Forum Discussion Ask me for requirement when you login 1st: · Read the linked document: How NT Scholars Study (    ) Student 1: Jennifer Titteri The met

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· Read the linked document: How NT Scholars Study (    )

Student 1: Jennifer Titteri

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· Read the linked document: How NT Scholars Study (    )

Student 1: Jennifer Titteri

The methods of study that I find to be most useful and interesting are Form Criticism and Social-Scientific Criticism. 

Form Criticism – This method of study focusses on the different types of text within the bible, such as poetry, letters or prayers. I find this interesting because often the context of the Bible is missed because of a misunderstanding of the structure. For example, Genesis is a book that is often confused due to its poetic form. If taken as a record of exact events, Genesis can be relatively confusing and is hard to relate to our world. If taken as a poetic or abstract interpretation of creation, the book can be opened up to different interpretations of creation, such as the presence of science within creation. As well, this method helps us to understand different ways in which we can read the bible, such as reading David’s Psalms as prayers, or understanding the historical context of a book, such as Leviticus. 

Social-Scientific Criticism – This method of study focusses on the cultural effects of events within the time period as well as the importance of the cultural practices and mindsets that existed at the time, such as how family and lineage played into society. This method of study is interesting to me because of the mental and historical context to the Bible that is missed. For example, the importance of the mental distress Israel would have gone through after being in the wilderness for 40 years and how it would effect their view on the world at the time, and the resulting effect it would have on their writing. 

 One method that I am not interested in is deconstruction. This method seems to have the intention of completely disproving the value and message of the Bible. This method disregards the personal value that the Bible holds and the aspect of faith that is required to engage with the message. 

I am guessing that both the professor and TA use the method of Historical Criticism. 

Student 2: Alexis Money

The Text Criticism method seems like one of the most intriguing and logical ways to commit to the understanding of the New Testament. Throughout history, the creation of new translations such as the passion translation can often miss some of the key fundamental ideas from the original manuscripts. Attempting to recreate an accurate timeline can recenter the true meaning and context of what the manuscripts were remarking to.  Ideological Criticism has piqued my interest due to how I personally interpreted the bible when I was young. Through a lack of education and leadership, the context of certain passages in the bible often created confusion in my readings. Coming to the realization that one single author does not tell the complete and full story of what other minorities were going through. Ideological Criticism challenges the traditional interpretations of the New Testament, creating room for voices that were never able to be heard and documented.  The particular method that I truly would distaste to research would be Deconstruction Criticism. The idea that postmodern philosophy was born under secular conditions and leads to rejecting any value and belief seems unappeasable. Therefore, dissecting the New Testament with this criticism would take the belief in God out of it and that is not an idea I care to learn about.

Student 3: The top two approaches that interest me the most are Archaeology and Reader-Response Criticism.

Archaeology is very interesting to me because it involves finding physical evidence that helps provide context to some of the texts in the New Testament. It would be very cool to discover and study artifacts or old documents to help yourself come to a better understanding of historical events or texts.

The second approach that interests me is Reader-Response Criticism. This fascinates me because it focuses on interpretation and allows for different understandings of the same text. It takes race, age, gender, socioeconomic status, and more into account and allows the reader to interpret it in their own way.

My least favorite approach would have to be Source Criticism because it focuses on hypotheses and not facts.

I would predict that my instructor and TA research Historical Criticism because they seem to have an extensive knowledge base on the history of Christianity which allows for a better understanding of what Christianity is today.


· Read the short article: “PUNCTUATIONINTHENEWTESTAMENT.” (    )

Student 1:  

In my opinion, the most significant claim in the New Testament is quotation marks. Quotation mark is punctuation used to indicate that the following words are someones exact language (spoken or written), which can represent the exact beliefs of the indiviudal or indicate to the reader that these words indicate some thing more then shown on the surface. Often times in the New Testament quotation marks are used to identify exact language from individuals such as Jesus or others. When quotations like this arises it gives readers insight into that individuals exact thoughts and beliefs which can influence the lines significance to the reader as it backs and proves exact beliefs of individuals during the time original scripts were written. Secondly, it can indicates to the reader that there is more meaning behind this quote then the words that appear. Causing the reader to think and interact more with what they are reading so they are able to internalize the text, and connect deeper with the line being read as it hold more meaning then what comes to the eye. So, this claim I feel like is the most significant as it influences the readers experience of the New Testament as it boost the significance and meaning of lines within the text and influences individual connection to the New Testament.  

