This is an introductory course on the New Testament (NT) Gospels and Acts for first year students at the Global Classroom. This course explores the interpretation, context, and content of the Gospels and Acts – the key contexts, political, historical and religious, within which the lives of Jesus and the early churches functioned. It also surveys the nature of the New Testament as Scripture and to fundamental hermeneutical issues, with a focus on historical criticism as a basis for theological interpretation. The course surveys scholarly study of Jesus and highlights key issues, and then look at the major points of his teaching and his aims. It outlines methods of study used in approaching the Gospels, including the question of the kind of literature that they are, their origins and how to interpret the Gospels today followed by a survey of all the Gospels. The Book of Acts, the continuation of the story into the life of the earliest Christians, again considering its contents, organization, major themes and emphases, as well as discussing modern debates about Acts, including its authorship and date will also be studying.
At the end of the course, students will be able to gain:
- Acquire comprehensive knowledge of the basic content and structure of a selected Gospel and Book of Acts
- Demonstrate familiarity with the Second Temple context of the Gospels and Acts of Christianity Understand historical and cultural context out of which, and into which, each of these documents was written.
- Interpretation: Gain competence in applying historical-critical methods to Gospel texts, including the comparison and contrasting of the Gospels with one another; this facility is to be demonstrated by exegetical exercises.
- Engage in theological reflection on a theme from a Gospel or Acts and its relevance for a life of discipleship.
- Apply the selected Gospels & Acts vision of Jesus, discipleship, and mission to the life of the church today
- continually growing in Christ-likeness and bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, having been transformed by the gospel, and living by grace, applying the gospel to all of life.
- A. Carson & D. J. Moo, An Introduction to New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005
- Mark L. Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus : An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2009
- Marcus J. Borg, N Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, Harper & Collins, 2000.
- J. D. G. Dunn The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016
SUPPLEMENTARY / RECOMMENDED READING AND TOOLS (Bibliography)
Further reading lists at the end of most of the day topics or section provide a basis for further study in greater depth on particular issues within each section of the book, and you can access to books which are generally available in Perlego.
The amount of modern literature on the Gospels and Acts is enormous. This applies especially to commentaries, where there is no way that we can list all the useful works on any of the NT books.
ABD, D. N. Freedman, ed. Anchor Bible Dictionary (6 vols). New York: Doubleday, 1992
DJG2 J. B. Green, J. K. Brown andvN. Perrin, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, revised ed. Nottingham/ Downers Grove: IVP, 2012.
DLNTD R. P. Martin and P. H. Davids, eds., Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments. Leicester/ Downers Grove: IVP, 1997.
DNTB C. A. Evans and S. E. Porter, eds., Dictionary of New Testament Background. Leicester/Downers Grove: IVP, 2000
NDBT T. D. Alexander and B. S. Rosner, eds., New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Leicester/Downers Grove: IVP, 2000.
A number of standard reference books can be recommended for following up most of the topics covered in this course. As a first step students are encouraged to look up the relevant articles on the NT documents in dictionaries such as ABD, DJG2 and DLNTD (see Abbreviations above). On certain topics, DNTB and NDBT will be useful.
The above mentioned works that are very helpful for your ongoing studies and research. You will notice in the following section that, there are commentaries often referred as ‘exegetical’ (and ‘exegesis’) – referring to understand what the text would have meant to its original readers; ‘expository’ and ‘exposition’ refer to trying to explain the significance that the text might have for readers today.
MULTI VOLUME COMMENTARIES
AB or Anchor Bible Ongoing series of full commentaries using Greek in transliteration, generally providing detailed notes followed by explanatory discussion of each passage. Earlier volumes in the series were of unequal quality; more recent ones are very good but some tend to excessive length.
ANTC Abingdon NT Commentary Intended to provide ‘compact critical commentaries’ catering to the needs of students and preachers.
BECNT Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT Detailed commentaries working with the Greek, but generally accessible for those who do not have Greek.
