View outline (PDF) Instructor(s): Dr. Harry O. Maier
To introduce students to a critical study of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and related literature (for example, The Gospel of Thomas) and the issues entailed in interpreting them in their ancient context and appropriating their meaning for multiple contemporary contexts. Students will begin by addressing the critical and theological issues that arise from reading the Synoptic Gospels as historically-rooted texts. They will gain an acquaintance with various literary genres that constitute the Synoptic tradition, be introduced to the characteristic theology of each Gospel and begin to demonstrate an ability to engage the Gospels critically. They will learn to grow in critical awareness of their own pre-understanding and how contemporary context shapes interpretation of biblical texts. Additionally, class time will be given to a brief introduction and resources to learn the Greek alphabet with a view to working with lexicographical and exegetical tools. By the end of term students will be able to identify and distinguish the characteristic features of each Gospel, articulate a theology of critically informed biblical study, and demonstrate skill commensurate with an introductory graduate level of scholarly engagement in the uses of tools of exegesis and interpretation. As this is not a course that takes up the quests for the historical Jesus, the main focus of the course is on the appropriation of memories associated with Jesus as well as traditions arising from him. The course will explore the various uses of history, memory, tradition, and theology in the complex social matrices in which earliest Christianity began to emerge.