Introduction to the New Testament

I’m considering the idea of teaching a 13-week, online, live course, “An Introduction to the New Testament.” I’m looking for feedback from those who might be interested about what they would be able/willing to pay to attend such a course. The content is an academic introduction to the New Testament is therefore non-sectarian, non-confessional. Believers and non-believers, would benefit from this approach to understanding the context and content of the writings that were officially canonized by the middle to end of the fourth century C.E.

Below is the first draft of the Course Syllabus, to give you a fuller idea of what would be covered and how. The live, online, course will include lecture, small and large group discussion. It would be limited to 24 students to allow for question/response times as well. Though academic in content, there are no prerequisites other than an open and curious mind and a humble and respectful attitude. No grades will be given; no certificates will be earned. The motivation for attending the course and doing the readings is thus the pure joy of learning and interacting with others who are similarly motivated.

In all probability, if the interest is there, the Course wouldn’t begin until after March (Spring) break, 2022. Dates and times will be worked out once the class participants are determined. I will use the feedback I get from interested parties to determine the amount of tuition I will charge. Depending on class size, I may be willing/able to offer a couple of partial or complete scholarships.

For those who don’t know me, my qualifications include: (1) B.A. in Classics (UBC); (2) M.A. in Religious Studies – Hebrew Bible & Ancient Judaism (UBC); (3) Doctorate studies in Theology (ongoing); (4) Experience as teaching pastor (35 years plus), as a Teaching Assistant (UBC & TWU), as a Sessional Instructor (TWU), and as a Guest Lecturer on several occasions (UBC).

Please feel free to pass the link to this post on to friends and family you think might be interested.

With gratitude, Brian

Online Bible Academy (OBA)

Course Syllabus

Course Name: Introduction to New Testament Studies

Dates: TBD

Instructor:  Brian G. Felushko M.A., doctoral student (Theology)

Contact Information: email: brian.felushko@gmail.com

Pre-requisites:  none

Semester Hours:  Equivalent to 3 semester hours

Lecture Time: TBD

Class Location: Zoom Link

Course Description

The New Testament is a collection of twenty-seven writings from the first century of the Common Era. The collection forms the second half of the Christian Bible, the first half being what Christians call the Old Testament and what people of the Jewish faith call the Tanakh (an acronym for the Hebrew rendering of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings). Aside from the obvious religious authority of the New Testament for some one and a half billion Christians in the world today, it has been and continues to be a highly influential collection of writings in Western culture.

This course is an introduction to the field of modern New Testament studies, which has thrived as an academic discipline since the Enlightenment period. It is not, strictly speaking, a survey course that covers every writing in the New Testament. The first third of the course will be devoted to issues of social, literary, and religious backgrounds, canon and theories of inspiration. This part of the course aims to provide an understanding of the context within which the New Testament was originally written and later canonized. The remaining two thirds of the course will cover the major writings of the New Testament—namely the Pauline letters, Synoptic Gospels, Acts, and the Johannine writings—from socio-historical and literary perspectives. We will examine issues pertaining to authorship, purpose, genre, and major religious themes. While the main focus of the course is on the historical understanding of the New Testament, in class discussion groups will aim at the relevance and interpretation of the New Testament in today’s culture.

Course Learning Outcomes

The following chart demonstrates how this course participates in Online Bible Academy’s (OBA) Student Learning Outcomes. The column on the left indicates OBA’s Student Learning Outcomes relevant to this course; the column on the right provides learning outcomes specific to this course.

