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New Testament :


Prerequisite and correlate courses:

Prerequisites are Greek Culture in the Ancient World, Ancient Philosophy, and Old Testament. The course provides the third element (together with Greek culture and philosophy, and the history and faith of Israel) to the synthesis that constitutes the basis for Western Civilization. Thus, it correlates to the literary, historical, and theological-philosophical courses offered both in this semester and in the first semester of the second year (i.e. Literature I, Patristics, Medieval Synthesis, and Revelation/Christology).



This course endeavors to explore what it is that makes the New Testament a strikingly "new" literary, religious, and cultural presence among the texts of the ancient world, and incomparably unique among the texts of all time. Most particularly, the course attempts an encounter with and a deepening understanding of the person around whom everything in the New Testament revolves: Jesus of Nazareth.

We explore both the manner in which Old Testament law and prophecy are believed to converge in Jesus as Messiah and the extraordinary result of his life and activity: the emergence of the Church. Some documents (the sub-apostolic fathers) from outside the New Testament may also be read, to examine continuity between the New Testament and the life of the early Church after the Ascension and the activity of the apostles. The time period covered is the first and second centuries of the Christian era.


Possible sequence of topics:

  • Meaning of "inspired text"
  • The difference among the Synoptics, John, and Paul
  • Nature of the experience NT writers communicate
  • Relationship between the Old and New Testaments
  • Meaning of Jesus' centrality; what sort of "hero" is Jesus?
  • Jesus the Jew
  • The gospel genre: the mystery and ineffable nature of Jesus' person paradoxically revealed in human language and in a human story
  • Radically new literary genres (the "gospel narrative"), or existing genres (parables, letters, visionary narratives) infused with singularly new power
  • How do characters in the NT experience the reality of the hypostatic union in the person of Jesus Christ?
  • Manner of Jesus' presence; manner of Jesus' teaching: the parables of the kingdom
  • The acts of Jesus as divine intervention
  • The "Jesus of history" and the "Christ of faith"
  • The community of believers
  • The paradox of Cross and Resurrection
  • The mystery of Jesus' use of sovereign freedom for self-sacrifice
  • The liturgical context of NT texts
Required Texts: The Holy Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
(sections dealing with divine inspiration, historicity of the Gospels, and the manner of confronting Christ in the text of the Gospel)