Intro to the New Testament

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Our Exam Conversation will last about 45 minutes for each of you individually.  Please sign up for one time by clicking edit, then write your name in and click save at the bottom.  See THE FINAL CONVERSATION for instructions about preparing and a list of questions to choose from.

All times listed are MDT.

Tuesday May 31st

12:30 pm Kelsey Ross

Wednesday June 1st

9:30 am

10:30 am

12:30 pm

5:00 pm

Thursday June 2nd

9:30 am--Matt Farris

10:30 am Mariah Himes

2:00 pm Scott Kearney

3:00 pm Ben Sides

If none of these times work for you, please let me know and we will make it happen at another time.

for your

Oral Exams will be held the final week of class.  Sign up here for a time.

Please use the following link:

Preparation for the Exam

Your answers should be rooted in your learnings specifically for this class. The purpose of this "final conversation" is for you to show me what you’ve learned. ( If you carried with you a prior working knowledge of the NT, you may want to think of this question in terms of how what you learned you in this class has altered your views.)  All the questions have some thematic breadth to them, as well as being rooted in specific texts or issues we studied.  In other words, I want to see that you are able to synthesize the material and form coherent generalizations, and that your syntheses derive from close readings of the biblical texts (with support from secondary sources where appropriate).  I expect our conversation to operate at both the macro and micro level.  Therefore you should have a shortlist of textual examples ready for each question.  We probably won't get to discuss all your examples in detail--that's okay, but you want to have them ready.  Choose them carefully;  I may ask you to interpret them, not merely cite them.   A conversation is a dialogical encounter, so I may ask you leading questions or I may challenge your interpretation or ask you to justify your choosing it.  

Expect to spend about 45-50 minutes in conversation.

Questions for Discussion

Choose three (and only three) of the following questions for our conversation.

  1. Explain the debate about the translation of pistis christou = faith in/faith of Christ. Where does the phrase appear and what’s at stake theologically or christologically? Why does this grammatical argument about the subjective vs objective genitive matter? 
  2. Why are some of Paul’s letters judged by scholars to be pseudonymous? What criteria do scholars use to determine whether or not Paul is the author of a letter?  Be sure to have a few specific examples ready to discuss.  How do you evaluate the arguments for pseudonymity? Does non-Pauline authorship of a text change its status in your view?
  3. Compare how Paul’s mission as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles to Paul’s understanding of himself as Apostle to the Gentiles as reflected in his letters (and discussed by Stendahl and/or Eisenbaum). Be sure to have a few textual examples at the ready.  How significant is the question of Paul's identity to understanding Paul's teachings in his letters?
  4. One of the leitmotifs of this class is the lingering problem of anti-Judaism in the interpretation of NT texts. Identify and discuss two or three aspects of Judaism in the time of Jesus that you have learned in this class, and then discuss one gospel text (your choice!) and one other NT text we studied (again, your choice) where this knowledge makes a difference.
  5. Another leitmotif of the course is the constellation of issues related to the role of women at the dawn of Christianity, and gender roles more broadly, within the context of a patriarchal culture, as well as sexuality, celibacy, and marriage.  Select two or three specific texts (discreet passages, not whole books) that can illustrate what you regard as signficant learnings you gleaned from the course.  If a friend asked you what the earliest Christian views on gender roles and sexuality were, what would you tell them?  What texts would you highlight?
  6. What is Stephen Patterson's central thesis in his book on the Passion? Reflect on the ways his work has impacted your thinking.  Because there is lots that Patterson covers, pick one section, i.e., Victim, Martyr, Sacrifice, and critically engage with his particular claims in that section.  You can agree or disagree or have some mixture of both -- or perhaps just tell me about some thing(s) you learned and why they matter to you-- but whatever your response, you must articulate reasons and be specific with examples.  
  7. If there is one thing you learned in this class that you regard as very important (and it's not connected to any of the five previous questions), something you regard as significant for (Christian?) theology or social justice or ethics or spirituality, the kind of thing you are likely to remember ten years from now, tell me what it is and why.  

