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REL 150 Exam 1 Study Guide

February 7, 2019


Be able to define or describe the following terms in a sentence or two and/or highlight two or three key points (such as might be included in a multiple-choice or matching-type question).

Alexander the Great Source Criticism Parenesis Triumphal Entry
Hellenization Form Criticism Desposynoi Last Supper
Pharisees Redaction Criticism Faith and Works Great Commission
Sadducees Orality vs. Textuality Wisdom Antitheses
Temple Lukan Prologue Torah Didache
Synagogue Q Righteousness
Jesus of History vs. Christ of Faith Synoptic Problem Sermon on the Mount
Old Quest Redaction Beatitudes
No Quest Gospel Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)
New Quest Synoptic Gospels Petrine Doctrine
Third Quest Christology Passion Predictions

Points to Ponder

Below is a brief summary of the major topics we have discussed in class.

  1. What do scholars mean when they speak of the relationship between the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith”? What were the major periods or phases of the “quests of the historical Jesus”? Who were the key figures? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each period? What are criteria of authenticity?
  2. Historically speaking, how did the written Gospels come to be? What may have been happening during the period of oral transmission of Jesus materials? How confident can we be about the general reliability of the Gospel narratives?
  3. What is the “Synoptic problem”? What is Q? Be able to suggest some reasons there are four Gospels rather than one.
  4. How did hellenization influence the development of Jewish history and religion in the ancient world? What is the difference between a Pharisee and a Sadducee? Generally speaking, what factors might a Christian need to keep in mind while studying the Jewish context of the New Testament?
  5. How do you account for the central place the Gospel of Matthew enjoyed for much of Christian history? What features of the Gospel may have contributed to this role? What can be inferred about the community of believers for whom Matthew was written? What were some of their concerns?
  6. What does the Gospel of Matthew have to say about “righteousness” and/or “law” in the context of early Christianity? Is Matthew’s message “harder” or “easier” than what contemporary Jews were saying? Explain.
  7. Discuss the Sermon on the Mount as a summary of Jesus’ teachings about righteousness (or ethics). What seem to be the major themes of this section of Matthew?
  8. What are the major themes of the book of James? What points of similarity do you find between James, the Gospel of Matthew, and the Didache? Discuss James and Paul as different voices in the early church’s debates about faith and works.

Format of the Exam

Part I. Thirty-five multiple-choice questions worth four points each, based on the key terms listed above and assigned Scripture readings (140 points).

Part II. One essay question (60 points). You will have a choice between two of the following questions:

  1. Discuss the “problem of the historical Jesus” and scholarly attempts to address that problem in modern times. How have the various quests helped to refine our understanding of the Jesus of history? Which proposals seem most reasonable to you, and why?
  2. Describe the development of the Gospels from the period of oral transmission to the writing of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. How was the story of Jesus transmitted in the early churches? What can be said about the accuracy of these traditions? What New Testament evidence provides insight into what was going on during this period?
  3. Summarize the variety of expressions of Jewish faith that were to be found in the world of Jesus. What were the major “sects” or parties? How did they interact with each other? In your opinion, where might Jesus himself have fit most comfortably?
  4. Discuss the depiction of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. How does Matthew handle the Jesus traditions he has received? What seem to be the key elements of his story of Jesus, and how can this shed light on the situation in which the Gospel was written?
  5. Provide a basic introduction to the book of James, discussing its overall message and why this message might be appealing to its intended audience.



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