Intro to the New Testament


Papyrus 44, containing parts of Matthew 25:8-10 and John 10:8-14. Image from Wikipedia.

Professor: Eric C. Smith

Required Texts:

Mitzi J. Smith and Yung Suk Kim, Toward Decentering the New Testament: A Reintroduction , Cascade Books, 2018. ISBN 978-1-5326-0465-2

Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul Was Not A Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle , HarperOne 2010.

Amy-Jill Levine; Marc Z. Brettler. The Jewish Annotated New Testament, second edition . Oxford University Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0-19-046185-0

Yii-Jan Lin, The Erotic Lives of Manuscripts: New Testament Textual Criticism and the Biological Sciences, Oxford University Press, 2016. (THIS TEXT AVAILABLE VIA THE ILIFF LIBRARY IN E-BOOK FORMAT)

Justo González, The Story Luke Tells: Luke’s Unique Witness to the Gospel , Eerdmans 2015.

Angela Parker, If God Still Breathes, Why Can't I? Black Lives Matter and Biblical Authority , Eerdmans, 2021. ISBN 978-0-8028-7926-4

Brent Nongbri, God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts , Yale University Press, 2018.

Recommended Additional Commentaries to Consult (see explanatory video below for more information on how these will work):

Students are encouraged to choose one or more of the following commentaries to consult as a supplement to our regular readings:

Johnson Thomaskutty, ed., An Asian Introduction to the New Testament , Fortress Press, 2022.

Brian Blount, Cain Hope Felder, Clarice J. Martin, Emerson B. Power, eds., True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary , Fortress Press, 2007.

Carole A. Newsom, Jacqueline E. Lapsley, Sharon H. Ringe, eds., Women's Bible Commentary (3rd edition), Westminster John Knox, 2012.

Deryn Guest, Robert E. Goss, Mona West, Thomas Bohache, eds., The Queer Bible Commentary , SCM Press, 2015.

Here's a video on how the course works:

Course Overview

This course introduces the literature of Christian origins that begins with a look at the context out of which the New Testament emerged and then turns to the earliest extant texts, including Paul's letters, the Gospels, Acts, and post-Pauline epistles. In addition, this course will survey (most of) the texts of the New Testament (and a few texts outside the New Testament) and will seek to place them in their specific historical and cultural contexts. Furthermore, this course aims to give students skills that will allow them to interpret these texts responsibly and with methodologies that have proved useful for contemporary audiences. 

Course Outcomes

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to do the following:


This course offers tiered grading options, in the "contract grading" sense. Students may opt to commit to the choice that best suits their life circumstances and educational goals. Although you are asked to indicate a preference at the beginning of the quarter, you may change your selection at any point in the course. If you are pursuing ordination or licensure, please confirm the requirements for your tradition before you make a decision, as some denominations only accept grades of a certain quality for required courses. Your academic advisor may be able to help you find this information.

To receive a grade of Pass or C, students must complete the following:

Each week consists of three posts. These are worth 2 points each, for a total of 60 points for the course. These posts are “low-stakes” in that they are designed to provoke engagement and conversation, not to be formal academic writing, and they are generally graded on a credit/no credit basis. If a post is egregiously short, off-topic, or unreadable, the student may receive less than full credit. Failure to complete all of these posts will result in a grade of Fail or lower than C, which will not give you credit toward graduation. 

To receive a grade in the B range, students must complete the following:

To receive a grade in the B range, you must complete all the posts as listed in the top section. 

Additionally, you must complete the Canon Creation Laboratory, in which you a) fashion your own biblical canon from a list provided and any other works you wish to include, b) explain your choices, attending to what is at stake in the works you included and in your canon as a whole, and c) imagining what kind of critical apparatus (notes, introductions, textual annotations, appendices) might be needed to accompany your canon and make it intelligible to readers. The total length of this project is about 6-8 pages.

Students who complete this work adequately will receive a B. Students who complete it but exhibit deficiencies (see rubric) will receive a B-. Students who complete this work in an exemplary manner will receive a B+. 

