, Romans, and Jews

1 Macc (skim slowly)

1 Macc 1–2; 4.36–61 (Hanukkah)

Ehrman: chs. 2–3

Brown: Rule of Thumb 1–10

Transmission errors

>The Greeks (interactive site): read about Socrates, Plato, etc.

Week 3


Jan 29 W

Jan 31

Feb 3

Judaism(s); Jesus traditions; the Synoptic Problem

feeding 5K folks (all week):

Mk 6.30–44 (cf. 8.1–10; 19–20)

Mt 14.13–21 (cf. 15.32–39; 16.9–10)

Lk 9.10–17

Jn 6.1–15

Inf Gos Thom

Nicene Creed & Apostles' Creed

Ehrman: chs. 3–4

Brown: Rule of Thumb 11–19

+Brown: Intro to NT Christology, 155–61 (“A Brief History of the Development of the Royal Messianic Hope in Israel”)

+Sanders & Davies: Synoptic Gospels, 51–119 (skim)

>coloring scheme for the Synopsis

>Synopses (very helpful for comparisons)

>some synoptic solutions

Week 4


Feb 5 W

Feb 7

Feb 10

Mark (a trend-setter?): Suffering Messiah

Ehrman: ch. 5

Mk 1.1–16.8 (–16.20):

Mk 1.1–15 (esp. vv. 9–11, 12–13, 14–15) & ||s

Mk 4.1–20 (esp. vv. 11–13), 33–34 & ||s: purpose of parables?

Mk 4.35–41 & ||s: power over nature (cf. Gen 1.1–3)

Mk 6.1–6a & ||s: unable or unwilling to do mighty works? (cf. Mk 3.31–35: Jesus' family)

Mk 8.1–9.1 (esp. 8.27–33, 9.1) & ||s

Mk 15.33–16.8 (–16.20) & ||s: What really happened?

Week 5


Feb 12 W

Feb 14

Feb 17

Matthew: the teacher par excellence

Ehrman: ch. 6

Matthew (all):

Mt 1.1–17 & ||: the begat list (cf. 1 Chr 1)

Mt 1.18–2.23 & || (?): where did Joseph & Mary live?

Mt 5.1–7.27 & ||s (?): Sermon on the Mount (walk this way; talk this way)

Mt 5.3–12 & ||: Beatitudes

Mt 5.17–20; 7.21–23: Torah (cf. Heb 3.1–6)

Mt 6.5–15 (cf. Lk 11.1–4): Lord's Prayer

Mt 7.12: Golden Rule

Mt 10.1–11.1 & ||s

Mt 10.34–39: anti-family?

Mt 13.1–52 & ||s

Mt 18.1–35 & ||s

Mt 19.1–11 & ||s

Mt 20.1–16: fair?

Mt 21.1–11 & ||s: how many animals can Jesus ride?

Mt 25.31–46: sheep & goats

Xmas Quiz

Sermon on the Mount

Phraseology: KoG & KoH

Week 6


Feb 19 W

Feb 21

Feb 24

Luke: champion of the outcast

Ehrman: ch. 7

Luke (all):

Lk 1.46–55: radical song?

Lk 3.23–38 (cf. Mt 1.1–17): significance?

Lk 4.1–13: when will the devil return? (see 22.3)

Lk 4.14–30: why are they outraged? (cf. 1.46–55; 4.14–30)

Lk 6.17–38, esp. 24–26: cf. Mt

Lk 10.25–37: who's the neighbor?

Lk 10.27 & ||s; Dt 6.4–5; Lev 19.18; Rom 13.9; Gal 5.14; Jas 2.8

Lk 10.38–42: women disciples?

Lk 11.1–4 (cf. Mt 6.7–13): which Lord's Prayer should Christians pray?

Lk 15.11–32: lost & found?

Lk 16.1–9: huh? fair?

Lk 22.7–23 & ||s: Last Supper (when was it? which was first: bread or wine?)

Cotton Patch: Lk 10.25–37

Cotton Patch: Lk 15

Week 7


Feb 26 W

Feb 28

Mar 3

John: love divine

Ehrman: ch. 8

logos ("the Word") in English: note all the English definitions; also here (tip: look for the breaks or spaces)

John (all):

Jn 1.1–18: Logos Christology

Jn 3.1–21; 4.1–42; 6; 10; 20

Jn 6.22–71: eat what?

Jn 12.27–36; cf. Mk 14.32–42 & ||s): agony?

Jn 13.1–20: eat or feet?

Jn 13.31–35: how would others know?

Jn 18.2–11; cf. ||s: the arrest

Jn 20.19–29 (esp. vv. 22, 28); cf. Lk 24.36–43

Phraseology: KoG & KoH

1–3 Jn

+Brown: Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible, Q34–44

Week 8


Mar 5 W

Mar 7


Mar 10–16



Mar 17

Mar 5: midterm exam

Mar 7: map paper due (

Gospels in retrospect

•+Brown: Intro to NT, 99–122 (“Gospels in General”)

Bring notes on the exciting, interesting, puzzling, or even upsetting thing you discovered in your study of the Gospels.

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if any)


The historical Jesus?

Ehrman: chs. 9–10
•+Brown: Intro to NT, 817–30 (“The Historical Jesus”); 105–7 (“Portraits of Jesus”)
James Charlesworth: "The Historical Jesus and Exegetical Theology" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 22 (2001): 45–63
Nicene Creed & Apostles' Creed
Gos Thom (Patterson & Robinson translation; also Gos Thom)
Inf Gos Thom
Sec Gos Mk (also Sec Gos Mk)
Gos Pet
Prot Jas

Review beginnings of the Gospels

Mt 10.2–4 & ||s: who were the disciples? (N.B. the order)

Week 9


Mar 19 W

Mar 21

Mar 24

Acts: the early church, from Jerusalem to Rome

Ehrman: ch. 11


Acts 2; 10–11; 15.1–35: the spirit moves in mysterious & blasphemous ways

Acts 9.1–22; 22.4–16; 26.9–18: reports  of Paul's conversion

Acts 17.16–34: apostle among philosophers in Athens

Acts 28.30–31


Paul: second founder of Christianity?

