Religion 110B: New Testament Literature

Professor Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus

Spring 2004 MWF 9:30-10:20

Office Hours: MW 11:30-12:20, 2:00-3:30 PM, Th by appointment
Office: 102 Knapton
Phone: x3694 E-mail: jkraus


Through readings, discussion, and some lectures, this introductory course intends to explore the history and literature of the early Christian movementy. Our study in class will progress in two stages: 1. an investigation of the cultural and religious contexts out of which Christianity developed; and 2. a selective survey (mainly Paul and the Gospels) of the New Testament literature itself with an emphasis on the diversity of the religious perspectives it reflects. Students will begin to develop skills in the critical reading and interpretation of NT passages through their in-class discussions and papers.

Enhanced section of Literature of the New Testament - Rel 198 (1.5 credits)

I am offering an enhanced version of the Introduction to the New Testament course, in which we will spend an additional hour a week reading some of the assigned Biblical texts in Greek. It is open to students with some previous knowledge of Greek. Let me know within the first two weeks of class if you're interested. If so, the course number for your schedule is Rel 198, instead of Rel110a, and is worth 1.5 credits.


1. The Assigned Readings

Students are require to read the assigned readings for the topics as listed on the syllabus. A few additional reading assignments may be suggested during class. Consequently, students missing class will be responsible not only for the lecture material they may have missed but also for any additional assignments made during the class session.

The readings and lectures are intended to provide a general overview and perspective on NT history and literature, and the readings will sometimes provide more in-depth discussion of selected topics. However, in class discussions of the primary and secondary readings are an essential part of this class. In class discussions we will clarify, synthesize, and apply the insights gained from the assigned reading.

Therefore, attending and participating in class discussions and carefully studying the assigned readings are crucial requirements for all students.

An electronic discussion has been set up on Blackboard for this course to which students are required to contribute. This on-line discussion site is intended to be forum for students to continue discussions with one another begun in class, and to raise questions prior to in-class discussion. Students are expected to make at least 10 contributions to the on-line discussion (@one per weekly topic) and must submit their first ten contributions in duplicate - one to the Discussion page and one to the Assignment page of Blackboard - in order to receive full credit for the electronic discussion component of the class participation grade.

Class participation will count as 15% of the course grade - 10% for "responses," that is, contributions to the electronic discussion and 5% for in-class discussion and a brief in-class presentation. Students missing more than 3 class sessions for unexcused absences will be penalized 1/3 a letter grade per every 2 absence (i.e., for 4 absences , a B+ becomes a B, for 6 a B-, for 8 a C+, etc.)

2. The Biblical Text

Students are required to read the Biblical text and learn its contents. Sometimes specific Biblical texts will appear on the assignment sheet. Often, however, students will be expected to read thoroughly the Biblical texts being discussed in the other asgned readings. The major textbook for the course, Duling/Perrin, The New Testament : Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History (3rd ed.), is designed as a handbook for interpreting the NT; that is, it gives an outline and follows the argument of each Biblical book it discusses. Students should read the Biblical text along with the Duling/Perrin text.

3. Critical Reading Papers

Three 3 to 4 page (typed) reading papers will be due according to the schedule below. Each critical reading paper will consist of an NT text and a series of questions about it. Students will be divided into groups of 3 or members who will read and discuss the texts together, work out their answers, and write them up in essay form. Group members will turn in separate papers on the assignment but are encouraged to use the insights of the group as a whole freely. The point of this exercise is to learn from and with each other to read the Bible carefully, critically, and reflectively.

Study Groups

The three papers together will count as 30% of the course grade.

4. Examinations

There will be two examinations: a midterm and a final exam.

The midterm will count as 20%, the final exam as 30% of the course grade.


Students should purchase a new or used copy of the Oxford Study Bible. Students should bring their Bibles to class when we begin work on the "text" section of the course.

The following books, all of which are on Reserve in the Library, are required reading for all students:

Duling/Perrin, The New Testament :Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History (3rd Edition)

L. Martin, Hellenistic Religions: An Introduction

B. Malina, The New Testament World (Revised Edition)

*N. Perrin, The Resurrection According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke out of print - on reserve in the Library)

A. Reinhartz, Befriending the Beloved Disciple

A few special reading assignments will be made in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (IDB), D. Cartlidge and D. Dungan, Documents for the Study of the Gospels, ,and E. Schüssler-Fiorenza, In Memory of Her. Students will find these volumes on Reserve in the Library for this course, and the IDB in the Reference Room.


