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Please organize your work according to the numbered sections below, synthesizing your knowledge around a well chosen passage. Due dates of first drafts of parts this assignment have specific, different due dates. The final draft of the whole assignment (all 4 sections) is due Monday, May 7, by 11:55 p.m. (I have room for a few extensions, for those who sign up for one during the last week of classes).

Note: for those who make/attend an appointment with me to help you identify a good passage and plan for this project, before (or on) April 11 will earn 1 bonus point, added to the assignment total.

1. Broad Topic and Passage:

  1. Identify a broad topic about Jesus, related to the sections/themes you have focused on this semester. (For example: Jesus and John the Baptist, Jesus and his mother, Jesus and the Poor, Jesus’s Parables about Seeds, Jesus and the Blind, Jesus’s Teachings on Marriage and Divorce, Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Jesus and Pontius Pilate, Jesus and the Empty Tomb).
  2. Select and type out (or copy/paste) an NRSV version of a passage that is well connected to your topic (about 10-15 verses). (You can use your ability to keyword search on bible.oremus.org to help you find a good passage, though you should have some good ideas in mind from your group work). If you chose well, the work should be familiar to you (or visit me during office hours and I will gladly suggest passages that might fit your interests.) Offer a few sentences explaining why you chose the topic and passage (especially noting what is interesting about it). ______/5

Copy/paste from


Include book, chapter, verses

Comment why you picked it (or what you find interesting about it).

2. Context: Gospel Author/Audience, Historical, Literary

  1. Gospel Author, Different Gospel Contexts: How your passage shaped by the special concerns of the gospel author? (For example, if your passage is in Mark, does you passage reflect some of Mark’s themes or Mark’s style?). How does your passage fit within the way the gospel author has organized the material? (E.g. is it a parable in Luke’s big block of parables told “on the journey” to Jerusalem?) Check the “parallel translations” to see if your passage has parallels in other gospels. Comment, in 3-5 sentences, on if/how it shifts according to the different character of the 4 gospels or the particular context of the gospel author). Consult the gospel outlines provided (or the introductory material in the Oxford Study Bible). _______/5

Rubric – show off what you know about your Gospel author’s themes, or differences between Gospels.

Use your:

  • “Gospel Comparisons” handout and
  • accompanying packet (4 gospels lined up in parallel columns)

to compare your passage to corresponding passages. (can look up online here: http://www.bible-researcher.com/parallels.html#sect4

OR, if passage is from Mark or John, use your Mark Gospel Outline or John’s Gospel outline to discuss how your passage fits your gospel. Outlines for Matthew and Luke are also posted.

3. Historical Probability:

  1. In one paragraph comment on whether or not the events or teachings in your passage are historically more or less probable (using the criteria you learned to apply during our “historical Jesus” assignment). Use your packet of the gospels in 4 columns (the “parallel translation”) and Meier’s criteria to notice the differences and to decide whether your passage is historically probable, possible, or not probable. You should have a copy of your packet, and to the left I provided a link where you can look up your passage. I can also look passages up for you in my book, if needed. Briefly explain the 2 criteria you used to evaluate historical probability. _________/10

Rubric: 10=clearly discusses, explains and correctly applies at least 2 criteria to the passage.



to discuss whether or not your passage is historically probable.

Apply at least 2 of Meier’s criteria to the passage

You can review “Meier’s criteria” using:

  • handout posted called “Meier Historical Jesus,” or
  • the “Historical Jesus” assignment, or
  • look up Rausch’s 2 page discussion of it.

