Religion A 211: New Testament Gospels
Rel 211 is a survey study of the four New Testament gospels intended to illustrate the life, teachings, and, above all, the suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will examine the gospels as scripture and ancient texts, setting them in their ancient historical and cultural contexts while examining them as testimonies of the atoning mission of the Savior. As texts, we will work to appreciate their literary artistry, identifying their structures, imagery, and themes. As works of scripture, we will study them in order to realize more fully the promise of John 20:31 that "these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."
After reviewing the background of the gospels, we will first examine Mark, perhaps the earliest written of the four gospels, to understand its approach and to gain a better understanding of the basic life and mission of our Lord. We will then proceed to survey Matthew and Luke, comparing and contrasting them to each other and with Mark. The final unit will study John and then culminate in a consideration of the Passion Narratives in all four gospels, reflecting upon the pivotal events from the Last Supper through the Resurrection.
- Mortal Ministry
- Suffering (Passion)
- Sacrifice (Crucifixion)
Course Objectives: This section of Rel 211 has three major objectives:
- First, to increase the student’s knowledge of the gospels—that is, to familiarize him or her with their basic storylines, characters, themes and theological concepts.
- Second, to help the student read, analyze, discuss, and write about the Bible as both a source of scriptural knowledge and as a sacred text.
- Third, to strengthen individual testimonies of sacred truths, particularly by an increased understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the Restoration.
Class discussions, quizzes, and exams will all be formatted with these three overarching objectives in mind.
Links and Bookmarks
- Rel 211 Introduction
- Genres in the New Testament: a list of genres found in the New Testament, particularly the gospels
- Gospel outlines (Click here for PRINTABLE PDF Outlines) (structural analysis of all four gospels, broken down into sections and pericopes)
- Lecture outlines and presentations
- Unit 1: Background, Beginnings (Infancy Narratives), and Mark
- Unit 2: Matthew and Luke
- Unit 3: John; Passion and Resurrection Narratives
- Elder David A. Bednar, In the Strength of the Lord."
- Some New Testament helps and resources
- Paper Guidelines
Lecture Outlines and Presentations
Unit 1: Background, Beginnnings (Infancy Narratives), and Mark
- 1a. Rel A 211 Intro
- 1b. Historical Background of the New Testament Gospels. Israel from David to the Captivity; Effects of Captivity; Jews under the Persians; Jews under the Greeks; Brief independence under the Hasmoneans (the Maccabees); Under the Herods and Romans.
- Reading: JCWNT, "The World Between the Testaments" and "The Greek and Roman Worlds," 16–41 (packet); Robinson, "The Setting of the Gospels," 10–37 (packet); "Essenes," "Herod," "Herodians," "Maccabees," "Pharisees," "Roman Empire," "Sadducees," BD 667, 700–702, 727, 750, 763–64, 767.
- SUPPLEMENT: Lands of the Gospels Presentation (Jon Rainey)
- 2. Literary Background and Interpretation of the New Testament. New Testament gospels: review of what they are, preview of when they were written and what their sources were. Brief history of the Bible; Methods of studying, interpreting, understanding, and correctly applying biblical texts; Form Criticism and Gospel Genres; the KJV and Other Translations.
- Reading: "Bible," and "Gospels," BD 622–24, 682–83; JCWNT, 4–13 (online); Huntsman, "Teaching through Exegesis: Helping Students Ask Questions of the Text," and "Genre Questions: What Kind of Writing Is This Passage?" (packet). See also: "The Textus Receptus" and "Greek Manuscripts and Later English Translations" (online and Blackboard). See also Huntsman,"Outlining as a Study Tool."
- 3. The Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke and Other Gospel Beginnings. Points of Departure—Why the Differences? Christmas and Easter. Formula Quotations. Matthew’s Genealogy. Matthean Themes and Images. Canticles. Lucan Themes and Images. Reading: Matthew 1–2; Luke 1–2; John 1:1–14. JCWNT, 68 (handout). See also: Hall and Welch, charts 8.4, 8.6–8.7 (packet).
