The Synoptic Gospels TRS 607

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  • Class: The Synoptic Gospels TRS 607
  • Professor: John P. Heil
  • Taken: Fall 2016 WeFr 11:10AM - 12:25PM Caldwell 451 08/31/2015 - 12/19/2015
  • Description Description: An introduction to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. After a discussion of the synoptic problem and the nature of the Gospel material, each Gospel is studied in terms of its historical setting and theology.

Class materials on CUA Blackboard

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  • TRS 607: The Synoptic Gospels
  • Semester: Fall 2016 – W, F – 11:10 – 12:25 – Caldwell 504
  • Office Hours: after class and by appointment
  • Professor: Rev. Dr. John Paul Heil, S.S.D. (
  • Course Goals and Envisioned Outcomes:
    1. Introduction to the current state of research on the Synoptic Gospels, including an understanding of the apocalyptic-eschatological framework and Old Testament background.
    2. Exegetical presentation of the Synoptic Gospels including the Acts of the Apostles, following a literary-rhetorical, audience-oriented method, aimed at giving the student the ability to interpret these texts for use in preaching and pastoral ministry.
    3. An ability to articulate the major theological themes and concepts of the Synoptic Gospels.
  • Classroom Procedure, Attendance and Grading:
    1. The course will be conducted on Blackboard. The pass/fail assignments are to be posted in the appropriate Forum on the Discussion Board on Blackboard. Graded assignments are to be sent to the professor by email as a Word document. The exegesis papers are to be sent to the professor by email and also posted on Blackboard as a Word document.
    2. Preparation, attendance and active participation is expected for every class session. Students who must be absent from class should inform the professor in advance. Otherwise they should explain the reason for their absence as soon as possible. Official documentation signed by a CUA or other recognized authority is needed for an absence to be excused. N. B.: Beginning with the 4th unexcused absence the final grade will be lowered one level and then lowered an additional level for each additional unexcused absence.
    3. Students must be aware of and comply with the University’s policy on student academic integrity. The professor is available to explain the policy to any student who requests it.
    4. Grades are based on the successful completion of all pass/fail assignments and on the three graded assignments: mid-term exam (1/3), exegesis paper (1/3), and final exam (1/3). After completing the pass/fail assignments assume that you have passed unless informed otherwise. N.B.: The professor will be unable to preview exams or papers before they are submitted for grading. The highest grade possible for any graded assignment submitted late is C.
  • Required Reading:
    • Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament: Third Edition. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8006-6361-2. pp. 1-222.
    • Matera, Frank J. New Testament Theology: Exploring Diversity and Unity. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2007. ISBN 978-0-664-23044-9. pp. 1-97.
  • Recommended Reading:
    • Heil, John Paul. The Death and Resurrection of Jesus: A Narrative-Critical Reading of Matthew 26-28. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991.
    • ---. The Gospel of Mark as a Model for Action: A Reader-Response Commentary. New York/Mahwah: Paulist, 1992.
    • ---. Matthew`s Parables: Audience-Oriented Perspectives. Co-author: Warren Carter. CBQMS 30. Washington: Catholic Biblical Association, 1998.
    • ---. The Meal Scenes in Luke-Acts: An Audience-Oriented Approach. Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series 52. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1999.
    • Boxall, Ian. Discovering Matthew: Content, Interpretation, Reception. London: SPCK, 2014.
  • Recommended Commentaries:
    • Gospel of Matthew
      • Byrne, Brendan, Lifting the Burden: Reading Matthew’s Gospel in the Church Today. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2004.
      • France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. NICNT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.
      • Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text. NIGNT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.
      • Turner, David L. Matthew. BECNT. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008.
      • Osborne, Grant R. Matthew. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.
    • Gospel of Mark
      • Byrne, Brendan, A Costly Freedom: A Theological Reading of Mark’s Gospel. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008.
      • Collins, Adela Yarbro. Mark: A Commentary. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2007.
      • France, R. T. The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text. NIGNT. Grand Rapids: Eermans, 2002.
      • Stein, Robert H. Mark. BECNT. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008.
    • Gospel of Luke
      • Bock, Darrell L. Luke. 2 vols. BECNT. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996.
      • Carroll, John T. Luke: A Commentary. NTL. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2012.
      • Edwards, James R. The Gospel according to Luke. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015.
      • Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.
      • Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. NICNT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.
    • Acts of the Apostles
      • Bock, Darrell L. Acts. BECNT. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007.
      • Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Acts of the Apostles. AB 31. New York: Doubleday, 1998.
      • Keener, Craig S. Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: Volume 1: Introduction and 1:1-2:47. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012.
      • ---. Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: Volume 2: 3:1-14:28. Grand Rapids, Baker, 2013.
      • ---. Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: Volume 3: 15:1-23:35. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2014.
      • ---. Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: Volume 4: 24:1-28:31. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015.
      • Peterson, David G. The Acts of the Apostles. PNTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.
      • Schnabel, Eckhard J. Acts. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.


