new week 3 on (posted 25 Jan. 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)

ΓΝĹΘΙ ΣΕΑΥΤΟΝ. (= Γνῶθι σεαυτόν.; Temple of Apollo at Delphi)


exegesis guidelines


Na home

Westminster College

REL 209: Paul and His Letters

Spring 2015

Welcome to Religion 209: Paul and His Letters (or "Everything you always wanted to know about Paul, but were too afraid or busy to ask"). This course is a general introduction to and an exploration of the portions of the New Testament attributed to Paul. By the end of this semester, you will be able to:

•   discuss general contents of Pauline letters, including major themes and issues

•   discuss the significance of Pauline letters for understanding Western culture, the world, and ourselves

•   read carefully and critically passages from a variety of Pauline texts as well as from other biblical books and extra-canonical sources

•   discuss the meaning(s) of Pauline 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 Pauline interpretation

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

•   demonstrate an appreciation of Paul's letters 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 Paul's letters can lead to a deeper appreciation of Judaism and 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 Paul's letters, to learn to appreciate them better, and to become informed and responsible interpreters of them.

 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. The primary focus throughout the course will be on the Pauline texts. 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. Keeping notes on the readings is highly recommended. I would encourage you to use this form for every reading assignment (also on my.westminster).

N.B.: Not all the assigned readings may be covered in class discussions or exams, but they are assigned for your edification toward achieving the goals of the course. The more you refer to them in class and in your work, the better your mastery of the readings will be. 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 ideas or arguments of the reading assignments (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, and 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 or any AV equipment, 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.

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
    • The map should include at least the following: Alexandria, Antioch, Athens, Jerusalem, Rome, all the places where the undisputed letters were sent

  • 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 Paul's letters, or for both
    • Do not report merely where or how many times in the New Testament or Paul's letters 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 separately.

  • 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.


Throughout the semester, you will be responsible for learning significant terms covered in our texts or in class. You will be responsible for finding the definitions, e.g., using course texts (glossary, index) and resources listed in "Resources to consider" below. The terms may constitute a part of any quiz or exam.




The midterm exam will cover all the materials in the course we will have covered by the time of the exam (e.g., the reading assignments and terms). 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 do one of the following.

1) Take a 30-minute oral exam. You must meet with me before April 15 to discuss this option.

2) Write an exegesis paper (1,000–1,500 words) on 1 Corinthians 15 (focusing on a portion thereof) that demonstrates your knowledge of Paul and his letters. You must see me as early as possible before the semester break to discuss this option. See my Exegesis guidelines page for some starter questions and other tips to consider. For ideas, look at some critical commentaries in our library, i.e., scholarly books on Matthew with lots of (foot)notes.

Note for Spring 2015: The final exam may be a 20-minute oral final. TBD in class.


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

• final exam or exegesis paper


Participation is a significant part of this course.

See my Evaluation page under Participation

for more information and instructions.

• midterm exam


• map paper


• 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 Pauline 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

A Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (NOAB) using the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) will be the common text for class assignments and discussions. N.B.: the table of contents, introductions, essays, tables, glossary, maps, etc. are all very helpful. In all cases, you are encouraged to use (1) other English translations besides the NRSV, e.g., NIV, and (2) Bibles in other languages.

Keck, Leander L. Paul and His Letters. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988.

Roetzel, Calvin. The Letters of Paul. 5th ed. Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.


Recommended books (* = highly recommended)

Tanakh. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1985 (5748). [especially recommended for comparison of Old Testament passages]

* Achtemeier, Paul. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1999.

Beker, J. Christiaan. Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980.

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

* 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.

Duling, Dennis C. and Norman Perrin. The New Testament: Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History. 3rd ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1994.

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.

* Käsemann, Ernst. Perspectives on Paul. Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1971.

Meeks, Wayne, ed. The Writings of St. Paul. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1999.

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

* 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 helpful 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 101: Understanding the Bible.

Course schedule MWF 0920–1020     PH 108

REL 209

= 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 T

Jan 15

General orientation: Who was Paul? Trying to understand Paul

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

Westminster College Mission Statement

Fisher: Effective Learning (pp. 3 & 6; also in Inquiry text)

2Pet 3.15–16

Roetzel: prefaces & Introduction

Keck: Preface & Introduction

Translation comparison

Remember: bring your written 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.

>NOAB: introductory notes

>Brooks & Collins: “Introduction” to Hebrew Bible or Old Testament

>Christmas Quiz

>Easter Quiz (NB: take this "quiz" before reading the following)

>1Cor 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")

>Study Guide 1 (These may be helpful, but they may not always correspond to the readings.)