BST The Bible Speaks Today Expository commentaries with varying amounts of detail; useful for preachers.
EBC The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Multi-volume series on the whole Bible originally published some thirty years ago now appearing in a thoroughly revised new edition with many fresh treatments.
ECC Eerdmans Critical Commentary New series offering detailed exegesis based on the Greek text.
Herm Hermeneia Detailed technical commentaries on the Greek text.
ICC International Critical Commentary Full-scale treatments of the Greek text. Older, nineteenth- and twentieth-century volumes are now being replaced by fresh volumes.
Int Interpretation Middle-length commentaries specifically designed to be helpful to preachers.
IVPNTC InterVarsity Press New Testament Commentaries Similar to BST in bringing out the contemporary relevance of the text, but with a greater emphasis on the basic exegesis.
NAC New American Commentary Multi-volume series, aiming to be exegetical and expository; largely from a conservative and Baptist background.
NIGTC New International Greek Testament Commentary Detailed commentaries on the Greek text; less technical than ICC.
NIVAC NIV Application Commentary Offering a combination of exegesis and application linked together by a ‘bridge’ between then and now.
TNTC Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Introductory-level commentaries providing the essential exegetical help.
WBC Word Biblical Commentary Detailed commentaries using Greek quite widely; less technical than ICC.
One Volume Bible Commentaries
Several one-volume commentaries cover the whole Bible or the NT:
- Barton and J. Muddiman, eds. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
- J. D. G. Dunn and J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. (This and the previous title are two very similar works that attempt to express the state of biblical scholarship since 2000).
- K. Beale and D. A. Carson, eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic/ Nottingham: Apollos, 2007. (Very detailed, at times technical, treatment of the quotations from, allusions to and echoes of the OT in the NT.)
- A. Carson et al., eds. The New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition. Leicester/ Downers Grove: IVP, 1994. (Introductory level with more emphasis on explanation of the text than the Eerdmans and Oxford counterparts; unlike them does not include Apocrypha.)
Brian C. Wintle, et.al eds. South Asia Bible Commentary, Open Door Publications Pvt. Ltd. Udaipur India, 2015. (A contextual commentary written by South Asians scholars)
There is a mass of valuable web material that can easily be accessed for this course. In our bibliographies there will be reference to some of the resources available. One of the most useful sites is Dr Mark Goodacre’s New Testament Gateway- http://www.ntgateway.com.
In addition, the Tyndale House library catalogue <http://www.tyncat.com> provides links to published books which are available online – many of the books in our bibliographies can be accessed this way.
GUIDELINES FOR INTERACTIONS
We anticipate our students to have varied viewpoints which will enrich the discussions in our learning community. Therefore, we ask our students to be charitable and respectful in their interactions with each other, and to remain focused on the topic of discussion, out of respect to others who have committed to being a part of this learning community.
ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING
- Discussion Forum
- Weekly Discussions and Written Responses: 200 Words each (Total 42% weightage).
Late responses are not accepted. Each week’s initial response is due on Wednesday(11:59pm) and interactions with other responses are due on Saturday (11:59pm).
Attendance in this course is demonstrated by regular log-ins and up-to-date participation in forums.
Every Monday a weekly discussion question will become visible. Each student will read through the question and take time to formulate a response.
Aim for responses that display a thorough understanding of the textbooks and primary sources relevant to each question and a clear engagement with the class discussions and lectures, especially identifying areas of your understanding of each week’s themes that have challenged, changed, and/or enriched you. This is not a summary of the readings and the lectures, but a response to particular themes/arguments. Be specific and brief, but not superficial.
The initial response should be 200 words. Each student should respond (150 words) to the submitted response of other students posted on the Discussion board, though there is no set limit on words for the subsequent interactions between students. In order to maximize the benefit of this element of the course, the student should post his/her initial response by 11:59 pm on Wednesday of the week and then spend the remainder of that week interacting with their colleagues in the class until Saturday at 11:59pm.