  1. Before noon on September 13 post the text selection for your paper in the Discussion Board on Blackboard. No text may be selected more than once. Selections will be listed in Course Documents.
  2. Before noon on September 27 respond on Blackboard to the readings from Johnson, pp. 1-222, and Matera, pp. 1-97.
  3. Before noon on October 18 email to the professor as a Word document an essay of not more than 1500 words coherently, concisely yet comprehensively summarizing the implied audience’s expected responses to the narrative-rhetorical strategies and themes of Matthew and Mark, based on the class lectures.
  4. Before noon on November 15 email to the professor your exegesis paper of not more than 12 pages as a Word document and post it on Blackboard as an attachment.
  5. Before noon on December 13 email to the professor as a Word document an essay of not more than 1500 words coherently, concisely yet comprehensively summarizing the implied audience’s expected responses to the narrative-rhetorical strategies and themes of Luke-Acts, based on the class lectures.

Select the text, a short unit of a few verses from any of the NT writings presented in this course, and post your choice in the forum on Blackboard. Since no text may be chosen more than once, selection is on a first-come basis and subject to the professor’s approval.


Assemble as comprehensive a scholarly bibliography as you can on your text including major commentaries, monographs/books, and journal articles. For the paper’s bibliography include all of the works cited in the paper (do not include bible translations or standard reference works). You may find New Testament Abstracts, the various library search tools, and biblical websites as well as recent commentaries helpful for the bibliography. For the style of the bibliography and notes follow the CBQ “Instructions for Contributors” based on the Chicago Manual of Style (on CBA website and in Course Documents on Blackboard) or The SBL Handbook of Style: Second Edition. Atlanta: SBL, 2014.


The exegesis paper should be no longer than 12 pages in length, including the footnotes and bibliography. The main text of the paper should be in 12 point font and double spaced. Footnotes should be in 10 point font and single spaced. Bibliographic entries should be in 12 point font and single spaced with an extra space between each entry. Pagination should be upper right; bottom center for first page only. Begin with a very brief summary of recent scholarly publication on your text (State of the Research). This is to be followed by your own audience-oriented exegesis with the aid of research.

    • The exegesis paper should include a treatment of the following:
      1. Literary Structure: The literary structure of the text, how it is broken down into its smallest structural units, should serve as the guide for the exegesis by providing the format for explaining and commenting on the structural units in a verse by verse or unit by unit fashion. For the exegesis be sure to include a treatment of the previous context heard by the audience of the text.
      2. Meaning: This consists of the actual exegesis or audience-oriented analysis through a consideration, as needed, of such items as textual criticism, vocabulary, grammar, literary genre, rhetorical devices, narrative function and context, historical-cultural background, Old Testament background, etc. In other words, this involves whatever helps to explain what the text actually says or expresses for its implied audience. The focus should always be the responses of the audience to the individual structural units as they unfold and progress when the text is heard.
      3. Pragmatics: This represents the interpretive conclusion or results of the audience-oriented exegesis. It summarizes what the text as a whole does to and how it affects its implied audience, what it is intended to accomplish as a process of communication and model for action. It includes the pragmatic value of the text for audiences of today, presenting the specific and unique messages and contributions of this particular text.

Course Schedule

Part One: The Gospels of Matthew and Mark

  • 1. 8/31: Introduction to the Course and Matthew 1
  • 2. 9/2: Matthew 2-4
  • 3. 9/7: Matthew 5-7
  • 4. 9/9: Matthew 8-10
  • 5. 9/14: Matthew 11-13
  • 6. 9/16: Matthew 14-16
  • 7. 9/21: Matthew 17-20
  • 8. 9/33: Matthew 21-24
  • 9. 9/28: Matthew 25-28
  • 10. 9/30: Mark 1-4
  • 11. 10/5: Mark 5-8
  • 12. 10/7: Mark 9-12
  • 13. 10/12: Mark 13-16 (Exam due before noon on Tuesday, October 18)

Part Two: The Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles

  • 14. 10/14: Luke 1-3
  • 15. 10/19: Luke 4-7
  • 16. 10/21: Luke 8-11
  • 17. 10/26: Luke 12-15
  • 18. 10/28: Luke 16-19
  • 19. 11/2: Luke 20-23
  • 20. 11/4: Luke 24; Acts 1-2
  • 21. 11/9: Acts 3-6
  • 22. 11/11: Acts 7-10 (Paper due before noon on Tuesday, November 15)
  • 23. 11/16: Acts 11-14
  • 24. 11/18: Acts 15-18
  • 25. 11/30: Acts 19-22
  • 26. 12/2: Acts 23-26
  • 27. 12/7: Acts 27-28
  • 28. 12/9: Conclusion and Course Evaluation

Final Exam Due before Noon on Tuesday, December 13.