Religion & Philosophy at Lyon College

New Testament
Study Guide on Gospels & Acts

1. Whom do scholars generally think that Mark's gospel was written for?

2. When was Mark's gospel probably written? What would have been going on among Mark's original readers at that time?

3. What is the significance of the first verse of Mark's gospel?

4. What is the basic structure of Mark's gospel?

5. Why do most scholars think that Mark 16:9-20 was not written by the author of the gospel?

6. What is the "messianic secret"? How might it be related to the theme of the first half of the gospel?

7. What are some of the major ironies or tensions presented in the first half of the gospel? What ironies and tensions do we see in the second half? Be prepared to discuss the meaning of the rabbinical debates Jesus has in the Temple.

8. What is the climax of the first half of the gospel? What is the climax of the second half of the gospel? What is the significance of the ending of the gospel? What seems to be the theme of the gospel?

9. When do scholars generally think that the Gospel of Matthew was written? For whom? Where? What was probably going on at that time in that community?

10. What is the theological significance of the five part structure of the gospel?

11. Be able to explain how various passages -- e.g., the mention of women in the genealogy, and the sermon on the mount -- attempt to present Jesus as the fulfillment of Jewish hope and the new Moses. How might this theme of fulfillment be related to the historical situation in which this gospel was written?

12. What is the significance of the phrase "kingdom of heaven" vs. "kingdom of God" in the Gospel of Matthew?

13. What is meant by the "law and the prophets"?

14. Be prepared to discuss the differences between the birth stories in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke, literarily, thematically, and in terms of sources.

15. When do scholars generally think that the Gospel of Luke was written? For whom? Where?

16. What is meant by the title "Universal Christ/Christ of the Marginalized"? In what way does this title fit the Gospel of Luke's portrayal of Jesus?

17. How is the theme of universalism/marginalized illustrated in this gospel? E.g., what stories or Lukan versions of stories point to this theme (e.g., be able to discuss Mary's song, Jesus' first sermon, what the Jubilee is, etc.). Be prepared to discuss the meaning of stories such as the prodigal son and the good Samaritan in light of this theme.

18. How is the theme of social justice for the oppressed illustrated in this gospel? Again, especially be prepared to compare Lukan versions of stories with Matthew or Mark.

19. How is the importance of women illustrated?

20. How is Acts similar to ancient histories?   Be prepared to discuss the parallels between the Gospel of Luke and Acts.

21. What seems to be the importance of the Holy Spirit for the author of Luke-Acts? Be able to give specific examples.  What is the importance of the journey motif in Luke? Give specific examples.

22. When do scholars generally think the Gospel of John was written? By whom? For whom? What were the issues or problems which may have been going on in the community of the first readers?

23. What are the major similarities between the Gospel of John and the synoptic gospels? What are the major differences?

24. What is christology? What sort of christology do we find in the Gospel of John as compared to the other gospels?

25. What is gnosticism? What are some of their major beliefs? What things in the Gospel of John suggest gnostic influence? In what way can the gospel be understood as a refutation of gnosticism?

26. What are the connotations of the term "word" or "logos" in the Gospel of John? How does "logos" relate to "sophia"?

27. What are some of the theories about who the "beloved disciple" was?

28. What are the similarities and differences between the four gospels. Be sure to talk about specific examples in each gospel, authorship & audience, and views of the nature of Christ.

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