Encountering the New Testament, 4th Edition

A Historical and Theological Survey

series: Encountering Biblical Studies

Materials available for professors by request only


11. The Modern Study of the Gospels

Discussion Questions

  1. How did the Gospel of John’s historical value become disregarded?
  2. How did the Marcan Hypothesis develop and what is its significance?
  3. What place is given to the writers of the Gospels by the form critics?
  4. What was the major focus of the form critics?
  5. Which method of criticism—source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, literary criticism—do you find to be the least tenable and why?

Assignment Ideas / Class Activities

  1. Use a world map to show how higher criticism developed in different parts of the world.
  2. Divide the class into pairs. Have each pair discuss the Synoptic Problem and find one significant fact about it to present in a feedback session.
  3. Read a statement from a current periodical (e.g., Christianity Today) that refers to criticism. Conduct a discussion with the class about the pros and cons of the article.
  4. Assign a group to present a panel discussion on how source criticism developed.
  5. Present a discussion that focuses on scholars grouped by country of origin that demonstrates how higher criticism developed geographically. Include the reasons for this pattern’s emergence.
  6. Develop a chart to present to the class that shows the steps in form criticism. Provide an example of each step.
  7. Make a study of literary criticism and present findings to the class in a round table discussion format. Include structuralism, narrative criticism, reader–response theory, rhetorical criticism, and deconstructionism. Present an explanation of each type, an illustration, and an evangelical response to it.
  8. Select one of the problematic passages in the Gospels that Augustine addressed in The Harmony of the Gospels. Compare his treatment of the passage with that of two others, including one modern historical critic. Conclude with your own evaluation of these treatments.