new schedule section tweaked  (posted 29 Jan 2013)


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.newnewnewnewnew

(Alfred Brendel)

Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.

(G. K. Chesterton)

In much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase in sorrow.

(Ecclesiastes 1.18)

 

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

(Anonymous)

 

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)


Schedule
 
Evaluation
 
Exegesis Guidelines
 
Resources
 
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Westminster College

Westminster homepage

 REL 207: The Synoptic Gospels

Spring Semester • 2013

 

 Welcome!

Welcome to Religion 207: The Synoptic Gospels. This course is a general introduction to and an exploration of the Gospels According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, i.e., the Synoptic Gospels. More specifically, our aim will be:


to read carefully and critically various passages in the Synoptic Gospels

to explore the meaning(s) of various synoptic pericopes by setting them in their historical context (e.g., cultural, geographical, literary, political contexts) as well as in relation to our context
to discern major themes and issues in the Synoptics and to consider their significance for the history of western civilization and for us
to become familiar with the methodological issues involved in the Synoptic Problem
to note significant synoptic features that contrast with those in the Gospel According to John
to cultivate a reading of the Synoptic Gospels that is both critical and creative by developing exegetical skills using modern methods of interpretation

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; craigfa@westminster.edu.

 Caveat

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 Synoptic Gospels 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 Synoptic Gospels, to learn to appreciate them better, and to become informed and responsible interpreters of them.

 Requirements and evaluation for the course

Evaluation

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

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

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

Assigned

readings

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 you have about the readings (see Participation). The primary focus throughout the course will be on the biblical texts and on cultivating the ability to ask informed questions about them based on the knowledge you gain along the way.


NB: Not all the assigned readings may be covered in class discussions or exams, but they are required for your edification. The more you refer to them in class and in your work—indicating engagement with or mastery of the readings—the better your semester evaluation will tend to be.


For the pericopes assigned, do the following in order:

try to understand each of the passages in its particular Gospel context (see Exegesis guidelines for some tips)

compare with parallel texts in the Gospel Parallels to note similarities and differences among the Gospels
look at some critical commentaries in our library  (i.e., scholarly books on Matthew, Mark, or Luke with lots of [foot]notes) to see what some scholars have noted about the assigned pericopes
bring your ideas and discoveries to contribute during class discussion

Map paper

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.
Write a paper (2–3 pages) about one of the places (area or city). 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

NB: Do not just report where or how many times in the NT the place is mentioned. Do not write mere summaries or paraphrases of biblical narratives.

Follow all the instructions given on my Evaluation page under Written assignments. Use endnotes or footnotes to document your sources following the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian). Learn the automatic (foot)note function of your word processor.
The Oxford Bible Atlas and the maps at the end of NOAB (see "Recommended books" below) are good places to start. For a little extra help click here.
As soon as you submit your paper, make an appointment to review your graded paper with me.


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

Exegesis

paper

You will submit an exegesis paper at Turnitin.com on a particular 1) theme or controversy, 2) doctrine, or 3) theologian that interests you. Browse through the table of contents in McGrath's Christianity: An Introduction for ideas or come up with your own topic for research. Consult the instructor as you pursue your interest and as you research (the earlier you do so, the earlier you'll know how feasible your research paper will be). Try to narrow your interest as you do your research and write (e.g., as you develop your bibliography and work on your paper). Whatever your topic and thesis, make sure that connections with course materials are evident in your final work. You may also find the Tips for writing papers helpful. 


on a synoptic text of your choice (see the "Index of the Gospel Parallels" at the beginning of Gospel Parallels). In choosing a text, you may find it helpful to consult critical commentaries and academic journals, i.e., scholarly books and articles with lots of (foot)notes. For help with exegesis, see the 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 choice of text and (2) your preliminary bibliography (bring a hard copy). The narrower and more specific your thesis—the argument you plan to make in your paper—the better.