- 4a - Lucan Infancy Narratives. Lucan Themes and Images. Reading: Luke 1-2
- 4b. Introduction—Mark and the Apostolic Proclamation of Christ: Mark’s gospel; Authorship; Joyhn Mark; Audience; Features of Marcan Style; Sources for Mark; the Speeches of Peter: a Model for Mark? Structure: a Drama in Three Acts; Marcan Christology; Other Themes.
- 5. Authoritative Galilean Ministry Begins - Mark 1-3: Prologue: The Opening of the Ministry; Five Controversy Narratives. Exegetical Discursus: The Healing of the Man with Palsy. Reading: Mark 1:1–3:6. Brown, "The Testimony of Mark," 61–87; JCWNT, 80–92 (online). See also: Peek, "Early Galilean Ministry and Miracles," 269—288; Hall and Welch, charts 7.1 and 7.3 (packet)
- 6. Acceptance and Rejection; Parabolic Teaching and Mighty Deeds of Jesus - Mark 3-6 Call of the Twelve; Rejected by His Own; the True Kindred of Jesus. Marcan Parables. Jesus Stills a Storm, Exorcises the Gerasene Demonic, Heals the Woman with the Issue of Blood, and Raises Jairus’ Daughter. Mark 3:7–6:6a (on Mark 4:41, see Helaman 12:8–14 n.b. 7–8). Take-home quiz #1 distributed.
- Quiz 1 Materials
- Review 1a (lectures 1–6)
- Packet, section 9
- 7. The Galilean Ministry Concludes - Mark 6-8: The First Mission of the Twelve, Great Deeds, Christ on the "Hollowness" of the Pharisaic Traditions, and Peter’s Declaration. Christ’s Mission Begins to Expand Beyond Galilee, Opposition Increases, Jesus Heals a Blind Man "In Stages," and the Disciples’ Faith Grows Even as They Misunderstand. Mark 6:6b–8:30. Take-home quiz #1 due. Revised 9/21/05 with new slide on healing the blind man "in stages."
- 8. On the Road to Jerusalem: the Passion Predictions Begin - Mark 8-10 The Blindness of the Disciples; "Correction" narratives of prediction, misunderstanding, and teaching; the Mount of Transfiguration; Ethics of Discipleship. Mark 8:31–10:52.
- Exam 1 Materials
Unit 2: Matthew and Luke
- 9a. Gospel of Matthew. Introduction—Matthew the Scribe. Authorship, Internal and External Evidence. The Synoptic "Problem." Authorship, Audience, and Features.
- 9b. Proclamation of the Kingdom - Matt 3-4. Part 1 (narrative): The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus. Reading: Matthew 3–4. Matthew," BD 729; Millet, "The Testimony of Matthew," 38–60; JCWNT, 62–67 (online). See also: Hall and Welch, chart 7.3 (packet).
- 10. Matthew’s Sermon the Mount - Matt 5-7. Christ, the New Moses. The Beatitudes. Fulfilling the Law—Six Antitheses. True Piety and the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 5–7. See also: Hall and Welch, chart 9.3 (packet).
- 11. Galilean Ministry and Growing Opposition to Jesus - Matthew 8-13. Part 2: Ten Miracles Reminiscent of Moses; The Healing Power of Christ: "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses"; Matthean Controversy Narratives. The Mission Sermon. Part 3: Opposition to Jesus Narrative; John the Baptist; Jesus Prayer; More Controversy Narratives. Sermon in Parables. Matthew 8:1–13:52. See also: Peek, "Early Galilean Ministry and Miracles," 288–93.
- 12. Rejection by Israel and the Sermon on the Church - Matt 13-20. Part 4: "A Prophet is not without honor . . ." The Leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees; Peter’s Declaration and the Keys of the Kingdom; Fulfillment of God’s Purposes Will Continue in Christ’s Church. Sermon on the Church. Matthew 13:52–20.
- 13a. Gospel of Luke. Introduction—Luke, the Detailed and Compassionate Evangelist: Authorship, Internal and External Evidence. Luke the Physician. "Theolphilus" and Luke’s Original Audience. Dating, Sources, and Composition (Two-source vs. Three-stage). Style and Characteristics. Lucan Christology. Purpose and Structure of Luke’s Gospel.
