Subject Code THL208

Subject Name The Synoptic Gospels

Duration One semester

Availability Semester 1 each year

Level Intermediate

Subject Units 8

Core/Elective Elective

Delivery Mode Face to face at St Francis College – the Brisbane Campus for CSU School of Theology and Canberra Internal

Student Workload

Contact hours 3-4 hours per week Reading, study and preparation 3-4 hours per week Assignment preparation 3-4 hours per week

TOTAL: 160 hours in the semester

Prerequisites Students are recommended to have prior knowledge equivalent to or studied THL106.

Incompatible Subjects Not applicable.


This subject investigates the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke as literary expressions of the development of early Christianity from its roots in Judaism. It explores these three Gospels in their historical, literary, socio-cultural and religious contexts. It assesses these Gospels as sources for understanding Jesus and also probes the puzzle of their interrelations. On a rotating basis, one of these Gospels provides the focus for detailed study of literary, historical and theological issues germane to its interpretation.

Prescribed Text

Charles B. Puskas and David Crump, An Introduction to the Gospels and Acts. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.


This subject will cover the following topics:

• Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels

• Gospel genre and other gospels

• The Synoptic Gospels in their historical, socio-cultural and religious


• The relationship between the historical Jesus and Synoptic portraits of


• The Synoptic problem: the relations between the Synoptic Gospels

• Distinctive features of the Synoptic Gospels

• Authorship, date, provenance and patristic traditions regarding one

Synoptic Gospel

• Literary structure, key themes and interpretive challenges of one

Synoptic Gospel

• Close reading of a key text(s) from one Synoptic Gospel

• Jesus according to Matthew, Mark or Luke

• Study of one Synoptic Gospel as a response to its social, cultural and

religious milieu

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

• be able to discuss in a critically informed way issues relating to the

interpretation of the Synoptic Gospels;

• be able to demonstrate an understanding of the historical, socio-

cultural and religious contexts of the Synoptic Gospels and their

relationship to contemporary writings;

• be able to discuss critically scholarly methods of Gospel analysis such

as form, source, redaction and narrative criticism;

• be able to articulate a critical understanding of scholarly assessments

of the relations between the Synoptic Gospels;

• be able to discuss major theological and ethical themes in the Synoptic

Gospels and assess their contemporary relevance;

• be able to demonstrate developing competence in the exegesis and

interpretation of biblical texts and critical engagement with primary

biblical sources and secondary literature; and

• be able to demonstrate self-guided learning, including sound research,

writing and communication skills.

Assessment Tasks

There are two assessment tasks, each worth 50%.

• A research essay on a topic related to the Synoptic Gospels generally, with the option to explore Gospel genre, to consider the value of the Gospel of Thomas, or to undertake an exercise in comparative Gospel analysis. 2,000 words. 50%

• An exegetical paper on a passage from the Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, or Luke, depending on which is the focus Gospel for the year. 2,000 words. 50%