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Of the Writing of Syllabi There Is No End

There are only so many ways of slicing up the New Testament for ease of consumption by college freshmen. I’ve generally done a little bit of context and methodology work at the very beginning, followed by a thematic approach to the Gospels (one lesson on the parables, one on the miracles, one on the kingdom of God, etc.) and then a quick survey of what is usually in the non-working section of people’s canons (Peter, Hebrews, etc.) before capping it off with several days of Paul and John. The strength of this approach is that it seems to do justice to the diversity of the New Testament documents; the weakness is that certain books (the Gospels and especially Acts) are not allowed to “shine” in their own literary integrity.

So anyway, I’m thinking of revamping my fall New Testament syllabus. I want to go back to a “canonical” rather than a thematic approach to the Gospels (the way I used to teach it in seminary). I also want to highlight the diversity of New Testament because, frankly, I think it makes the course more intellectually stimulating when students can grasp the internal tensions reflected in various strands of early Christian tradition.

Here’s my latest effort:

  1. A Bird’s Eye View of the NT
  2. The Historical Contexts of the NT (selections from 1–2 Macc, Sirach, m.Abot)
  3. The Quests for the Historical Jesus
  4. The Prehistory of the Gospels
  5. The Synoptic Gospels
  6. Judaic Christianity: Matthew (Part 1) // Didache (selections)
  7. Judaic Christianity: Matthew (Part 2)
  8. Judaic Christianity: James and Jude
  9. FISHBOWL 1: Christians and Jews
  10. EXAM 1
  11. Petrine Christianity: Mark (Part 1)
  12. Petrine Christianity: Mark (Part 2)
  13. Petrine Christianity: 1–2 Peter // 1–2 Clement, Hermas (selections)
  14. FISHBOWL 2: Leadership in the Church
  15. Hellenistic-Jewish Christianity: Luke (Part 1)
  16. Hellenistic-Jewish Christianity: Luke (Part 2)
  17. Hellenistic-Jewish Christianity: Acts (Part 1)
  18. Hellenistic-Jewish Christianity: Acts (Part 2)
  19. Hellenistic-Jewish Christianity: Hebrews
  20. EXAM 2
  21. Pauline Christianity: Paul the Missionary and Letter-writer (mainly selections from 1 Cor)
  22. Pauline Christianity: Paul the Apologist (Gal)
  23. Pauline Christianity: Paul the Theologian (Rom)
  24. Pauline Christianity: Pauline Trajectories (Col, Eph, Pastorals) // 3 Corinthians
  25. FISHBOWL 3: Worship in the Church
  26. Johannine Christianity: Revelation
  27. Johannine Christianity: The Gospel (Part 1)
  28. Johannine Christianity: The Gospel (Part 2)
  29. Johannine Christianity: The Letters
  30. The Formation of the Christian Canon

I’m not sure this approach won’t suffer from lack of a concentrated focus on the life and ministry of Jesus. I end up with more days for the Gospels, but they’re spread over the course of the semester rather than getting bunched up at the beginning.



  1. (le-havdil), A analysis (found here: http://www.netzarim.co.il (that is the only legitimate Netzarim)) of all extant source documents and archaeology using a rational and logical methodology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.

    Judaism and Christianity have always been two antithetical religions, and thus the term “Jewish Christianity” is an oxymoron
    The mitzwot (directives or military-style orders) in Torah (claimed in Tan’’kh (the Jewish Bible) to be the instructions of the Creator), the core of the Judaism, are an indivisible whole. Rejecting any one constitutes rejecting of the whole… and the Church rejected many mitzwot, for example rejecting to observe the Shabat on the seventh day in the Jewish week. Examples are endless. Devarim (“Deuteronomy”) 13.1-6 explicitly precludes the Christian “NT”. Devarim 13:1-6 forbids the addition of mitzwot and subtraction of mitzwot from Torah.

    Ribi Yehoshuas talmidim Netzarim still observes Torah non-selectively to their utmost today and the research in the above website implies that becoming one of Ribi Yehoshuas Netzarim-followers is the only way to follow him.


  2. Welcome, Anders. Unfortunately, my teaching assignment stipulates that I teach the New Testament, not merely some form of non-NT devotion or attachment to Yehoshua.


  3. Eliyahu Konn says:

    Devotion and attachment to Yehoshua is correct. “Merely” though is inaccurate. It is in direct opposition to the NT (Null Testament)but 100% documented and logical and therefore objective. To teach myths as a way to obtain favor with the Creator according to the NT is a questionable pursuit -no?


  4. djpursiful says:

    Eliayahu, we’re obviously not going to agree about this, and I continue to be required to teach a course on the New Testament, a book in which I have utter confidence.


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