- 13b. Preparation for the Ministry - Luke 3-4: Baptism, Genealogy, Temptation. Reading: Luke 3:1–4:13; esp. JST Luke 3:5–9. "Luke," BD 726; Anderson, "The Testimony of Luke," 88–108 (packet); JCWNT 108–116 (online).
- 14. Galilean Ministry - Luke 5-9. Good News of the Kingdom; Call of the Twelve; Sermon on the Plain; the Compassion of Jesus; Women in Luke; Mighty Miracles; Jesus and the Twelve. Luke 4:14–9:50. See also: Hall and Welch, 9.12–15 (packet); Huntsman, "Galilee and the Call of the Twelve Apostles"; Wayment, "The Sermon on the Plain"; Peek, "Early Galilean Ministry and Miracles," 293–99 (packet). Take-home quiz #2 distributed.
- Quiz 2 Materials
- Review 2a (lectures 10–16)
- Packet, section 9
- 15. Journey to Jerusalem 1 - Luke 9-13. Mission of the Seventy. The Lawyer’s Question—the Good Samaritan and the Mary and Martha stories. Teachings on Prayer—the Lord’s Prayer, the Friend at Midnight, and Bread from a Father to a Son. Healing the Bent Woman and a Woman Mixing Dough. Luke 9:51–13:21. Take-home quiz #2 due.
- 16. Journey to Jerusalem 2: The Perean Ministry - Luke 13-19. More Lucan parables, including the Parables of the Lost and Found; Warnings about Wealth; the Widow and the Unjust Judge; the Scope of Salvation, including the Pharisee and the Publican and the story of Zacchaeus. Luke 13:22–19:27.
- Exam 2 Materials
- Review 2b (lectures 10–19)
- Packet, section 9
Unit 3: John and The Passion and Resurrection Narratives
- 17a. Gospel of John. Introduction—John the Theologian. Authorship and Audience. The Beloved Disciple and the "Johannine Community." Style and Structure of the Fourth Gospel. The Synoptics and John.
- 17b. John 1 and the Logos Hymn: "And the Word was made flesh . . ." The Light and the Witness. Reading: John :1–18. "John," and "John, Gospel of," BD 715–716; Griggs, "The Testimony of John," 109–126; JCWNT, 126–133 (online). See also: Hall and Welch, chart 9.10 (packet).
- 18. The Book of Signs. From Cana to Cana. First Sign: Water to Wine at the Wedding at Cana; Blood, Water, and the Incarnation; Jesus, Jerusalem, and the Cleansing of the Temple; Discourse on the New Birth: Dialogue with Nicodemus; Discourse on the Water of Life: Dialogue with the Samaritan Woman at the Well; Second Sign: Healing the Nobleman's Son in Cana. John 2–4. See also: Peek, "Early Galilean Ministry and Miracles," 299–304 (packet).
- 19. Jesus and the Feasts of the Jews 1: The Sabbath—Healing at the Pool of Bethesda and the Discourse on the Divine Son. At Passover—Feeding of the 5,000 and the Bread of Life Discourse; Many Disciples Turn Away, but "Lord . . . thou has the words of eternal life." John 5–6 (start reading ahead on John 7–12). See also: Huntsman, "The Bread of Life Sermon" (packet). Handout: Signs, Discourses, and Sayings.
- 20. Jesus and the Feasts of the Jews 2: Tabernacles—Discourses on the Life-giving Spirit and the Light of the World; Healing of the Blind Man; Discourse on the Good Shepherd. At Dedication—Jesus the Messiah and Son of God.: "I and my Father are one." The Raising of Lazarus and its Aftermath—Jesus the Resurrection and the Life. Moving towards The Book of Glory. John 7–12.