While this schedule will be followed as closely as possible, changes may be necessary and, if so, will be presented during class lectures

[*material on Reserve in the Library]


1/28 Introduction to Course: syllabus, grading, procedures

1/30 Myth, History and Culture

Read: Malina, 1-27

2/2 Zoroastrianism

Read: *IDB III, "Persia," 739-747

1st Critical Reading Paper assigned

2/4 Judaism, 333 BCE to 135 CE

Read: I Maccabees

Duling/Perrin, 35-61

Martin, 3-15

2/6 Judaism (continued)

2/9 Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic

Read: Mark 13; Revelation

Martin, 90-133

2/11 1st Critical Reading Paper Due

(2nd Critical Reading Paper Assigned)

2/13 Hellenism

Read: Martin, 16-89

*Cartlidge/Dungan, 23-35, 92-97, 107-117

2/16 Hellenism and Gnosticism

Read: Duling/Perrin, 65-97

Martin, 134-154

2/18 Hellenistic Culture: Honor, Status, and Rhetoric

Read: Malina, 28-115

2/20 Discuss Malina


2/23 Text and Canon

Read: Duling/Perrin, 1-9, 100-114, 130-137

*IDB. Suppl., 136-140.

2/25 Introduction to Paul

Read: Duling/Perrin, 177-219

Acts 15, Galatians

2/27 Paul's Rhetoric and Letters

Read: Duling/Perrin, 221-259


1 Thess., 1 Corinthians


3/3 Paul's Rhetoric and Letters (continued)

Read: Romans

3/8 Introduction to Synoptic Gospels and Biblical Criticism

Read: Duling/Perrin, 9-33

3/10 Synoptic Gospels and Biblical Criticism (continued)

Read: Perrin, The Resurrection According to Mt, Mk, and Lk

3/12 Read: Perrin, The Resurrection According to Mt, Mk, and Lk

Read: Mark 12-16; Matthew 25-28; Luke 22-24


3/22 Gospel of Matthew

Read: DP, 329-363; Matthew 1-7

3/23 Tuesday 2nd Critical Reading Paper Due (Submit through Blackboard Assignment page)

3/24 Gospel of Matthew

Read: Matthew 8-18

3/25 Thursday evening 7:30 PM  in the May Room of Mary Lyon.

Women’s History Month Lecture "Da Vinci's Code and Gibson's Passions: Christianity and the Female Body in Recent Popular Culture." Jane Gerhard, Visiting Professor of Women’s Studies and Jonathan B-Kraus

3/26 Read: Matthew 19-24

3/29 The Gospel of Mark

Read: DP, 295-327; Mark 1-4

3/31 Read: Mark 5-11

(3rd Critical Reading Paper Assigned)

4/2 Lord's Supper and Passover Seder

Read: 1 Cor 5; 11; Luke 22:1-37 and par. in Mk, Mt., and Jn

4/5 Evening of Passover NO CLASS


Read: DP, 365-403; Gospel of Luke 1-8


Read: Luke 9-15


Read: Luke 16-21

4/12 Acts of the Apostles

Read: Acts 1-11

4/14 Read Acts 12-end

4/16 1 Gospel and Letters of John

Read: John 1-10; handout from Raymond Brown's Community of the Beloved Disciple

4/19 Read: John 11-end

4/20 (Tu) 3rd Critical Reading Paper Due (Submitted on Assignment page in Blackboard)

4/2 Read: DP, [Chapter on John's Gospel]; 1-3 John (the letters)

4/23 The Historical Jesus

Read: DP, 507-549

4/26 The Jesus Movement

Read: *Schüssler-Fiorenza, 105-159

4/28 Read Brumberg-Kraus, "A Jewish Ideological Perspective on the Study of Christian Scripture," Jewish Social Studies N.S. 4:1 (1997) 121-152. Available electronically for Wheaton users via Ethnic News Watch. Search by my name or the the title of the article.

4/30 Read Reinhardtz, Befriending the Beloved Disciple (5 minute student presentations)

5/3 Read Reinhardtz, Befriending the Beloved Disciple (5 minute student presentations)

5/5 Read Reinhardtz, Befriending the Beloved Disciple (5 minute student presentations)



Content by Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus, Associate Professor of Religion
Last Update1.26.04