MAT New Testament Exam

The theology department faculty wants to make sure that students who earn the advanced degree Master of Arts in Theology have mastered core aspects of a given discipline within theology. In general, as you prepare the essay questions, remind yourself not to overdo it. When I read your essay I cannot expect tremendous detail and nuance at every turn. Rather, I am looking for a thoughtful response to the essay question that shows you are an informed interpreter of the foundational texts of the Christian faith. The essay is not graded. Work from an outline and be sure to answer each sentence of the question.


Paul Question tips:


Click on the links below for handouts and academic websites on this topic:

A sketch of Paul & the critical use of sources.

How to proceed when studying the apostle Paul?

Paul's "gospel."

"The Paul Page" online: The New Perspective on Paul (post-Sanders era).

Recommended short overviews to help you prepare:

Marion Soards, The Apostle Paul. An Introduction to his Writings and Teaching (Minneapolis: Paulist, 1986). See pages 7-10 for critical use of the primary sources.

Calvin Roetzel, Paul. A Jew on the Margins (Westminster John Knox, 2003). See chapter 2 "Paul as Mother" for help with nuancing the matter of conversion. 


Gospel Question tips:


Recommended short overviews to help you prepare:

Synoptic Problem online overview (Felix Just, S.J., online resources).

Gospel themes (theological, literary; Felix Just). Once there, scroll down.

Mark Allen Powell, Fortress Introduction to the Gospels (Fortress, 1998). See the appropriate chapter, Mark or John, for an excellent, user-friendly overview of basic historical context issues, as well as key characteristics and themes in the respective Gospel.

An annotated Study Bible. Suggestions: The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. College Edition (Oxford University Press). The New American Bible annotated study Bible = Catholic Study Bible (Oxford University Press). Harper Collins Study Bible. New Revised Standard Version. Use the Introduction to the Gospel for additional help with basic historical context.

Rhoads, Dewey, and Michie, Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel (2nd edition; Fortress Press, 1999). If you choose Mark's Gospel, you might find something in this book helpful, but it is not necessary that you use this book at all. Powell's short book above is sufficient. This book is a more sophisticated introduction to literary analysis of a Gospel.

Sandra M. Schneiders, Written That You May Believe. Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (Crossroad, 1999; revised and expanded edition, 2003). If you choose the Fourth Gospel, you may well choose to draw on a theme from this excellent book. It's your call entirely. I always still use Schneiders. I also use Robert Kysar, John the Maverick Gospel (New Revised Edition; Westminster John Knox, 2007). If you choose the Fourth Gospel, it would not hurt to take a peek at Kysar, but it is not necessary. Powell's overview is sufficient.  


Historical Jesus Question tips:


Recommended short overviews to help you prepare:

Historical Jesus core facts overview.

Historical Jesus articles from NT Gateway.

Historical Jesus reconstructions online overview: Borg, Meier, N.T. Wright, et al.

Mark Allen Powell, Fortress Introduction to the Gospels (Fortress, 1998). See chapter 1 "From Jesus to Us" for help with the Synoptic Problem and the transmission from Jesus to the Gospels.

Mark Allen Powell, Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee (Westminster John Knox, 1998). See chapter 2 on Sources and Criteria for help with the criteria of historicity. A handout also was provided in class on the criteria of historicity.See page 117 for a good list of core facts from the great Historical Jesus scholar, E.P. Sanders. To compare and contrast two scholars, pick two from those listed in Powell's book and go to town.   

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