BI610CE The Synoptic Gospels and Acts of the Apostles: Introduction to the New Testament

This course is an introduction to the content and theology of the Synoptic Gospels and Luke’s sequel to his Gospel the Book of Acts. Special attention will be given to the art of theology and ministry to the Word of God paying attention to ways Matthew, Mark and Luke have constructed their gospels as a whole and how they have uniquely shaped parallel accounts to convey a distinctive theology of Jesus Christ and the Church.

Course Syllabus

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  1. Articulate the Catholic teaching on the historical character of the Gospels as distinct from both modern skepticism and Biblical fundamentalism
  2. Describe the three stages of Gospel composition as laid out in Dei Verbum and Sancta Mater Ecclesia
  3. Compare and contrast the points of theological emphasis between the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke in their respective gospels as a whole and in their unique presentation of parallel passages
  4. Articulate key theological themes in the Book of Acts and the many ways in which that work presents a parallel account of the Church with the Gospel of Luke’s account of Jesus.
  5. Discuss the liturgical uses of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts
  6. Be able to develop and deliver homilies based on Lectionary readings from the Synoptics and Acts.

Required Texts:

  • One good Catholic Study Bible (e.g., The Catholic Study Bible or another New American Bible, Ignatius Study Bible, etc.)
  • Mark Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus: The Survey of Jesus and the Gospels
  • Luke T Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, SacPag 5 (Liturgical Press: ISBN 978-0-8146-5968-7)

Texts Provided:
Chapters, articles, and passages from various other texts will be posted from time to time on our course website

Course Outline

Week One: Overview of the Gospels. What actually is a Gospel anyway? The Gospel Composition and Historicity. Bonus: The Very Basics of the Synoptic Problem

The Gospel of Mark

Weeks Two - Four: Introduction to Mark, Mark the Odd Man Out, Mark’s Rough Edges, Mark’s Unique Material. Background and Structure of Mark.

The Gospel of Matthew

Weeks Five - Seven: Introduction to Matthew; Matthew as a Synoptic Gospel; Is Matthew Really the “Jewish” Gospel?; Gospel of Matthew as Expansion of Mark; Matthew’s Unique Material; Matthew’s Triads and Doublets. What is Typology? Typology in Matthew. Overall Structure of Matthew

The Gospel of Luke

Weeks Eight - Ten: Background to Luke; Luke’s Structure; Luke’s Special Material and Famous Parables; The Lukan Travel Narrative

The Acts of the Apostles

Week Eleven: Overview of Acts; Continuation of Lukan Themes, The Holy Spirit as Character; The Movement of the Word

Week Twelve: The speeches in Acts as a unifying theme of book