Student 2: Ruge Li

The most significant claim the article makes for understanding and interpreting the New Testament is about quotation marks. First of all, having the quotation marks help the reader to identify whom the content is addressing to.  In the 1 Corinthian 7:1, the author uses quotation marks to emphasize the part that Paul disagrees with Corinthian.  If the quotation is removed, readers will not be able to quickly recognize if the part was Paul’s response, his own interpretation or it is a statement that Corinthian already said to Paul. Nowadays, people still use quotation marks to demonstrate who said what to whom in their essays or writings to help demonstrate the context. Even though quotation marks do not always help to translate exactly what the original text is, it is still a significant part when the author needs to make clear of the person whom the content is addressing to which will help the reader to understand the context of the story or words efficiently. Moreover, quotation marks lead the readers to clearly recognize one’s speech. In chapter 1 of Acts, the author uses quotation marks to differentiation “Peter’s speech and the author’s own words”. If the quotation mark is removed, the reader will have a hard time identify which is the part that Peter states and which is author’s statement. Nowadays, this is commonly used when writing books as it shows the part that narrator explains and the part that other character says. This is an essential part not only in the context of Acts but in all places where the authors needs to differentiate the dialogues between the main character and the narrator. 

Student 3:  

In my opinion, the most significant claim the article makes for understanding and interpreting the New Testament is the quotation marks, this is very important because it helps us understands the New Testament more in depth. Having the quotation marks can help us determine who said those exact words, this is very important for all of us to determine where the direct statement is coming from. The quotation mark will help the words stand out, rather than just looking at different words, where it is possible we can get confused. This way we can read it and be able to tell the difference between a word or a direct statement coming from either a book, bible, or a letter. Quotation marks can show us and represent the exact word that was used, said, and written. Lastly, we can use a quotation mark as evidence, and an argument for understanding the New Testament. For example, we can use a word in the New Testament, and we are able to provide the evidence that this was written on the New Testament with “”. We are using quotation marks in our everyday conversation, but we do not notice it as it is not written on a piece of paper. Without quotation marks we would not be able to tell the difference in the New Testament 


Read “‘Lost Gospels'”—Lost No More” article (    ).

Student 1:

This question is an interesting one and definitely made me think. I think the Apocrypha at large fails to uphold the characteristic of being authoritative. Though regarding inspirational status, I think it could very well be that some Apocryhypical texts were inspired. However, I take that these texts aren’t on an equal playing field as canonical gospels and should rather be considered as a potential resource (through exercising careful observation). 

Regarding authoritative status, I think the Apocrypha’s failure to meet the criterion for canonization is a reason supporting an understanding of the Apocrypha as non-authoritative. This careful and tedious process followed the criteria of a given texts’ measure of apostolicity, catholicity, orthodoxy, and traditional usage. I believe each of these categories worked to include only Christian writings that were theologically sound, used and acknowledged across the empire, apostolic, and relevant to the church at large. I believe the Apocrphycial texts could be said to lack the quality of being authoritative based on their failure to meet these standards. As such, I think it’s best such texts are considered with caution, but nonetheless could serve as a beneficial resource to complement our biblical reading of the New Testament. 

Concerning inspirational status, I think that it’s possible some Apocryhypical texts could have held this characteristic. After all, inspiration isn’t a criterion for canonization. Yet, I think even if some apocryphal texts held an inspired status, this does not make them equal to scripture–as per the argument I made above. 

Student 2: Landon Fuller

In the article 34 Gospels, I am convinced that all Christian Apocrypha are authoritative or inspired. I believe they were all inspired and should not be considered “used to deceive the simple-minded.” I can understand why selected texts were not canonized. For reasons such as missing text or different perspectives that did not show to be as valuable. However, uncanonized texts, such as writings from Q, were used in gospel writings, showing how authoritative these texts can be. The article states, “they were valued not only by “heretics” who held views about Christ that differed from normative (or “orthodox”) Christianity, but also by writers within the church who did not hesitate to promote and even create apocryphally texts to serve their own interests”. In my understanding, it shows that these ancient texts are being used now and still hold a level of authoritative credibility, expressing that they should not be viewed as invaluable texts. In conclusion, I consider the Christian Apocrypha as authoritative and inspired text. The Apocrypha may benefit Christians in the studying of the material. Furthermore, should not be disregarded as they still hold value. 