+Questions are now posted.

Instructor: Pamela Eisenbaum

T.A.: Hesron Sihombing


I nstructor : Please use Canvas Email to communicate with me - it  is the most reliable way to reach me and facilitates easy tracking of our correspondence.  (Iliff email is )

TA : Email is

Course Synopsis

This course serves as a broad introduction to the New Testament, its literature, historical context, origins and early development, as well as its importance to the Christian tradition.  It is required for students in the M.Div Program, has no prerequisites, and serves as the foundation for any upper level, more specialized courses you wish to take.

Learning Goals

  1. To provide a basic knowledge of the contents of the New Testament and its central interpretive issues.
  2. To recognize the New Testament as a source for understanding the origins of Christianity as well as how it generated fundamental beliefs and practices that shaped the Christian tradition.
  3. To understand how New Testament texts or the interpretation of those texts have contributed to social and political injustices.
  4. To become a skilled interpreter of scripture in general and the Gospels and Pauline Epistles in particular, someone who is aware of biblical scholarship and able to deploy their knowledge and skill to bridge ancient scripture and the contemporary world.

Learning Outcomes (beta mode :)

Required Books:

Stephen Patterson, Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Life and Death of Jesus (Fortress, 2004). ISBN-13: 978-0800636746

Krister Stendahl, The Final Account: Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Fortress, 1995) ISBN-10: 0800629221

Bart Ehrman, A Brief Introduction to the New Testament ( Fourth Edition; Oxford, 2016) ISBN-13: 978-0190276393 Note: This text may be rented from Amazon or Chegg Books—considerably cheaper than the purchase price.* Note2: This is NOT the most recent edition of Ehrman's book.

In addition to these books, other readings will be assigned in some weeks.

A Bible in one of the following versions: NRSV (recommend HarperCollins Study Bible, but any NRSV will do); New International Version (Updated 2011); New American Bible (Revised 2011); New American Standard Bible (Updated 1995); Note: Pay attention to the date and edition; older versions are not acceptable, though anything published later than the stated date is fine if it is the same version.

If you prefer electronic versions (e.g. Kindle) of any books, that is fine.

Optional Books

The following books help elaborate key topics or provide a written source that complements material covered in a video, or simply provide added detail to something you may be interested in.

Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul Was Not A Christian (HarperOne, 2009).  This book provides more detailed information about Paul in the context of First Century Judaism and gives you a fuller account of my own perspective on Paul.

The Jewish Annotated New Testament (eds. Amy-Jill Levine & Marc Brettler; 2nd edition, 2015).  This volume contains the NRSV edition of the New Testament, with extensive notes--more extensive than any other Study Bible I know of.


The weekly rhythm is as follows: Each week goes from Monday to Sunday.  The title of each forum includes the date for the Monday of that week.  Unless instructed otherwise, most weeks you will be required to make two postings: one by Thursday at noon; the other by Sunday.  Detailed instructions about participation in discussion forums can be found

The main activity most weeks is our weekly discussion.  Unless otherwise indicated, you are required to make at least two posts: 

First post: most weeks a question will be posed to which you must respond in 250-300 words.*  Some weeks may not have a specific question but some other kind of prompt and/or an opportunity for you to choose an issue you want to discuss.  (In addition to what is required, you can also post questions to Hesron and me about whatever is one your mind--related to the course :)    Unless otherwise indicated, your first post is due on Thursday at 12 pm (noon)each week.  You will not be able to see others' post until you post.

*Please take this word count seriously. 250-300 words is approximately equivalent to one typed double-spaced page.

Second(+) post is a response to one of your peers.  It is due by the end of the week, which is Sunday at 11:59   There is no specific word count minimum or scripted instructions for your response.  Any thoughtful comments related to the topic will fulfill this requirement.  The kind of thing that would not fulfill it:  "Very interesting!" or "Amazing insight!" or "I disagree."  In other words, say something substantive.  It can and should be brief, but say something meaningful and relevant to the week's discussion.  The minimum is that you respond to one person, but you are encouraged to respond to others--whoever has posted something you find interesting.