Ehrman: chs. 12–13

2 Pet 3.15–16: what does this say about Paul?

Gal 1.13–17 (cf. Acts 9.1–22; 22.4–16; 26.9–18): Paul's call

Isa 49.1–6

Jer 1.1–10

1 Thess

1 Thess 4.13–5.11 (cf. 1 Cor 15.51–53): Paul's (early) eschatology (cf. Phil 3.10–11)

Wrede on Paul

The End Is Always Near (skim)

Week 10


Mar 26 W

Mar 28

Mar 31

Unity & freedom in Christ: Corinthian problems with freedom

Ehrman: ch. 14

1 Cor

1 Cor 6.1–20; 10.14–33; 15.51

1 Cor 12: unity

1 Cor 13: apostle of love (cf. Rom 13.8–10; John 13.34–35; Gal 5.14; Mk 12.28–34; Mt 22.34–40; Lk 10.27; Jas 2.8; Lev 19.18)

2 Cor


Faith (pistis) & freedom: Galatian problems with freedom

Ehrman: ch. 15


Gal 2.11–14 (cf. Acts 10–11): Gentiles & Jews in the church

Gal 3 (cf. Rom 4; 7.7–13): what about the Torah?

Gal 3.23–29; cf. 1 Cor 12.12–13 (cf. Col 3.1–11): freedom in Christ

Phil: joy & the Parousia

Phil 2.6–11

3.2–11 (cf. 1 Thess 4.13–5.11; 1 Cor 15.51–53)



Faith (pistis) & freedom again: Roman problems with freedom

Ehrman: ch. 16


Rom 1.1–6: Paul's Christology

Rom 9–11: what about Israel?

Rom 13.8–10 (cf. 1 Cor 13; John 13.34–35; Gal 5.14; Mk 12.28–34; Mt 22.34–40; Lk 10.27; Jas 2.8; Lev 19.18): apostle of love

Week 11


Apr 2 W

Apr 4

Apr 7

Pauline tradition: Paul revisited, revised?
The early church organizes: on the way to "orthodoxy"?

Ehrman: chs. 17–18
2 Thess
Col & Eph (in this order)
1–2 Tim
•+Brown: Responses, Q89–92

Who’s in charge?: the masculinization of the church & gospel of freedom

1 Cor 11.3–16

Eph 5.21–6.9

Col 3.18–4.1

1 Tim 2.8–15

1 Pet 2.18–3.7

(cf. Rom 10.11–13; Gal 3.27–29; 1 Cor 12.12–13; Col 3.9–11)


Faith under fire

Ehrman: ch. 19


Heb 2.1–4; 3.1–6 (cf. Mt); 5.7

Heb 2.14–18; 4.14–16: Christology

1 Pet

1 Pet 2.11–4.11 (esp. 2.13–17, 18–25): faith & societal issues


The church in conflict: false (?) teachers & alternatives to Paul; orthodoxy, heterodoxy, heresy

Ehrman: ch. 20


Jas 2.14–26: not quite Paul (cf. Mt)

Jude & 2 Pet (in this order)

2 Pet 3.1–18: the delay of the Parousia

1–3 Jn (cf. language of the Gospel According to John)

Week 12


Apr 9 W

Apr 11

Apr 14

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if any)

The church in conflict: false (?) teachers & alternatives to Paul; orthodoxy, heterodoxy, heresy

Ehrman: Ch. 20
Jas 2.14–26: not quite Paul (cf. Mt)
Jude & 2 Pet (in this order)
1–3 Jn


The church under persecution: persecution, apocalyptic & eschatology

Ehrman: Ch. 21

Rev 1.1–3
Rev 5.6; 12.3–9; 13.11–18: portrait of good & evil
•Rom 13.1–7, 1 Tim 2.1 & 1 Pet 2.13–17: faith & the empire
The End Is Always Near (skim)

Week 13


Apr 16 W


Apr 17–21



Apr 22

Apr 23

Loose ends and final thoughts: biblical theology; canon

The question: "So what?"

Gabler: "On the Proper Distinction between Biblical and Dogmatic Theology and the Specific Objectives of Each" in the Scottish Journal of Theology 33 (1980): 133–158

bring your Qs & Cs (esp. on the distinction between biblical theology & dogmatic theology)

bring some synoptic examples that illustrate the issues discussed by Gabler (esp. on the distinction between biblical theology & dogmatic theology)

Week 14


Apr 25 F

Apr 28

May 2

Saturday, April 26: movie night with the Nas 7:48     PM-ish
Feel free to bring DVDs of movies you think your classmates should see. For directions click here.

Apr 25 May 2: paper due (

Loose ends and final thoughts: faith, history & text

The question: "So what?"

Paul Meyer: “Faith and History” in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 10 (1989): 75–83

bring your Qs & Cs (esp. on the three)

bring some synoptic examples that illustrate the issues discussed by Meyer (esp. on the three options and Meyer's proposal)

May 5 M

Review session for final exam?

May 6 T

F  i  n  a  l     e  x  a  m: 8:00–10:30 (regular classroom)


exegesis guidelines


Na home

Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously. (G. K. Chesterton)

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die. (Anonymous)