newweek 13 (posted 15 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 206: Jesus

Spring 2014

Welcome to Religion 206: Jesus (or Everything you always wanted to know about Jesus, but were too afraid or busy to ask).


Recent decades have seen Jesus once again become the object of much scholarly research. Just as significant is the fact that the media have made the results of academic investigations much more accessible to the general public (for better or worse?). This course is a general introduction designed to acquaint you with the research concerning Jesus, both past and present, and to equip you with academic tools with which to explore critically and creatively the evidence available in the New Testament as well as extra-canonical sources.


More specifically, you will be able to:

•   to become familiar with, and clarify the meaning of, the so-called quest after the historical Jesus during the past two centuries and currently

•   to identify the major issues or problems involved in Jesus research

•   to discuss the relationship between the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith”

•   to identify and discuss critically evidence appropriate to Jesus research, especially biblical texts

•   to read carefully and critically passages relevant to Jesus research from a variety of biblical and extra-canonical texts

•   to identify and discuss what is at stake, if any, for academia and for Christianity (and Judaism)

•   discuss what the significance of Jesus research is for Western culture and for the world


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 Jesus and his significance 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 so-called quest after the historical Jesus and to become informed and responsible interpreters of traditions—religious, academic, and secular—regarding Jesus.


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.



Classes will be conducted as quasi-seminars. The instructor will present some materials, but much of the class will be designated for discussion of the readings. You will prepare a 10-minute discussion starter during the semester presenting

•   the main idea(s) or main point(s) of the reading assignment (see the course schedule below for the texts in bold to be presented)

•   your critique or response to it (including references to previous readings)—this should be the focus and main portion of the presentation

Include within your presentation critical questions, challenges, discoveries, insights, etc. that you had while, or after, reading the assignment—these will initiate class discussion following your presentation


You are expected to have read the text(s) thoroughly and be able to share the penetrating questions or issues you dealt with in your reading, preparation, or even further research. N.B.: you do not necessarily have to understand everything before class, but you should demonstrate that you prepared and that you can discern, and are familiar with, the major issues in the text(s). Remember that questions are more valuable than answers.


See my Evaluation page under Presentations for evaluation criteria (do not be concerned about the “Communication Skills” section of the Presentation evaluation page). If you wish to use a PowerPoint presentation, let me know in advance.


Each of you will lead a discussion at least once during the semester (twice, if time permits). When you will be asked, only the muses know. If you are not prepared to do so for some reason, let me know before the class begins, so that I will not call on you.

N.B.: You should prepare notes for each class as if you were the discussion leader. I.e., everyone is expected to do the preparatory work, not just the presenter.



You will submit at an research paper (1,600–2,500 words) on either a pericope of your choice from among the canonical Gospels or a topic of your choice. Click here for ideas and


In choosing your paper topic, 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.

•   You must submit (in one file on a paper proposal that includes:

a thoughtful and clear articulation of your research interest—the more detailed, narrower, and specific the research interest, the better (try to formulate a thesis—i.e., the argument you plan to make in your paper)

a preliminary bibliography that includes at least 10 secondary sources (besides course textbooks and reference books) you found to be promising for your paper, including 5 periodical (journal) articles (newspapers and magazines are acceptable if appropriate for your paper)

Electronic sources count only if you provide evidence that they are scholarly sources. Use the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian) for footnotes and the bibliography.

Submit your proposal as early as possible in the semester, so that it can be approved for you to begin work. Make an appointment as early as you can to bring a hard copy of your proposal for discussion and approval.

•   You are strongly encouraged to make further appointments for feedback on your progress.

•   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 text(s)—a "text" can be written works, art works, music, plays, movies, interview, research results, poll data etc.—whether or not you agree with the authors or the opinions presented in class, including mine.

N.B.: Focus on honing your ability (1) to argue for your opinions and conclusions persuasively and (2) to support them with evidence from texts (especially primary sources) and other relevant sources.

•   Your final bibliography (N.B.: not 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.

N.B.: the word-count will not include footnotes and endnotes.

•   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:

research paper


Participation is a significant part of this course.

See my Evaluation page under Participation

for more information and instructions.

final exam


midterm exam


discussion starter(s)


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

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

Crossan, John Dominic. Jesus: a Revolutionary Biography. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

den Heyer, C. J. Jesus Matters: 150 Years of Research. Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1996.

Johnson, Luke T. The Real Jesus. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996.

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.

Aland, Kurt, ed. Synopsis of the four Gospels. New York: United Bible Societies, 1982. (also available in Greek-English version)

Borg, Marcus. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

_____. Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship. Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1994.

* Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. New York: Paulist Press, 1994.

_____. 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. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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

Finaldi, Gabriele. The Image of Christ. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

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

Hengel, Martin. Judaism and Hellenism. London: SCM Press, 1974.

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

Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Illustrated Jesus Through the Centuries. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997.

_____. 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.

* Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Text also here.

Tatum, W. Barnes. In Quest of Jesus: A Guidebook. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.

Wright, N. T. The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

_____. Who Was Jesus? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

* 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 206: Jesus.

Course schedule TR 2:00–3:30     PH 210

REL 206

= 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 14 T

Jan 16

General orientation

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

den Heyer: Introduction, ch. 1

+Brown, Intro to NT Christology: 162–70 (“The Reality of the Resurrection of Jesus”)

+Robinson: 26–47

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")

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

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.

>Schweitzer: Preface, Introduction

>NOAB: introductory notes

Week 2

Jan 21 T

Jan 23

The Synoptic tradition / problem: 1 Gospel, 2 Gospels, 3, or 4 . . . or more?

den Heyer: ch. 2

+Sanders & Davies: 51–83 (skim)

Nicene Creed & Apostles' Creed

Inf Gos Thom
Gos Thom (Patterson & Robinson translation)


den Heyer: ch. 3

+Sanders & Davies: 84–92 (skim)

Schweitzer: ch 1new

>Schweitzer: chs. 1–2

>Synopses (very helpful for comparisons)

>some synoptic solutions

Week 3

Jan 28 T

Jan 30

Did the Magi ever meet the shepherds?

Birth Narratives (all week):

Mt 1.1–2.23

Lk 1.5–2.52; 3.23–38

(cf. Rom 1.3–4; John 1.1–18; Mk 1.1–11)

den Heyer: ch. 4

+Brown: Responses, Q54–60

+Sanders & Davies: 93–119 (skim)

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


den Heyer: ch. 5

Lk 2.41–52

Inf Gos Thom

Nicene Creed & Apostles' Creed

>Schweitzer: chs. 3–4

>coloring scheme for the Synopsis

Week 4

Feb 4 T

Feb 6

Feb 7: Last day for proposal submission (

The beginnings of things

den Heyer: ch. 6

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

John & Jesus (all week):

Mk 1.1–15
Mt 1.1; 3.1–6, 11–4.17
Lk 1.1–4; 3.1–6, 15–18, 21–22; 4.1–15
Jn 1.1–34; 4.1–3, 43–46a
Phraseology: KoG & KoH


den Heyer: ch. 7

•video: “From Jesus to Christ," pt. 1: Jesus and his world

>Schweitzer: chs. 5–6

Week 5

Feb 11 T

Feb 13

Feb 14: last day for paper proposal submission (

den Heyer: ch. 8

same NT texts as in week 4

James M. Robinson: "The Real Jesus of the Sayings Gospel Q" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 18 (1997): 135–51new

Jesus in the Synoptics & Jn

•video: “From Jesus to Christ," pt. 2: The Jesus movement


den Heyer: ch. 9

James M. Robinson: "The Real Jesus of the Sayings Gospel Q" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 18 (1997): 135–51new

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

•video: “From Jesus to Christ," pt. 3: Jesus in the Gospels

>Schweitzer: chs. 7–8

Week 6

Feb 18 T

Feb 20

den Heyer: ch. 10

James M. Robinson: "The Real Jesus of the Sayings Gospel Q" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 18 (1997): 135–51new

Feeding 5K folks texts from week 5 (all week)

•video: “From Jesus to Christ," pt. 4: The cross: from shame to triumph


den Heyer: ch. 11

•video: "Who Is This Jesus?"

>Schweitzer: chs. 9–10

Week 7

Feb 25 T

Feb 27

How many sermons did Jesus preach, and where?

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

den Heyer: ch. 12 (discussion: Brown)

Sermon on the mount / plain:

Mt 5–7

Lk 6.20–49, esp. 24–26 (cf. Mk 3.7–13a; 9.49–50; 4.21; 9.43–48; 11.25[–26]; 4.24–25; 1.21–22)

Mk & Jn?