4. Central Theological Issues:

Briefly explain the theological issues associated with your passage. Your goal is to demonstrate how well you know this material from the class, and how well you can apply it to your passage. For example:

  1. In a paragraph, connect your topic and passage to central arguments from the Rausch chapter you outlined (different groups were assigned chapters 4-7 – and one chapter from Bauckham was provided as an alternate). For example, highlight how your passage conveys a key theme of that chapter, or discuss what issues Rausch says are involved in interpreting a passage like yours (e.g. what extremes should we try to avoid when interpreting a miracle story?), or discuss the theological ideas engaged in your passage (e.g. the righteous one who suffers unjustly).
  2. Work with Bible Oremus’s keyword search function to notice keywords in your passage and how they connect to other relevant passages
  3. _______/10

Rubric: 10=You showcased your understanding of your Rausch chapter, especially main themes and distinctions, and thoughtfully connected your passage to material discussed by Rausch. You found a useful way to explore your passage through the keyword search function.

  1. Show off your knowledge from the chapter of Rausch that applies to your passage. Show you know main topics and sections from the chapter. Be able to connect your passage to chapter.
  2. Demonstrate your ability to look for keywords and to produce and discuss and interesting keyword search. (Use the bottom search function on bible.oremus.org).

5. Modern Theological Issues:

  1. In Consider Jesus, Elizabeth Johnson outlines many of the questions and concerns that animate the modern study of Jesus.In a paragraph, Identify and briefly discuss a way in which your passage is connected to one of the modern issues she discusses (typically, this will mean connecting your passage to one of her chapters, probably especially of of chapters 6-9). For almost all of these chapters, we will also read another reading/handout as a primary text. Please also consider the relevant primary text in your discussion of a modern theological issue. One of the modern theological issues we will explore in some extra detail is interfaith dialogue, and we can dialogue across religious differences. One approach you could take would be to connect your passage to one of the ways a different religious tradition views Jesus. (Another possible approach here, for those particularly good at this sort of analysis, would be to look at a scene from one of the modern plays/musicals about Jesus to explore how modern concerns shape the treatment of the topic related to Jesus). ________/10

10=Full understanding of a chapter of Johnson (and connected texts, such as views from other religions, or views from one of the theatrical productions we discussed). Able to address main themes, able to quote text in connection to passage.

Connect your passage to 1 of the chapters from Consider Jesus. (Typically chapter 6, 7, 8, or 9, but chapters 2 and 3 are possible choices too).

Show off your knowledge of that chapter (and perhaps also the example used to illustrate it – like one of the film clips, or some of the discussions of Jesus from different religious perspectives).

(There is no excuse for sloppiness here, even if you didn’t buy the book, because all the slides are on Moodle).

6. Your audience:

  1. The Gospels authors wrote for specific audiences, to communicate an important message across to that audience about Jesus. They used the special fears and interests and knowledge of their audience to shape their message. Similarly, when particular audiences read a text from particular perspectives they can read with special concerns and with special insights (for example, one might read with concern for women, or for children, or for the practice of slavery, or concerned about inclusion, or concerned about judging other religions, or concerned about assumptions about sexuality). Imagine trying to discuss a message from your passage to a particular group. What are the interests, fears, and knowledge of your audience? How will you use that to connect your passage’s message to them? _________/10

Be creative, imagine you are talking to a specific audience about your passage. Describe their specific interests and how you would connect your passage to these interests (for example, if your passage was Jesus’ teaching on divorce and you had to talk to children of divorced parents, what would you say?)

7. Research and prepare to write:

  1. Describe the keywords you used to find your sources on ATLA (find the ATLA database through the King’s library, article search, here: http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/search/selectdb?vid=0&sid=a7f855ed-a511-45b5-8b93-b0cfc9845ebe%40sessionmgr4006) . _______/10
  2. Locate and upload to Moodle 3 ATLA library sources to help you study your research topic (as you defined in #1), ____________/10
  3. Identify the main argument of each source and note how it could contribute to your research topic. __________________/10
  4. Write your own thesis statement and introductory paragraph to your research paper, stating what you will cover ________________/10
  5. Using your sources, complete your paper in outline/bullet point format. From your library sources, quote at least 6 pieces of evidence/quotes (2 quotes from each of the 3 articles) and explain how they would would help you DEFEND or EVALUATE your thesis (these can be completed in bullet point format). . _______________/10
  6. due in final form.
  7. __________/50. (See rubric breakdown below).

