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New Testament

Course Level: Basic

Course Summary

Please Note: This course is the third of basic level introductory courses to Scripture. We recommend the courses be taken in sequence especially if a student has had limited previous studies in scripture. The sequencing enables the student to cultivate a strong biblical foundation for understanding and applying the Scriptures in their lives. The sequence is: (1) Introduction to the Scriptures, (2) Old Testament and (3) New Testament.This course attempts to explore the stories in and behind the writings we call the New Testament. The course is a general overview introducing the student to the cultural context, composition, themes and pastoral application of the New Testament accounts for growing in Biblical knowledge. As in the Old Testament, we will study the texts from the threefold perspective of the World within the Text: Literature, The World behind the Text: History, and the World in Front of the Text: Our Culture. Through the study of Biblical maps, articles and religious art present on authoritative websites, our text and class discussions students can grow in New Testament knowledge, understanding and application to their life and ministry.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • To become familiar with and competent in reading the New Testament from the threefold perspective: the World Within the Text: Literature; the World Behind the Text: History; and, the World in Front of the Text: Our Culture
  • To identify the contents of the New Testament, and its three sections
  • To explain highlights from Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) for a deeper understanding of the New Testament and its application to our lives.
  • To outline the three stages of Gospel development
  • To identify the audience, purpose and vision of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John
  • To be able to define the synoptic problem and describe the two-source hypothesis
  • To define the meaning, structure and role of parables
  • To understand the meaning of "low and high Christology" and eschatology
  • To identify the letters written by Paul and be conversant about several of Paul's major theological themes
  • To identify the so called “Catholic Letters” and their message
  • To describe the historical context of late first-century Christianity, including the persecution and ostracization that was suffered
  • To be able to explain the purpose, structure and symbols in the Book of Revelation

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Carmody, Timothy R. Reading the Bible (A Study Guide) Paulist Press 2004 ISBN: 0809141892; ISBN-13: 978-0809141890
  • Required Book: Tim Dowley The Student Bible Atlas Augsburg Fortress Publishers (October 30, 2005) ISBN: 0806620382; ISBN-13: 978-0806620381
    • The same Atlas is used for both the Old Testament and the New Testament courses.
  • Course Materials available at the VLCFF Amazon Store.

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: Introduction to the New Testament
    • Explain highlights from Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) for a deeper understanding of the New Testament and its application to our lives.
    • Outline the history of Palestine and the Jews from Alexander the Great to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans
    • Be familiar with the geographic landscape of the New Testament and how it relates to our times
    • Discuss the cultural and economic situation of the Roman Empire that influenced the writings of the New Testament
    • List the different sects in Judaism and describe the religious practice of Judaism in the first century CE
    • List the contents of the New Testament and its three sections.
    • Describe the process of forming the New Testament
  • Week 2: An Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels
    • Define the synoptic problem and describe the two-source hypothesis
    • Outline the three stages of Gospel development
    • Describe the Markan themes of messianic secret and failure of disciples
    • Discuss the Matthean themes of new law, anti-pharisee sentiment, and delay of Parousia
    • Do redaction criticism on a text from the Gospel of Matthew that also appears in the Gospel of Mark
  • Week 3: An Introduction to the Gospels of Luke and John
    • Engage in a virtual experience of Cana of Galilee, the Sea of Galilee and the city and Temple of Jerusalem
    • Explain the meaning of the World Behind the Text, World of the Text and the World in Front of the Text for deeper comprehension of the Gospels of Luke and John[br]
    • Identify the communities to which the Gospels of Luke and John are addressed
    • Be able to explain the difference in narrative story and discourse particularly in the Gospel of Luke
    • Explain Jesus' mission as presented in Luke's Gospel
    • Define the meaning, structure and role of parables
    • Discuss the high Christology in John's Gospel and define the "I AM" sayings
    • Understand the meaning of "low" and "high Christology"
    • Understand the meaning of eschatology
  • Week 4: An Introduction to the Letters of Paul
    • Summarize the life of Saul/Paul of Tarsus
    • Explain what exegesis says about Paul’s authoring of letters, his audience and message
    • Describe the cultural and religious situation of the Roman Empire at the time of Paul
    • Be conversant with a few of the major theological themes within Paul’s letters
    • Gain insights from Paul's writings that apply to the Christian community today
    • Discuss the apocalyptic expectation of Paul and the early Christians
    • Explain why Paul wrote the letter to the Romans
    • Explain Paul's argument for resurrection of Christians
  • Week 5: An Introduction to Later New Testament Writings
    • Describe the historical context of late first-century Christianity, including the persecution and ostracization that  Christians suffered
    • Define a Hellenistic household code and describe how it was used in early Christian exhortation
    • Identify the Catholic Letters and their purpose
    • Define the genre of apocalypse
    • Outline the structure of the Book of Revelation with its repetition of seven and its three scrolls
    • Understand what recapitulation means in reference to the Book of Revelation
    • Be able to discuss the images for Christ used in Revelation, especially the Son of man and the lamb