Student 3: Christian Rossi

This discussion regarding the Christian Apocrypha text is very intriguing and after reading the “Lost Gospels” I believe that the texts mentioned in the article were not authoritative. In addition, I believe the texts do not provide any inspirational factor or have more authority in comparison to the canonical gospels.

The reason I believe the Christian Apocrypha texts are not as authoritative as the canonical gospels are because Christianity started with numerous different voices and narratives but it was the Roman Church with the canonical gospels who emerged on top and had their voice heard. Due to this, we are familiar and have grown with the teachings in the canonical gospels so it is only right to believe that these texts are our priority and no other texts should have the same authority or influence. We know these texts to be the word of God and it would be wrong to go against the canonical gospels and believe in the Christian Apocrypha texts.

Likewise, this means Apocrypha texts also have no inspiration factor because some of the words written in the Christian Apocrypha were contradicting of some of the teachings in the canonical gospel. It would be wrong to take inspiration from a text that has contradicting points from our main canonical gospels that the people believe in. Even if the section we refer to in the Apocrypha text is not contradicting, we must look at the work as a whole when deciding if we should pick out certain sections and believe in the teachings or not.


· Watch the PBS series: “From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians.” There are four programs, but these are viewed in two parts. Part one will be complete here, and part two in the next reflection forum.

· Watch Video for Part One 

Student 1: Jasmine Obogbaimhe

Program 1


1a) The documentary reveals that Jesus had proximity to a sophisticated urban environment. The idea of Jesus’s social class and his job as a carpentry is being questioned and the fact that Jesus might not have been a peasant was brought to light.

I find this discovery interesting because I grew up with the impression that Jesus was a humble (poor) carpenter. This image of Jesus growing up was almost taught to create the image of a Son of God who comes from a humble background yet is the Son of the ‘Most High’. The idea that this might not be the case is a bit hard for me to accept.


b) I have learnt that the Essenes where a very conservative group of the Jewish sect, but I did not realise the extent to which they tried to set themselves apart – It was mentioned that they went to the dessert to get away from the worldliness of Jerusalem and the worldliness of the Temple.

This is very interesting to me because I was a Jehovah’s Witness and Jehovah’s Witnesses try to set themselves apart from “Babylon the Great” (the term used to refer to this world). They also believe they are the true form of Christianity which I find very similar to the Essenes and their description as an Apocalyptic sect who thought of themselves as the true form of the Jewish religion.


2a) I believe the Romans killed Jesus


b) It makes a difference as to who killed Jesus because it was assumed that the Jews killed him which creates so much controversy. However, through the crucifixion, we have evidence that it was the Romans which clears the air around the misconception that the Jews might have done it.


Program 2


1a) There was no barrier between Jews and Gentiles in the Jewish synagogues during worship.

 I find this really interesting because the Bible states various contrast between Gentiles and Jews. And Jesus states a time that will come in heaven when the Jews dine with the Gentiles, implying that they were not really ‘friends’ in his time on earth.


b) It was interesting to see how people such as the Gentiles were attracted to the rituals of the Jesus Movement such as baptism and the memorial which led them to covert to Jews.

It reminds me about Christianity today and how converts are drawn through invitations to celebrations like Christmas carol service or Easter Sundays. The things we do as Christians go a long way in the way we appeal to others. I believe these rituals in the early days where one of the factors that contributed to the spread of Christianity.


2) The Roman roads/paths enabled Paul travel to various cities in Rome. He believed the cities where the natural environment for Christianity to thrive. Through his visit to these cities, Christianity began to spread quickly.

Student 2: Jordyn Matthews

From the first program, I discovered that Jesus’ political standing was different from what is portrayed in the bible. He was not a Jewish peasant, that was a carpenter, but rather someone who held a level of sophistication and hierarchy to contribute to politics and urban life. He also was not one to Rome the desserts and place himself away from urban life, but rather one who was very much present in urban life. Which is interesting to me as he is not portrayed in this way nor is it what you’d expect hearing all the stories. Continuing on expanding my knowledge, I did not grasp that when they state “the end” or like times in scripture writing, it does not mean the end of the world. This statement means the end of evil in that time period is coming. This was interesting to me as certain religions and groups got very hung up on the fact that the end was coming and lived their life accordingly; however this was not the true case, it was just the end of evil. It is stated in this documentary that the Romans were the ones that killed Jesus and that Pilate handed Jesus to the Romans as he knew that Jesus could overcome their power but would not attempt to as going against the Romans ended in great disappearance. The proof given for this was that the Romans at this time were the ones that practiced crucifixion; it was not those in Jerusalem. Which makes a difference as Jesus death was not due to his wrong doing and arrest but rather now has become a political message and his death was more in act of the Pax Romana.    