- 21. The Final Days of the Savior's LifE
- 22. Teachings in the Temple, the Olivet Discourse
- 23a. The Last Supper. The Last Supper. The "Passion" of Jesus Christ; The Last Supper tradition; Setting the Scene for the Passion—the Anointing; the Institution of the Sacrament. Mark 14:1–31; Matthew 26:1–35; Luke 22:1–38; John 13. See also: Seely, "The Last Supper According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke," 59–107 (packet); Jeffrey R. Holland, "This Do in Remembrance of Me"
- 23b. John's Farewell Discourses. The Paraclete Sayings; Jesus, the True Vine; Christ’s Imminent Departure; The Way, the Truth, and the Life; "As I Have Loved You . . ."; The Intercessory Prayer. John 14–17. Homestudy! Because of scheduling difficulties, please print this presentation and read over it carefully on your own!
- Quiz 3 Materials
- 24. Gethsemane. Gethsemane and the Atonement; Setting the Stage, Starting the Sacrifice; The Beginning of the Atoning Sacrifice; Luke, the Compassionate and Detailed Evangelist; Agonia; "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood . . ."; the Extent of Our Lord’s Sufferings; Jesus and the Olive. Mark: 14:32–42; Matthew 26:36–46; Luke 22:39–46; John 18:1. See also: Skinner, "The Agony of the Bitter Cup," Gethsemane, 67–91 (packet). Maundy Thursday, a Reflection. Take-home quiz #3 distributed.
- 25. Arrest and Trial. Betrayal and Arrest; Jesus Before the Jewish Authorities; Peter’s Denial; Jesus in the Hands of the Romans—Delivered to Pilate; "What is Truth?"; Sent to Herod Antipas; Before the Mob; Judged, Scourged, and Mocked. Mark 14:43–15:20; Matthew 26:47–27:31; Luke 22:47–23:25; John 18:2–19:17a. See also: Huntsman, "Before the Romans," 269–317; Hall and Welch, charts 10.1–2, 10.8, and 10.13 (packet). Extra materials: Spencer W. Kimball, "Peter, My Brother" and Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Lengthening Shadow of Peter" online; also "On Peter's Denial," an overview. The Trial(s) of Jesus, a Reflection. Take-home quiz #3 due.
- 26. Crucifixion and Burial. On the Way to Calvary; At Calvary—Activities at the Cross, Last Moments, Signs and Reactions to Christ’s Death; Why the Cross? The Burial of Jesus. Mark 15:21–47; Matthew 27:32–66; Luke 23:26–56; John 19:17b–42. See also: Jackson, "The Crucifixion," 318–337, and Peek, "The Burial," 338–377; Hall and Welch, chart 10.14 (packet); The Crucifixion: A Reflection. Exegetical paper due.
- 27. Resurrection Narratives. The Empty Tomb. Early Appearances. Apostolic Commissions. Mark 16; Matthew 28; Luke 24; John 20–21. See also: Holzapfel and Wayment, "The Resurrection," 378–397. Jesus' Ministry in the World of Spirits. Easter Sunday: A Reflection on the Resurrection.
- Exam 3 Materials
- Review 3b (lectures 20–29)
- Packet, section 9
Announcements and Upcoming Events
September 12: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, Denver
August 18-21 “Worship: Encountering and Being Transformed by God,” BYU Education Week
August 17 “LDS Christology and the Gospel of John,” BYU Education Week
August 5-11 Aspen Grove Family Camp
April 22: “Grateful for Grace: Appreciating the Saving and Transforming Power of Jesus Christ,” YSA 18th Stake Fireside
April 30: Womens Conference 2015 "Wells of Trust Fanning Flames of Faith"
May 8–9: “The Search for the ‘Real’ Jesus of Nazareth: The Jesus of Faith, History, and Revelation,” Miller-Eccles Study Group, Fullerton and La Cañada, California
September 24 Second John A. Widtsoe Symposium, “Religion in the Public Square,” 7:00-9:00, tutor Center Ballroom, USC, Los Angeles (with the following link:
October 9 “The Footsteps of Jesus: Remembering His Miracles,” Cruise Lady Learn Our Religion Series, 7:00, 9118 S Redwood, West Jordan
November 8: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, St. George
November 14: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, Portland