Each weekly questions and themes will be discussed on following week during optional class meetings
- Quiz (weekly or daily quiz) 18%weightage:
A self-assessment quiz that consists of multiple-choice, true/false questions, short answer, text with feedback. Note that quizzes are used for self-assessment and not formal exams – so formative. These quizzes are based on video lectures, reading assignments, multimedia content etc.
- Critical Book Review (Secondary Source):300 words 15%
Write a critical book review of Marcus J. Borg, N Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, Harper & Collins, 2000) The review needs to concentrate more on the ideas than on the details. Talk about (1) the author’s overall theme and thesis of the book, (2) the author’s purpose and/or agenda of the book, (3) the book’s structure and/or order of the materials and its relation to the purpose of the book, (4) the book’s strengths and shortcomings, and (5) the book’s contributions and implications. To address these areas, you will need to include some content, but try to focus on the main issues that he raises and deals with. You can find this book here.
- Essay/Research Paper: 1000 – 1200 Words, 25%
This paper should be approximately 8-10 pages. Write an essay/ research paper that directly engages with one of the issues, themes, events, or people encountered in the course using secondary sources. In other words, research is required for this paper. The paper must be transparent, meaning that you will clearly state what your primary and secondary sources are, and how you have gone about turning them into “data” for your argument.
You need to demonstrate familiarity with the specifics and details of the issues, themes, events, or people you selected, as well as demonstrate your ability to place your topic within the larger context of Christian history. The paper should not simply report, summarize, or review materials, but demonstrate thoughtful analysis and reflection and embody an argument (thesis), which will be a summary of the paper’s argument, early in the introduction. The body of the paper will support your thesis. Show how your argument is drawn from the primary and secondary sources you used by carefully documenting it.
SUMMARY OF ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING
In order to clear the course, along with mandatory weekly participation in the Discussion Forum and live sessions, a student has to score a minimum passing grade in Formative and Summative Assessments separately. Passing Grade will be 40 % in the Assessment – Formative or Summative.
Evaluation is based upon the completion of the following assignments:
Weekly Discussions and Responses
Critical Analysis paper, Short Essay or Quiz
Critical Book Review
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR THE SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN WORK
Submission Method and Late Submission
Submission: Papers to be submitted electronically in .doc or .docx format via Global Classroom – Assignment Upload
Late Submission Penalties:
- Weekly Responses and Primary Source Analysis Paper will NOT be accepted as late.
- Late submission of all other assignments, with a genuine reason, will be penalized 1% (1 point) per day. Student needs to get prior written permission of the instructor, copying the same to the Registrar. A maximum of three days would be permitted by the instructor, for late submission.
In all assigned work, proper style guidelines must be used and followed exactly; failure to do so will render the submitted assignment unacceptable.
For proper citation style, consult the FBC Style Guide or the full edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers: Seventh Edition, especially chapters 5 and 7 for arrangement of entries through in-text citations and Works Cited.
Integrity in academic work is required of all our students. Academic dishonesty is any breach of this integrity, and includes such practices as cheating (the use of unauthorized material on tests and examinations), submitting the same work for different classes without permission of the instructors; using false information (including false references to secondary sources) in an assignment; improper or unacknowledged collaboration with other students, and plagiarism.
Global Classroom takes seriously its responsibility to uphold academic integrity, and to penalize academic dishonesty.
COURSE EVALUATION (Feedback)
Global Classroom values quality in the courses it offers its students. End-of-course evaluations provide valuable student feedback and are one of the ways that Global Classroom works towards maintaining and improving the quality of courses and the student’s learning experience. Student involvement in this process is critical to enhance the general quality of teaching and learning.
Before the end of the course, students will receive an email with a link to the online course evaluation. The link can also be found in the left column on the course page. The evaluation period is 2 weeks; after the evaluation period has ended, it cannot be reopened.
Course Evaluation results will not be disclosed to the instructor before final grades in the course have been submitted and processed. Student names will be kept confidential and the instructor will only see the aggregated results of the class.