  For the second program I learned that in the Hebrew scriptures it is outlined that the chosen one from Messiah, must be persecuted or executed. It is outlined in it as if it were a job. I found this interesting as one it is nothing that you’d believe would be seen for the chosen one, but however it does further reinforce Jesus and the incredible gift he was given and the fulfilling of his job. I also learned that when individuals first became interested in Jesus’s movement they became Jewish, which not that I think makes sense as Jesus was Jewish, however with Jesus’ wide representation in the diverse world of Christianity was slightly surprising and intrigued me when I discovered this. Furthermore, I believe there were a few conditions that allowed Christianity to spread so quickly is one because Christianity began as the roots of the movement providing hope of a better future in the next life for the lower classes, as population in this period was majority lower classes it would have intrigued numerous individual, and given them hope and faith. Two things which hold great power to encourage conversion. The other is  the promise of salvation and eternal life for everyone was an attractive alternative to Roman religions, this is the concept of the end coming within this time period and the violence of battles this factor would have encouraged many individuals to convert as it gave them a sense of security and hope which hold an ordeal of power when inspiring conversion. 

Student 3: Yi Zhang

It is interesting that originally as people joined the Jesus movement, they first converted to Jews. They had to ascribe to the Jewish laws on individual cleanliness, including food to be eaten and the circumcision laws. Jewish laws were also strict on people you could eat with, which presented a dilemma for the early adopters of the movement. Becoming a follower of the movement would mean that everyone becomes one, with no exception of becoming a Jew. The dilemma that brings out is the necessity of becoming a Jew in order to follow the Jesus movement. There is also a woman, Priscilla, named severally before her husband which is interesting due to the weakened role of women in the Jewish society.  Another interesting fact that is cited in the documentary is the conflict between Peter and Paul. Paul accuses Peter of not being faithful to the gospel due to his interactions with non-Christians. This is particularly interesting because of the fact that the apostles were tasked with spreading the gospel to non-believers in order to convert them to Christianity. Paul is furious about Peter eating with the Gentiles, a situation that raises the question of the laws of Moses in Christianity and whether or not Christians are supposed to ascribe strictly to the laws. One particular law is the Jewish law on circumcision.  The growing tensions in Jerusalem facilitated the growth of Christianity due to the ruling regimes. The killing of the apostles also caused a revolt against the administration. It can be argued that the tensions created a need to create a new community, which made the gospel of Christ sell out faster. Another factor was the nature of the message that was being preached with promises of spiritual gifts, a future life, and liberation, which was appealing to the congregations, out of the ordinary life experiences. These factors combined led to the faster growth of the Christianity movement.


· Watch Video for Part Two 

Student 1: Yi Zhang

What two things did you learn that you didn’t know before. Explain why

       The two things are interesting to you. From the video, I have learned that the gospel of mark was addressing the persecuted Christian, that of Mathew addressed the Jewish Christian that their neighbor could not believe them and was meant to strengthen their faith

How are the authors of the Gospels interjecting their own beliefs and circumstances into

the story of Jesus

Mark, in his gospel of mark, was addressing Christians that were experiencing persecution. The purpose was to inform people who experienced persecution that sometimes they may feel abandoned, experience pain, mockery, or even death. However, physical death is not the end since Jesus will come back for them and be resurrected. In the gospel of Mathew, he was addressing the Jewish Christians who had moved away from their home. He provided the genealogy of Jesus to the Jewish to reassure them that Jesus was Jewish and his roots could be traced to Abraham (pbs frontline, 1998). The gospel of Mathew’s purpose was to strengthen the faith of Jewish Christian who was living around people that did not believe in the story of Jesus. While the gospel of Luke was addressing the gentile, the purpose was to provide them with new hope that Christ the messier has come to liberate them from every form of oppression that they may be experiencing in their life.

Post what two things you learned that you didn’t know before.

       I have discovered that the synoptic gospel tends to differ from the gospel of john example, john did not speak of the last supper in his gospel. Also, the gospel has a lot of differences in how the author narrates their story (pbs frontline, 1998). There are some aspects that certain other authors of the gospel have omitted because they were addressing different audient and the massage was different, so that omission can be considered intentional.  