I consider our weekly conversations informal, so your writing need not be highly polished, but it should not be rambling chatter either. Your first post should be more thought-out, well structured, and a well-articulated response to the discussion prompt.    

Evaluation of Online Discussion Participation

You will be evaluated on a scale of 1-10 each week.  If you follow the directions, respond thoughtfully to the discussion prompt,  and post on time (or close to on time), you will receive full credit. 

For most weeks I evaluate your participation using a ten-point scale.  The number serves as a shorthand for you to know how you're doing.  If I don't think you're meeting expectations, I will communicate to you ways you can improve, especially in the early weeks of the term.  In some cases, you might receive little or no commentary, just the number.  Here's a breakdown of my criteria for assigning points:

Points  What that number tells you
10   You wrote an excellent response in your initial post answering the question, on time or close to on time (grace shall always be given to those in need when they ask :-) and you interacted substantively with classmates.  Generally a "10" signals you exceeded expectations. (See "instructions" above for expectations.)
9 You wrote a good response, i.e., you responded substantively to the question--mostly on topic--on time or close to on time and responded thoughtfully to at least one other student.
8 You wrote a a good initial response, but were more than a day late and/or did not respond to anyone else
7 You wrote a thoughtful initial post, but didn't address the question or didn't engage any of the reading AND were late and/or didn't respond to anyone else.

You posted an adequate (or perhaps subpar) response, and it was very late, and/or you did not respond to anyone else.  And, if you didn't post your initial response until after Sunday (i.e. the next week), then by default you didn't engage others in conversation.  Please note that even in this situation, posting something earns you five or six points, which is much better than zero!  Also, note that the grace period ends the Thursday of the following week; after that time, the discussion forum closes. If you have not posted before it closes, you receive no points for that week.

0 You didn't post anything for that week at any point. 
Important things to remember 1) Always read the question carefully and do your best to answer it.  The questions are not designed to elicit one specific answer--I expect your responses to differ in various ways, including approaching the question from different perspectives, which enriches our discussion--but the questions almost always depend on your having absorbed the reading relevant to the question.  If you are having trouble grasping the reading, that's okay; if you're confused about something, others are likely confused as well, so feel free to ask for clarifications, explanations, etc. 2) At the end of the term, I drop the lowest grade.  Everyone has life-stuff that sometimes creates special challenges.  If you are having one of those weeks, you can afford to skip a week.  You'll see a zero for that week, but it will not count toward your final grade.  I am not encouraging you to skip a week, but if you need to, you can take a pass.  At the same time, if you find yourself repeatedly unable to meet the requirements of online discussion, please contact me via Canvas ASAP.  Collectively, participation is a large part of your grade, so we need to assess the situation before we're 5-6-7 weeks into the term, and see if there is a remedy or whether it is best to drop the course.  3) Participation in online forums is not the only element of your participation grade.  Participation in gathering days is also a requirement and in a couple of cases so is an activity that requires "live" interaction.


The readings and any other "to-dos" specific to a given week will be listed in that week's forum.

Assignments and Evaluation Overview

Feb 28, 2022MonPractice Quizdue by 06:59AM
Apr 01, 2022FriInstructions for Weekly Postingsdue by 05:59AM
May 05, 2022ThuWEEK 6 - MAY 2nd: MIDTERM | BOOK OF ACTSdue by 05:59AM
May 05, 2022ThuMidterm I: Quizdue by 05:59AM
May 08, 2022SunMidterm II: Essaysdue by 05:59AM
May 21, 2022SatWEEK 8 MAY 16th: ROMANSdue by 05:59AM
May 26, 2022ThuWEEK 9 MAY 23rd: JESUS AND PAUL THE NEXT GENERATION due by 06:00PM
Jun 05, 2022SunFINAL CONVERSATIONdue by 05:59AM