The purpose of the course is to provide a solid basis for an advanced study of the canonical Gospels, in their social, cultural, religious and historical contexts. In particular, the course focuses on the teaching of Jesus as presented in two of the Gospels (Matthew and John), each distinctive in its theology and together presenting a composite picture of the historical Jesus. Such a basis is essential for pastors and teachers involved in ministry within their local communities.

The teaching Jesus has formed the basis for the Christian community for almost two thousand years. As prospective teachers and pastors, the course is designed to provide a solid framework for the interpretation of these teachings, in ways which are both academic and practical. As we grasp the essence of Jesus profound teaching as revealed in the Gospels, and search out the elements of the original contexts, we are empowered to begin the vital process of translating those teachings into our own contexts, for the benefit of our own communities. This is the heart of all true theological enterprise and so logically, what this course is all about.

By the end of this course the student should be able to:

  • compare and contrast one of Matthew’s parables with a similar parable in the Gospel of Luke.
  • compare and contrast key elements in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) with Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6).
  • apply the teaching of Jesus on the metaphors in the Gospel of John, such as bread (John 6), light (John 8) and sheep (John 10), in the form of a Bible study for your home community.
  • compare and contrast the didactic (teaching) conversation of Jesus with two different people, Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman in John (John 3 and 4), paying careful attention to the use of literary forms (e.g. irony and metaphor).
  • apply selected aspects of the Farewell discourses (John 14-16), such as the teaching on life after death (John 14), the true vine (John 15) and the Holy Spirit (John 14,16), to the challenges facing the modern Christian community.
  • complete a research paper on one aspect of the teaching of Jesus in context illustrating both the understanding of the original context of Jesus and its application to the context of the modern Christian community.