Sermon on the Mount


den Heyer: ch. 13 (discussion: Busco)

The Beatitudes:

Mt 4.24-5.12 & Lk 6.17–26 (also Mk 3.7–13a)

Mt 6.5–15 & Lk 11.1–4 (also Mk 11.25[–26])

>Schweitzer: chs. 11–12

Week 8

Mar 4 T

Mar 6

Mar 10–16


Q and Thomas

Library & Web search on Jesus & the Jesus Seminarnew

Crossan: v, ix–xiv, ch. 1 (discussion: Clark-Williams)

James M. Robinson: "The Real Jesus of the Sayings Gospel Q" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 18 (1997): 135–51new

James Charlesworth: "The Historical Jesus and Exegetical Theology" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 22 (2001): 45–63

Beatitudes texts as in week 7 (all week)

Mt 13.1–52; 18.1–35 & ||s


Mar 6: midterm exam

Crossan: ch. 2

Leander Keck: "The Task of New Testament Christology" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 26 (2005): 266–76new

Gos Thom (Patterson & Robinson translation)

>Schweitzer: chs. 13–14

>*Brown: Intro to NT, 817–30 (“The Historical Jesus”); 105–7 ("Portraits of Jesus")

Week 9


Mar 18 T

Mar 20

Which prayer should Christians pray?

Crossan: ch. 3 (discussion: Gallo)

+Tatum: ch. 9 (on eschatology)

Lord’s Prayer:

Mt 6.5–15

Lk 11.1–4

James Charlesworth: "The Historical Jesus and Exegetical Theology" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 22 (2001): 45–63new

Leander Keck: "The Task of New Testament Christology" in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 26 (2005): 266–76new


Eschatology: the end of things

Crossan: ch. 4 (discussion: Kourakos—Crossan or Bultmann)

Bultmann: Preface; ch. 1

The end:

Mk 13

Mt 24–25

Lk 21.5–36

>Schweitzer: chs. 15–16

>+Brown: Intro to NT, 817–30 (“The Historical Jesus”); 105–7 ("Portraits of Jesus")

Week 10


Mar 25 T

Mar 27

More about the end

Crossan: ch. 5 (discussion: Mikoski—Crossan or Bultmann)

Bultmann: ch. 2

The end:

Mk 13

Mt 24–25

Lk 21.5–36

1Cor 15.12–58

1Th 4.13–5.11


Torah & ethics

Crossan: ch. 6 (discussion: Nicholson—Crossan or Bultmann)

Bultmann: ch. 3

Walk this way:

Mk 12.28–34

Mt 5.17–48; 7.21–29

Lk 10.25–37

Jn 13.31–35; 15.12

>Schweitzer: chs. 17–18

>Movie: "The Body" (in AV library)

Week 11


Apr 1 T

Apr 3

Arrest, trial, crucifixion: whose idea?

Crossan: ch. 7, Epilogue (discussion: Powell—Crossan or Bultmann)

Bultmann: ch. 4

Passion (all week):

Mk 11–15

parallels in Mt & Lk


Bultmann: ch. 5 (discussion: Schauf)

Schweitzer: ch. 19 (through next week)

>Movie: "The Body" (in AV library)

Week 12


Apr 8 T

Apr 10

Jesus Seminar; Jesus in our image?

Johnson: all introductory sections, ch. 1 (discussion: Stahon)
•+Paul Meyer: “Faith and History” in Princeton Seminary Bulletin 10 (1989): 75–83

Passion (all week):

Mk 11–15

parallels in Mt & Lk


Johnson: ch. 2 (discussion: Suchcicki)

Library & Web search on Jesus & the Jesus Seminar

Schweitzer: ch. 19 (through next week)

Week 13


Apr 15 T


Apr 17–21



Apr 24

Recreating Jesus: Jesus in school, church, & the media

Johnson: chs. 3–5 (discussion: Walter—Johnson)


Mk 11–15

parallels in Mt & Lk


Jesus and history: the limitations of historical knowledge

Schweitzer: ch. 20 (discussion: Walter—Schweitzer)new

Resurretion (also next week):new

1 Cor 15; Gal 1.13–17; Acts 2.14–47

Mk 16 & parallels in Mt & Lk

Week 14


Apr 29 T

May 1

Sunday, April 27: movie night with the Nas 7:49 PM-ish
Feel free to bring DVDs of movies you think your classmates should see. For directions click here.

Apr 25: paper due (

Jesus and faith: resurrection revisited

Johnson: ch. 6; Epilogue

•+Borg, Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship: ch. 9 ("Does the Historical Jesus Matter?")

•+Brown, Intro to NT Christology: appendix 2 (“The Reality of the Resurrection of Jesus”)


So what?

Faith, history, and text: Can we ever find the real Jesus?

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

May 7 W

Reading Day (Review session for final exam?)

May 8 R

F  i  n  a  l     e  x  a  m: 11:30–2:00 (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)