To receive a grade in the A range, students must complete the following:

To receive a grade in the A range, you must complete all the posts listed in the top section, and the Canon Creation Laboratory (described above).

Additionally, you must complete an exegesis paper of 6-8 pages. For this assignment, you will choose a passage from the New Testament (typically between 5 and 25 verses) and a) provide an account of the ways the passage has been read by 5-10 different interpreters, and b) provide your own reading of the text, done with attention to the history of the text and its interpretation and the context in which you are interpreting it.

Students who complete this work in an adequate or exemplary way will receive an A (because Iliff does not allow for a grade of A+). Students who complete this work but exhibit deficiencies (see rubric) will receive an A-. 

Mar 29, 2022TueWeek 1: Where Bibles Come From (part 1)due by 05:59AM
Mar 31, 2022ThuWeek 1: Where Bibles Come From (part 2)due by 05:59AM
Apr 02, 2022SatWeek 1: Where Bibles Come From (part 3)due by 05:59AM
Apr 05, 2022TueWeek 2: Genetics, Genomics, and Racisms of the Bible (part 1)due by 05:59AM
Apr 07, 2022ThuWeek 2: Genetics, Genomics, and Racisms of the Bible (part 2)due by 05:59AM
Apr 09, 2022SatWeek 2: Genetics, Genomics, and Racisms of the Bible (part 3) and SYNCHRONOUS ZOOMdue by 05:59AM
Apr 12, 2022TueWeek 3: Perspectives on Paul (part 1)due by 05:59AM
Apr 14, 2022ThuWeek 3: Perspectives on Paul (part 2)due by 12:00AM
Apr 16, 2022SatWeek 3: Perspectives on Paul (part 3)due by 05:59AM
Apr 19, 2022TueWeek 4: Paul's Communities and Conflicts (part 1)due by 05:59AM
Apr 21, 2022ThuWeek 4: Paul's Communities and Conflicts (part 2)due by 05:59AM
Apr 23, 2022SatWeek 4: Paul's Communities and Conflicts (part 3)due by 05:59AM
Apr 29, 2022FriWeek 5: The Synoptic Problem (GATHERING DAYS)due by 06:59PM
May 02, 2022MonCanon Creation Laboratory (for those seeking a grade in the B or A range)due by 05:59AM
May 03, 2022TueWeek 6: The Johannine Tradition (part 1)due by 05:59AM
May 05, 2022ThuWeek 6: The Johannine Tradition (part 2)due by 05:59AM
May 07, 2022SatWeek 6: The Johannine Tradition (part 3)due by 05:59AM
May 10, 2022TueWeek 7: Luke-Acts and the Great Reversal (part 1)due by 05:59AM
May 12, 2022ThuWeek 7: Luke-Acts and the Great Reversal (part 2)due by 05:59AM
May 14, 2022SatWeek 7: Luke-Acts and the Great Reversal (part 3)due by 05:59AM
May 17, 2022TueWeek 8: Pseudo-Paul and Pseudepigraphy (part 1)due by 05:59AM
May 19, 2022ThuWeek 8: Pseudo-Paul and Pseudepigraphy (part 2)due by 12:00AM
May 21, 2022SatWeek 8: Pseudo-Paul and Pseudepigraphy (part 3, SYNCHRONOUS ZOOM)due by 02:00PM
May 24, 2022TueWeek 9: Hebrews and the General Epistles (part 1)due by 05:59AM
May 26, 2022ThuWeek 9: Hebrews and the General Epistles (part 2)due by 05:59AM
May 28, 2022SatWeek 9: Hebrews and the General Epistles (part 3)due by 05:59AM
May 31, 2022TueWeek 10: Revelation and Revelations (part 1)due by 05:59AM
Jun 02, 2022ThuWeek 10: Revelation and Revelations (part 2)due by 05:59AM
Jun 04, 2022SatWeek 10: Revelation and Revelations (part 3)due by 05:59AM
Jun 07, 2022TueExegesis Paper (for those seeking an A- or an A)due by 05:59AM