World-view (ppt link)

Optical conditioning

Optical illusion

World-view (context & perspective)

Number chaos-order

Context & perspective

What do you see?

Xmas Quiz

Greek NT: 1st page

Transmission errors



Week 2


Jan 20 T

Jan 22

Roetzel: chs. 1–2 (chart from 4th edition)

1Thess 1.1–10

1Cor 1.1–9

2Cor 1.1–7

Gal 1.1–5

Phil 1.1–11

Rom 1.1–17

Phlm 1–7

>The Greeks (interactive site): read about Socrates, Plato, etc.
>Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts (very helpful)

>Redaction & hermeneutics (funny, interesting & instructive)

>Study Guide 2
>Study Guide 3

TBD: movie night with the Nas 7:47 PM-ish
Feel free to bring DVDs of movies you think your classmates should see. For directions click here.

Week 3


Jan 27 T

Jan 29

Discussion: Stahon/Suchcicki (Roetzel ch. 3); Cooper/Halpin (Roetzel ch. 4)

Roetzel: chs. 3–4

Isa 49.1–6
Jer 1.1–10
Rom 1.3-5; 3.25; 4.25; 10.9
1Cor 11.23–25; 15.3–7
Phil 2.6–11

>NOAB: 453–525ES (after the NT); skim carefullynew

>Chalcedonian definition
>Chalcedonian definition (excerpts)
>Chronology (info & links)
>Redaction & hermeneutics (funny, interesting & instructive)

>Study Guide 4
>Study Guide 5

Week 4


Feb 3 T

Feb 5

Discussion: Hostetler/Rosile (Roetzel ch. 5); Perez-Diaz/Steinitz (Roetzel ch. 6)

Roetzel: ch. 5
Phil 2.6–11
Rom 8.38; 1Cor 15.24
Eph 1.20–23 (cf. 1Cor 15.25–28; Ps 8.6; 110.1); 3.10; 6.10–17
Col 1.16; 2.10, 15
1Pet 3.22
+++++++   +++++++   +++++++
Roetzel: ch. 6

2Pet 3.15–16

>Chalcedonian definition
>Chalcedonian definition (excerpts)

>Study Guide 6
>Study Guide 7

Week 5


Feb 10 T

Feb 12

Discussion: Stahon/Suchcicki (Roetzel ch. 7); Cooper/Halpin (Keck ch. 1)

Roetzel: ch. 7

•Rom 13 (cf. 1 Pet)

•Rom 13.1–7 (cf. 1 Pet): what about the empire? (cf. Rev's point of view on the empire & how believers ought to relate to it)

Keck: ch. 1

•Rom (esp. Rom 1–4)
•Rom 2.13; 3.20, 28; 10

 •Rom 4 (cf. Gal 3): pistis & nomos

•2Cor 5.10
•Jas 2
•Mt 7.12–29
•Ernst Käsemann, "The Faith of Abraham in Romans 4" in Perspectives on Paul, 79–101
•Keck 50–54 (review; esp. 52), 66–67
•Heikki Räisänen, "Paul's Conversion and the Development of His View of the Law," New Testament Studies 33 (1987) 404–19


>Roetzel: ch. 4

>Study Guide 8

>Study Guide 9

Week 6


Feb 17 T

Feb 19

Discussion: Hostetler/Rosile; Perez-Diaz/Steinitz

 •Keck: ch. 2


•1Cor 11.17–34

•Gal 3.25–29

 •Rom 6.1–7.6: baptism
•1Cor 11.17–34: Lord's Supper

Keck: ch. 3


Rom 9.1–29: providence & grace

•Rom 8.28–30; 9.1–29
•1Cor 4.6–7
•2Cor 3.4–6
•Eph 1.2–23
•Isa 29.16; 45.9; 64.8
•Jer 18.1–11


>Roetzel: ch. 4

>Study Guide 10

>Study Guide 11

Week 7

Feb 24 T

Feb 26

Week 8

Mar 3 T

Mar 5

Mar 7–15


Week 9

Mar 17 T

Mar 19

Week 10

Mar 24 T

Mar 26

Week 11

Mar 31 T

Apr 2–6


Apr 9

Week 12

Apr 14 T

Apr 16

•Apr 10: map paper

Week 13

Apr 21 T

Apr 23

Week 14

Apr 28 T

Apr 30

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

May 4 M

F  i  n  a  l     e  x  a  m: 1500–1730 (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)

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