Encountering the New Testament, 4th Edition

A Historical and Theological Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies

Materials available for professors by request only


10. Modern Approaches to the New Testament

Discussion Questions

  1. What consideration should be given to modern findings and theories about the New Testament?
  2. In what ways are New Testament writings better than other writings?
  3. How did Voltaire through his writings encourage skepticism about the Bible?
  4. Should we pay any attention to historical criticism? Why?
  5. How would it be possible to rule out the influence of “divine agency” and still do justice to the New Testament?
  6. What is meant by the term “hermeneutics”? Cite some illustrations.
  7. If understanding of the New Testament can only be accomplished by hermeneutics, of what value can the New Testament be for the average lay person?
  8. What are some examples of the historical-theological approach to biblical interpretation?

Assignment Ideas / Class Activities

  1. Develop a chart with the class on the topic “Pros and Cons of Historical Criticism.” Elicit the pros and cons from the class as you write it.
  2. Divide the class into groups. Assign each group the task of finding biblical examples of progressive revelation. Conduct a sharing session of the findings at the end of class.
  3. Focus on aims for studying the Bible by asking students what their aim was for studying it in different situations. Using their responses, classify the aims into categories such as self-application, devotional, doxological, missiological, and so on.
  4. Have a group conduct research to find criticism lodged against historical criticism by the critics themselves. Prepare a list of these to be duplicated and distributed to all the students.
  5. Assign a group the task of explaining the importance of literary form (or genre) to biblical interpretation. Have illustrations of history, poetry, proverb, narrative, and sermon. Have the group present their findings to the class.
  6. Have students write papers addressing the issue of discrepancies between parallel narratives focusing on a single narrative. Resolve the problem.