What is the value of understanding how stories are influenced by the storyteller?

       Through understanding how the stories are influenced by the story tell it become easy to understand the message of the story, the audience and also understand that the story tells may be telling the story from a different perspective that may make the story not be the same

Student 2: Jakob Lisborg

Program 1

After watching the first half of the second part of the documentary, I was actually surprised to find that Jesus’ miracles were not rare phenomena that set him apart from the other messianic figures that preceded and succeeded him, according to scholars. In a historical aspect, this would explain why there is very little historical evidence that would set apart a historical Jesus from the many other “messiahs” that appeared around the time of his ministry. In another sense, this concept adds to the secretive aspect of Jesus as described in Mark that focussed on Jesus remaining anonymous in his works.

Another thing that I learned from the first half was how Luke’s gospel and the book of Acts resembles that of Roman literature from the time period of its origin. I found this fact to be interesting in that it expresses the canonical writer depicting the story of Jesus much like the Aeneas or the Iliad.

The gospel writers interject their own beliefs and circumstances into their respective stories through various methods. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus is depicted with very human qualities and dies on the cross feeling abandoned by God during his darkest hour. This reflects the community that Mark is writing and ministering to, who feel displaced and distant from God after the Temple is destroyed. For Matthew it is not only the many Jewish qualities of Jesus that sets this account apart, but also the targeting of the Pharisees as the villains of his account. The latter part can be depicted as an interjection when one considers that the Pharisees were not a very prominent group in Judea until much later, after Jesus’ death. By identifying and understanding these hidden interjections within the writings of the Gospel writers one can observe many aspects of the places, time periods, and perspectives from which they are writing.


Program 2

During the second half of this part of the documentary, I learned about the prison diary of Perpetua, a Christian martyr in the second century. I recall briefly learning very little about the martyr Perpetua, but never knew about the existence of her prison diary. I found it interesting how a woman of great faith maintained a diary that can attest to her bold story of the cruel life endured by Christians under Roman persecution. Such a recording has monumental value to biblical studies in the sense that it gives the personal account of a Christian who stood for her faith to the very end. 

The second thing that I learned from the later half of the documentary was that the Roman catacombs contained a variety of canonical artwork including Jesus holding a “wand” when healing the sick. I found this particularly interesting in the sense that I would never imagine holding a “wand” when healing. I cannot help ponder this image among other interpretations as seen in class, especially since this idea is very alien to me.

The Roman Empire’s response of consistent persecution to Christianity only led to further inspiration and persistence of the Christian Movement in those times. No matter how brutally the Romans attempted to deal with the growing movement that was Early Christianity, the early followers of Christ persisted and even spread to those holding government office to the point where it would render the empire compromised in their control of those positions. It was only a matter of time before a Roman Emperor would relent and support Christianity as seen with Constantine. Despite the great sacrifice of many martyrs in the early, it resulted in the survival of the religion to the point of its acceptance which allowed it to grow into what it is today.

Student 3:

Part 1

While watching the documentary “From Jesus to Christ” part two, I learnt a lot of new information. Firstly, the program explores the time afterwords Jesus’ death. During this time early Christians have begun to spread out and further their message to non- Jewish people, and Gentiles. This interested me because I learnt more about the background of how Jesus’ word was spread around the world. Paul the Apostle, found new churches in Greek cities, and distanced himself away from traditions of the Jesus Movement. Another thing I learnt from this documentary was that there was a catastrophic Jewish revolt against Rome from 66-70 c.e. This event ended in the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. The temple was destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylonia. Nebuchadrezzar removed the temples treasures and destroyed the building. The authors of the Gospels were not direct eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and his ministry. But they have the capability to interject their own beliefs to the story of Jesus. The gospel of John speaks more about his personal beliefs of Jesus, and how Jesus surrenders for a symbolic lesson to his followers. He writes more of a spiritual gospel to his followers, where as Mark directs his writings to Gentile converts of those living in Rome. 

 Part 2:

During the second half of part two of the program, I learnt more about Roman catacombs. They contained a variety of canonical artwork, and were underground galleries used as cemeteries. At the time, the Roman law prohibited the burial of the deceased in the interior of the city; leading to the catacombs being located outside of the city walls. Another thing I learnt was about Mohammed al-Samman finding a jar containing the lost gospels. The jar contained 52 gospel texts on 13 leather-bound …

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