Welcome to Studies in the Synoptic Gospels

          Course Description


The New Testament texts that figure most prominently in the life of the Church are the Synoptic Gospels, that is, the three that tell the story of Jesus in largely the same way ("synoptic" means "seeing together"). This course introduces the student to these gospels and to various methods of higher criticism that guide inquiries into the texts. Through close reading and guided observation, you will gain a basic mastery over the content, formal features, social locations and theological perspectives of these gospels. In addition, you will gain some facility working with synoptic theory, with certain methods of higher criticism, and with the basic tools of gospel study (concordance, synopsis, biblical commentaries, and Bible dictionaries).

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1. To appreciate the historical, literary, social, cultural, religious, and psycho-spiritual soil out of which the Gospels spring and in which it continues to grow.
2. Chronology: to be able to identify the key events and persons relating to the emergence of the Gospels in the Greco-Roman world from 63 B.C. to 150 A.D.
3. Geography: to be able to locate key biblical sites.
4. To develop the art of Synoptic criticism (“criticism” = appreciation of the finer details) through an extensive use of the Gospel Parallels.
5. To appreciate the contribution of each of the evangelists to the gospel tradition and to begin to sense their special literary, theological, thematic, spiritual and editorial input.
6. To be able to identify recent insights and trends in Synoptic research, with special emphasis on the “third wave” of historical Jesus research in the last two decades of the twentieth century, with critical assessment of the “Jesus Seminar.”
7. To deepen awareness of the meaning of the “gospel” for its readers, for those they live with and serve, for the Church, and for the world in an age of pluralism.



Download and read Textbooks
Jesus in the First Three Gospels by Millar Burrow
(click on link to download)

The Modern Readers Guide to the Gospels

When were the Gospels written

From the Material above write a 10-12 page Book Review

      When finished reading a Gospel email for quiz

Read online Reference material link pages

click on links to view

The Gospel According to Q

Final Project

 Approximate length: 15 pages. Start thinking of a topic early on. You will get ideas from the online readings.  List the title of your proposed paper/project with a descriptive paragraph of your objectives.

















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