BI612EE The Four Gospels - Synoptics and John





This course introduces students to the four canonical gospels as the principal witness for the life and teaching of Jesus handed on to us in writing. Special attention is devoted to appreciating the inter-relatedness of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), how they differ from John’s gospel, and how the tensions generated by those differences enable us to enter more fully into the mystery of our faith.


Course Syllabus

THE FOUR GOSPELS

Developer: Chris Seeman

Course Description

This course introduces students to the four canonical gospels as the principal witness for the life and teaching of Jesus handed on to us in writing. Special attention is devoted to appreciating the inter-relatedness of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), how they differ from John’s gospel, and how the tensions generated by those differences enable us to enter more fully into the mystery of our faith.

Learning Objectives

Successful completion of this course will result in the following outcomes:

  • Identify the distinctive ways in which each evangelist narrates the life of Jesus and presents his

teaching

  • Understand the synoptic problem and its implications for reading and interpreting Matthew,

Mark, and Luke

  • Appreciate how the theology of each gospel contributes to the faith of the church

Materials and Access

All assigned readings are indicated in the course schedule (below) and are available for free on the Internet or on the course management page.

Coursework and Grading Procedures

There are two types of graded coursework, each of which will contribute to your final grade.

  • Quizzes (60%): Each module of the course is accompanied by a 10-question quiz worth 5% of your overall course grade (5 x 12 modules = 60%). The questions are objective rather than interpretive and are designed to assess your understanding of key concepts of the module lecture and major elements of the reading. Quiz study guides can be found on the course management page.
  • Discussions (40%): The central learning activity of the course is online interaction with your peers. Each module contains a discussion prompt for you to reflect on and respond to. Discussion will be within small groups assigned by the facilitator and will be conducted in the forums on the course management page. One member of the group will be responsible for writing up a summary of the group’s discussion. Responsibility for writing the summary will rotate with each module so that each group member will write two summaries over the course of the semester. Please download the discussion guidelines from the “Resource Materials” tab at the bottom of the course management page and review them for expectations and grading standards.

Course Schedule

PART ONE: The Gospel according to Mark

MODULE 1: Introduction

  • Listen: Module 1 Lectures
  • Read: Dei Verbum; Mark 1:1-15
  • Assess: Module 1 Quiz
  • Discuss: How does Mark 1:1-15 illustrate Saint Augustine’s dictum that “the books of the Old

Testament with all their parts, caught up into the proclamation of the Gospel, acquire and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament and in turn shed light on it and explain it” (Dei Verbum, Article 16)?

MODULE 2: From Galilee to Jerusalem

  • Listen: Module 2 Lectures
  • Read: Mark 1:16-10:52
  • Assess: Module 2 Quiz
  • Discuss: Which “hearers of the word” within Mark 1:16-10:52 illustrate one of the four soil types described in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:14-20)? Explain your reasoning for each identification.

MODULE 3: From Temple to Tomb

  • Listen: Module 3 Lectures
  • Read: Mark 11:1-16:20
  • Assess: Module 3 Quiz
  • Discuss: Extend your application of the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:14-20) to Mark 11:1- 16:20. Do the dysfunctional soil types in the parable help us to analyze what happens in Jerusalem? How might the different endings of Mark be analyzed in terms of the parable?

PART TWO: The Gospel according to Matthew

MODULE 4: A New Moses

  • Listen: Module 4 Lectures
  • Read: Matthew 1:1-7:29
  • Assess: Module 4 Quiz
  • Discuss: How do the petitions of the Lord’s Payer (Matthew 6:9-13) align the person praying

with the types of people who belong to the kingdom (Matthew 5:3-12)? When we pray this prayer, are we praying for Beatitude?

MODULE 5: Scribes Trained for the Kingdom

  • Listen: Module 5 Lecture
  • Read: Matthew 8:1-20:34
  • Assess: Module 5 Quiz
  • Discuss: Can Matthew’s narrative of the Twelve’s formation provide models (or principles) for the formation of ecclesial leaders today? Which aspects of this narrative (i.e., insertions expansions, relocations, deletions) do you find to be most valuable in this regard?

MODULE 6: A New David

  • Listen: Module 6 Lectures
  • Read: Matthew 21:1-28:20
  • Assess: Module 6 Quiz
  • Discuss: How does the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46) align with the

Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11)? (How do the specific behaviors listed in the parable correspond to the dispositions that identify those who belong to the kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount?)

PART THREE: The Gospel according to Luke

MODULE 7: The Prophet of Liberation

  • Listen: Module 7 Lectures
  • Read: Luke 1:1-9:50
  • Assess: Module 7 Quiz
  • Discuss: What can Luke’s portrayal of prophetic inspiration teach us about the church’s prophetic vocation? How does prayer fit into this (since most inspired persons in the story prophesy before, during, or after praying)?

MODULE 8: The Teacher of Mercy

  • Listen: Module 8 Lecture
  • Read: Luke 9:51-19:28
  • Assess: Module 8 Quiz
  • Discuss: How does one of Luke’s unique parables (pick one of the ten to write about) illustrate the major themes of Jesus’ teaching in the Big Interpolation (Luke 9:51-19:58)?

MODULE 9: The Suffering and Ascendant Messiah

  • Listen: Module 9 Lecture
  • Read: Luke 1:29-24:53
  • Assess: Module 9 Quiz
  • Discuss: What are the implications of the Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-32) for how we proclaim the Gospel today, both to the faithful as well as to those who do not yet recognize Jesus to be the Christ?

PART FOUR: The Gospel according to John

MODULE 10: The Word Became Flesh

  • Listen: Module 10 Lectures
  • Read: John 1:1-51; Nostra Aetate, Articles 1-2; Dominus Iesus
  • Assess: Module 10 Quiz
  • Discuss: How does John’s prologue inform the church’s teaching (as articulated in Nostra Aetate

and Dominus Iesus) concerning religious pluralism? How can we use John 1 to communicate this teaching today, both to the faithful as well as to those who do not yet recognize Jesus to be the Christ?

MODULE 11: The Book of Signs

  • Listen: Module 11 Lectures
  • Read: John 2:1-12:50
  • Assess: Module 11 Quiz
  • Discuss: How does one of Jesus’ signs (pick one of them to write about) illustrate the theology of John’s prologue (1:1-18)?

MODULE 12: The Book of Glory

  • Listen: Module 12 Lectures
  • Read: John 13:1-21:25
  • Assess: Module 12 Quiz
  • Discuss: How does Jesus’ commission in John 20:21 relate to his own mission (described and explained throughout John’s gospel)? What did the Father send Jesus to do, and how are we to participate in that mission? Ground your response in specific passages from John’s gospel where Jesus (or the narrator) explains his mission.






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