Demonstrate you can find, read, and understand 3 scholarly articles about your passage. (Try your passage reference first, e.g. “Mark 5:1-20”)

Construct your own argument (in bullet point form) using good “evidence” (quotes) from the article.

*Reminder: You will also be asked to present, as a “short in class assignment” (not as part of the final project grade) a 2 minute summary on the most interesting ideas you learned from your research (most will be scheduled in class on May 1, a few possibly for those with class on May 3).

Short Version Rubric for use in Moodle Grading (50% for first questions, 50% for research paper)

  1. Topic/passage: /5
  2. Context: /5
  3. Historical Probability: /10
  4. Central Theological Issues: /10
  5. Modern Theological Issues: /10
  6. Your audience: /10
  7. Research Paper: ( /50).

(____sources, ______thesis and intro, ____article arguments, ______6 pieces evidence)

  • 3-5 approved library sources uploaded to Moodle, used wll in the paper, properly cited in Chicago or MLA style, ____________/10 Due April 24.
  • Identify the main argument of each source and note how it could contribute to your research topic. __________________/10
  • Write your own thesis statement and introductory paragraph to your research paper, stating what you will cover ________________/10
  • Using your sources, complete your paper in outline/bullet point format. From your library sources, quote at least 6 pieces of evidence and explain how they would would help you DEFEND or EVALUATE your thesis (these /20
  • Extra Credit: . /

How to Find Scholarly Sources: (2 Methods)

Method 1: Articles Online:Go to the library’s WebPage (under “MyKing’s” then “Resources”). Click on “find articles” and then “Ebsco Host Databases.” Select both the “ATLA Catholic” and “ATLA Religion” Databases. Use keywords to search (this takes a few tries). You can “limit” your search (down the left side) to “linked full text” (this means you can get the electronic article with the citation) and to “peer-reviewed.” (I recommend email the articles to yourself, then you have a record of the article, the ability to forward to me, to print and reprint, etc.). This method is great that it can be done from home, but it can be harder to sort through these articles to find a good one. For the option below, you have to go to the library, but it is pretty easy to get a source.

It can take a while to find good keywords to produce a useful search. You might try having “Jesus” on one line and the other element of your topic in another search field (e.g. “lepers” or “Magdalene”). You have to experiment with different versions of the word, or you might have to try naming topics more specifically (to narrow down your results) or more generally, to get any results at all.

Method 2: Scholarly Commentaries (and Bible Dictionary)—ACUTAL BOOKS!!!

All of the following commentaries are in the King’s College Library (mostly in the Reference Collection, 1st floor). Commentaries in the Reference collection cannot be removed from the library. This makes them easy to find and always available, you can simply photocopy the few pages that you need. You can also find good individual commentaries in the basement, look them up online, or browse the shelves around call number 220.7. Do not use anything older than 1960. I find the longer the commentary you can get on a passage, the better your chances of doing well on the paper (because you easily find enough material).

Short Commentaries

  • The New Jerome Biblical commentary / edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Roland E. Murphy ; with a foreword by Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ : Prentice-Hall, 1990. Call #: 220.7 B814J1 Reference Collection – 1st Floor

  • The Collegeville Bible commentary : based on the New American Bible with revised New Testament / general editors, Dianne Bergant, Robert J. Karris.

Collegeville, Minn. : Liturgical Press, 1989. Call #: 220.7 C686C Reference Collection – 1st Floor

  • [a little too short] Oxford Bible commentary / edited by John Barton and John Muddiman.

New York : Oxford University Press, 2001. Call #: 220.7 Ox2O Reference Collection – 1st Floor

Multi-volume Commentary

  • The New Interpreter’s Bible : general articles & introduction, commentary, & reflections for each book of the Bible, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books. Nashville : Abingdon Press, 1994- Call # 220.7 L454I3 Reference Collection – 1st Floor

Do NOT use Matthew Henry’s Devotional Commentary (found on websites like BibleGateway. I only want scholarly sources, not devotional ones).

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