You will write a 3–4 page paper on a particular 1) theme or controversy, 2) doctrine or 3) theologian that interests you. Browse through the table of contents in McGrath's Christian Theology and his Christian Theology Reader for ideas or come up with your own topic for research. Consult the instructor as you pursue your interest and as you research (the earlier you do so, the earlier you'll know how feasible your research paper will be). Try to narrow your interest as you do your research and write (e.g., as you develop your bibliography and work on your paper). Whatever your topic and thesis, make sure that connections with course materials are evident in your final work. newYou may find the Tips for writing papers helpful.new



The paper should be 3–4 pages long.
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.

 

NB: 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. NB: 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 (or Turabian)for help: NoodleTools. Learn the automatic footnote function of your word processor.

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

Terms

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 and, when appropriate, significant biblical passages related to the terms. 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.

Quizzes

&

exams

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, which will be an oral 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.

Grades

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

30%

NB: participation is a significant part of this course.

See my Evaluation page under Participation

for more information and instructions.

final examination

20%

map paper

20%

midterm exam

15%

participation (including pop quizzes)

15%

 

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

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

Extra credit

You may earn extra credit any time during the semester.

Submit a 2–3 page reflection paper relating something from popular culture (e.g., movie, play, TV show, book, any performance) to a particular synoptic text or theme (consult the instructor). The paper should be mostly critique and not a mere plot summary.

  Do other extra credit assignments described in the file on the R-drive.
NB: 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.

Goodacre, Mark. The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze. London: T. & T. Clark, 2001. [out of print but available in various electronic formats at archive.org (e.g., searchable online facsimile , searchable PDF file, Kindle file)]

Throckmorton, Burton H. Jr. Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1992.

 Recommended books (* = highly recommended)

* 

The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (NRSV), 3rd ed. (NB: table of contents, introductions, essays, tables, glossary, maps—all are very helpful) 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. 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 is especially recommended for comparison of Old Testament passages.

* Achtemeier, Paul. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.
  Black, David Alan and David R. Beck, eds. Rethinking the Synoptic Problem. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.
* 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.
* 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, & Web resources, esp. The NT Gateway.

  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 informed and in touch

During the semester check your e-mail regularly for messages regarding course matters (e.g., changes in the syllabus). Visit and reload 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’m 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 complete the requirements for the course. To help you do that as well as you can, 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 207: The Synoptic Gospels.

 C o u r s e   S c h e d u l e            REL 207

TR 11001230          PH 106 


Date


Assigned readings

= required

> = recommended

+ = read in the library (do not check out)

 


Project / texts

bold = primary text(s) for class discussion

red bold= dates to remember

highlight = R-drive file

 


Class / topics


Week 1

 

Jan 15 T

Jan 17

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

Fisher: Effective Learning

Parallels: v–xl

Brown: Prolegomena; ch. 1

Goodacre: Preface

Nicene Creed & Apostles' Creed

Gos Thom

Sec Gos Mk

Gos Pet

Inf Gos Thom

Prot Jas

Keep (& update) copies of all relevant Web pages

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

Compare first chapters of the four Gospels

Color coding the Parallels

Translation comparison

The Greeks (interactive site)


Recommended resources

Optical conditioning

Optical Illusions

Xmas Quiz

Greek NT: 1st page

•Why Synoptics?

General orientation

World-view (ppt link)



Context & perspective

What do you see?
Color coding the Parallels
Jan ??

Movie night at the Nas' 7:46 PM-ish

Feel free to bring DVDs or VHSs of movies you think your classmates should see.

For directions click here.