 OBA Student Learning OutcomesCourse Learning Outcomes
1. Knowledge and its application • a broad foundational knowledge of human culture and the physical and natural world. • a depth of understanding in any chosen field(s) of study.• a foundational knowledge of the New Testament in its first-century CE Greco-Roman context (including social, political, religious, and literary backgrounds) • a depth of understanding about how ancient audiences would have understood the genres, symbols, rhetoric, and religious ideas found in the New Testament
2. Cognitive complexity • skills including critical and creative thinking, quantitative reasoning, communication, research, and information literacy. • an ability to respond with wisdom, humility and charity to questions, issues, and problems of the human condition.• an appreciation for modern critical approaches to the study of the New Testament • the ability to responsibly interpret, analyze, and reveal the meaning of the language, narratives, and arguments in the writings of the New Testament • the ability to respond with wisdom, humility, and charity to the questions, issues, and problems of the human condition explored in the New Testament
3. Aesthetic expression and interpretation • creative, performative, material and narrative forms of critical inquiry.• via performative inquiry a deeper critical understanding of how the earliest audiences understood, and were influenced by, the writings of the New Testament
4. Theological Formation • a spiritual dimension by means of an exposure to various theological perspectives. • a fuller understanding of God as both Open and Relational • a reliance on scripture, experience, reason and Christian tradition as a basis for theological formation  • informed and imaginative reflections of how we might today think about foundational religious/theological ideas, including God, the nature of humanness, values, and language • a charitable understanding of the varied Christian perspectives and interpretations of the ideas and themes in the New Testament • an honest and mature identification with a Christ-like way of life that is characterized by love for and service to others
5. Social Responsibility and Global Engagement • respect for the dignity and rights of all persons. • respect for those with whom we disagree • understanding of the implications of Open and Relational Theology for day-to-day life      • respect for the dignity and rights of all persons, specifically demonstrated by engaging with the high anthropology of the New Testament • respect for the multiple perspectives on how people seek meaning and identity individually and communally

A Bible is Required – (bet you didn’t expect that!)

A Bible of your choice. Please use a translation instead of a paraphrase. Recommended: New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, New American Standard Version, New American Bible, English Standard Version. The NET Bible. Please have it available during online class.

Recommended Textbooks (Choose One)

Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (7th edn.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). Recommended, but not required.

Garry M. Burge, Lynn H. Cohick, & Gene L. Green. The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament within Its Cultural Context. (2nd edn; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2020). Recommended, but not required. Available cheaper in Kindle

Readings will be recommended from each textbook which will coincide with the topics covered in each week’s class.

Recommended Course Activities

1. Read the writings of the New Testament over the thirteen weeks of the course—that’s 20 chapters per week—in the order they appear in the NT.

2. Read the Textbook. Reading the assigned chapters after the class is a good way to review.

3. Written Project. Write a short essay of approximately 800–1000 words on the topic/text of your choice, with the approval of the instructor. This is not required, but encouraged. No grade will be assigned, but the instructor will offer written feedback.

Class Schedule

Week                          Topic                                                

1                       Introduction to the Course                           

2                      Political Background                                      

3                       Social Background                                         

Week                           Topic

4                       Religious Background (Pagan)                        

5                       Religious Background (Jewish)                       

6                      Earliest Christianities                            

7                       New Testament Manuscripts                       

8                      New Testament Canon; Theories of Inspiration

9                      In Search of the Historical Jesus                                                         

10                    What are the Gospels?                                    

11                    Gospels Attributed to Mark, Matthew, Luke/Acts & John                              

12                    Paul’s Life and Letters Attributed to Paul

13                    The Remaining Epistles and Revelation 

OBA’s Policies:

Course Tuition. In order to be considered registered for the course, tuition must be made in full before the beginning of each course.

Tuition Refund. A written request for refund (full or partial) dependent upon a conversation with the instructor. The amount of refund, if granted, depends upon when the request is made.

Class Expectations.

  1. Participation in small breakout/discussion groups is strongly encouraged. It is part of the learning process, to both share your thoughts and to respectfully listen to the thoughts of your fellow students.
  2. Unless it is impossible, we request that all students keep their cameras on, but mute and unmute their microphones when asked to do so by the instructor.
  3. During the lecture portions of the class, please write questions/comments in the Chat box, and the instructor will pause to respond as appropriate.
  4. Help create a completely safe, non-judgmental and totally inclusive environment. You will hear things from the instructor and/or other students with which you might disagree, even strongly. It’s good to disagree, discuss and even debate when the environment is filled with humility and respect.
  5. While assigned biblical and textbook readings are NOT required, students will get the very most out of the course by coming to each class as prepared as possible. However, stuff happens, and when it does, students are encouraged to attend the live class anyway.
  6. If for some reason a student is unable to attend the live class, a link to the recorded class will be available to registered students. Please do not share these links with friends or family who are not registered in the course.
  7. If any student would like to offer constructive feedback to the instructor at any point during the course or at its conclusion, please email your instructor with your thoughts.
  8. If you enjoy and are benefitted by the course, please feel free to write a review and invite your friends or family to consider registering for future courses.

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