Week 2

 

Jan 24 R

Jan 29

Gospel According to Matthew (if possible read at one sitting; read any recent NT intro material on Matt)
Parallels: A; E–I

Goodacre: ch. 1

Brown: Rule of Thumb 1–10

Phraseology: KoG & KoH

Parallels: A (use colors to learn)

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

Transmission errors


>Recommended resources

Matthew matters

anachronism

Week 3

 

Jan 31 R

Feb 5

Gospel According to Mark (if possible read at one sitting; read any recent NT intro material on Mk)

Parallels: B–D; J–L

Goodacre: ch. 2

Brown: Rule of Thumb 11–19

Parallels: B–D; J (use colors to learn)


>Recommended resources

Mark matters

Week 4

 

Feb 7 R

Feb 12

Gospel According to Luke (if possible read at one sitting; read any recent NT intro material on Lk)

Parallels: 1–8

Goodacre: ch. 3

Brown: Rule of Thumb 20–24

Luke: pairs

Parallels: 6 (use colors to learn)

Cotton Patch: Lk 10.25–37

Cotton Patch: Lk 15


>
Recommended resources

Luke matters

Week 5

 

Feb 14 R

Feb 19

Parallels: 1–8

Goodacre: ch. 4

Brown: Rule of Thumb 25–28; ch. 5

Parallels: 7; 8 (use colors to learn)

>Recommended resources

Preparation

Week 6

 

Feb 21 R

Feb 26

Parallels: 9–17

Goodacre: ch. 5

Parallels: 10 (use colors to learn)


>Recommended resources

Galilee

Week 7

 

Feb 28 R


Mar 4–10 (break)


Mar 12

Parallels: 18–44
Goodacre: chs. 6–7


Feb 28: Last day for the map paper (Turnitin.com)

Parallels: 19; 30; 43 (use colors to learn)

>Recommended resources

Sermon on the Mount



Week 8

 

Mar 14 R

Mar 19

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

Parallels: 72; 73–78

Parallels: 72; 74; 75 (use colors to learn)


>Recommended resources

Mar 14: midterm exam

Sermon on the Plain

Week 9

 

Mar 21 R

Mar 26


Mar 29–

Apr 1 (break)


Parallels: 89–117

Parallels: 89; 91; 105; 107; 112 (use colors to learn)


>Recommended resources

Parables

Week 10

 

Apr 2 T

Apr 4

Parallels: 118–36

Nicene Creed & Apostles' Creed

Gos Thom (also Gos Thom)

Sec Gos Mk (also Sec Gos Mk)
Gos Pet
Inf Gos Thom
Prot Jas

Charlesworth: "The Historical Jesus and Exegetical Theology" (Princeton Seminary Bulletin 33 [2001]: 45–63)

Parallels: 118; 122; 124 (use colors to learn)


>Recommended resources

On the way

Historical Jesus?

Week 11

 

Apr 9 T

Apr 11

Parallels: 137–86

Parallels: 143–44; 170; 172–73 (use colors to learn)


>Recommended resources

Special Luke

Week 12

 

Apr 16 T

Apr 18

Parallels: 187–230

Parallels: 190; 196; 221; 229 (use colors to learn)


>Recommended resources

On the way to Jerusalem


Week 13

 

Apr 23 T

Apr 25

Parallels: 231–53 passion

Parallels: 236; 250; 253 (use colors to learn)


>Recommended resources

Apr 25: no class (review course materials; work on exegesis paper)

•Passion


Week 14

 

Apr 30 T

May 2

Gabler: "On the Proper Distinction between Biblical and Dogmatic Theology and the Specific Objectives of Each" (Scottish Journal of Theology 33 [1980]: 133–58)

Meyer: "Faith and History Revisited" (Princeton Seminary Bulletin 10

May 3: Last day for exegesis papers (Turnitin.com)

May 10: Last day for extra credit papers (Turnitin.com)

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

Bring some synoptic examples that illustrate the issues discussed by Gabler & Meyer


>Recommended resources

Biblical theology & dogmatic theology

•Canon

Faith, history & text

•Final thoughts

Final week

May 9 R

F  i  n  a  l     e  x  a  m: 3:00–5:30 (regular classroom)

Have a great summer!


Schedule
 
Evaluation
 
Exegesis Guidelines
 
Resources
 
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