This module explores the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel according to St John from an Orthodox perspective, with the intention of enabling students to develop an understanding of the historical context and theology(ies) of the Synoptic Gospels and that of St John.
The module aims to dedicate particular attention to understanding the writings of Evangelist John within the Orthodox tradition. It intends to do this by identifying and reflecting on some of the principal theological themes and questions of the Johannine writings.
Finally, the module will entertain the question how can modern biblical scholarship be useful to Christian believers wishing to grow closer to the Gospel text.
Lecture 1 - The Synoptic Gospels: Introduction
Students are introduced into the question of how Gospels should be studied. We touch on such methods as form criticism, narrative criticism. Special attention is given to the so-called “Synoptic Problem”. These methods are critically exposed in the light of an Orthodox approach.
Sanders and Davies: Studying the Synoptic Gospels
Stanton: The Gospels and Jesus
Fr John Florovsky: Bible Church Tradition (Chapter 1)
Fr John Breck: Orthodoxy and the Bible Today
Fr Demetrios Bathrellos: The Eastern Orthodox Tradition for Today and the Bible
Vesselin Kesich: The Gospel Image of Christ (Chapter 2)
Fr George Florovsky: The Lost Scriptural Mind
Fr George Florovsky: The Function of Tradition in the Ancient Church
- Stanton Graham, The Gospels and Jesus (Oxford, 1989).
- Sanders E.P. and Davies M., Studying the Synoptic Gospels (London, 1989).
- Tuckett, C. M. (ed.) Synoptic Studies (Sheffield, 1984).
Lecture 2 - The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of St Matthew is examined in a way that focuses on its treatment of the Jewish roots of Christianity. Students will be introduced to an Orthodox approach to Matthean theology: how does Christ “fulfil the Law and the Prophets” according to St Matthew?
- The Ascetic Ideal and the New Testament: Reflections on the Critique of the Theology of the Reformation
- The Sermon on the Mount
- Vesselin Kesich: The Gospel Image of Christ, Chapter
- Kingsbury, J.D., Matthew: Structure, Christology, and Kingdom (London, 1976)
- Meier J. P., The Vision of Matthew: Christ, Church and Morality in the First Gospel (New York, 1979)
- Hill D., The Gospel of Matthew (London, 1972).
- Beare F.W., The Gospel according to Matthew (Oxford, 1981).
Lecture 3 - The Gospel of Mark
The lecture studies theological traits of St Mark’s account, attempting in an Orthodox way to answer questions raised by modern scholarship, such as the so-called Messianic secret (W. Wrede) and others.
- Best E., Mark — the Gospel as Story (Edinburgh 1983).
- Best E., Following Jesus: Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark (Sheffield, 1981)
- Hooker M., The Message of Mark (London, 1983)
- Nineham D. E., The Gospel of St Mark (Harmondsworth, 1963).
- Schweizer E., The Good News according to Mark (London, 1971).
Lecture 4 - The Gospel of Luke
Major theological themes of St Luke’s Gospel are examined, such as St Luke’s emphasis on the Holy Spirit, his universalism, his view of history, as well as his concern for women, the poor, outcasts and sinners.
Stanton: The Gospels and Jesus
- Barrett C. K., Luke the Historian in Recent Study (London, 1961).
- Conzelmann H., The Theology of St Luke (London, 1960).
- Marshall I.H., Luke, Historian and Theologian (Exeter, 1970).
- Caird G.B., Saint Luke (Harmondsworth, 1963).
- Firzmayer J. A., The Gospel according to Luke (New York, 1981-1985).
Lecture 5a - The Parables
Why did Christ speak in parables? The lecture examines this main form of Christ’s teaching. We shall look for an Orthodox answer to the question of the purpose and nature of Christ’s parables.
- Dodd C. H., The Parables of the Kingdom (London, 1935).
- Drury J., The Parables in the Gospels (London, 1985).
- Jeremias J., The Parables of Jesus (London, 1963).
- Hendrickx H., The Parables of Jesus (London, 1986).
- Breech J., The Silence of Jesus. The Authentic Voice of the Historical Man (Philadelphia 1983)
- Jones G. V., The Art and Truth of the Parables : a Study in Their Literary Form and Modern Interpretation (London, 1964)
Lecture 5b- Miracles
We also consider the theological function of Christ’s miracles as it is understood by the Synoptic writers.
Lecture 6 - The Synoptic Gospels - Eschatology
The lecture introduces students to the field of recent biblical studies on St John. It considers the methods of the historical approach such as form and redaction criticism, as well as narrative criticism, with particular attention to the theories about Johannine community developed by R. Brown and L. Martyn. The critical evaluation of these methods from the Orthodox point of view produces a set of assumptions essential for an Orthodox approach to the Gospel.
- The Eschatological Expectation of the Church
- Fr Nikolai Sakharov: Lecture Handout- Eschatology in the Synoptic Gospels
- Fr George Florovsky: The Last Things and the Last Events
- Moore A.L., The Parousia in the New Testament (Leiden, 1966).
- Culmann O., Salvation in History (London, 1967).
- Conzelmann H., The Theology of St Luke (London, 1960)
- Meier J. P., Matthew (1985)
Lecture 7 - The Gospel of John
This presentation briefly explores Incarnational Christology (with particular attention to the Prologue and concept of the Logos), and highlights the intensive Johannine interest in the personhood of Christ, focusing on the concept of the “Lamb of God”. It further examines the “relational” aspect of Johannine Christology and Triadology (the concept of the Paraclete receives special attention).
- Kysar R., The Maverick Gospel (Atlanta, 1993).
- Koester C. R., Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel (Minneapolis, 2003).
- Lindars Barnabas, John (Sheffield, 1990).
- Smailey S., John – Evangelist and Interpreter (Exeter, 1983).
Lecture 8 - The Christology of John's Gospel
Here we look at Johannine ethics with their focus on “personalistic righteousness”, thus explaining the difference of presentation when compared with the Synoptic Gospels. It focuses on St John’s language of stories and personages, which serve as hypostatic paradigms. It further examines the paradigms of righteousness and discipleship (Peter, Beloved Disciple) and the paradigmatic presentation of sin (Judas, the Jews).
- Smith D. M., The Theology of the Gospel of John (Cambridge, 1995).
- Ashton J., Studying John: Approaches to the Fourth Gospel (Oxford, 1998)
Lecture 9 - Language of the Person, Hypostasis in the Gospel of John
This lecture highlights the fundamental significance of the human person and personal relationship in St John’s kerygma. From this perspective the central concepts of “πιστεύειν”, “eternal life”, “flesh and spirit” are examined . It further focuses on St John’s ethics of interpersonal relationship with particular attention to chapter 17 and the epistles.
- Prof. Panagiotis Nellas: Why Did God Become Man? The Archetype of Humanity is the Incarnate Word
- Brown R., The Community of the Beloved Disciple (New York, 1979).
- Martyn L., History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel (Nashville, 1979).
Lecture 10 - St John's Gospel - The genesis of persona: Johannine anthropology
In focus here are some questions raised by modern biblical studies concerning the ecclesiological and sacramental perspectives in St John, as well as the significance and function of Christ’s symbolic actions and miracles in the 4th Gospel.
- Seeing and Believing: The Thomas Incident
- Cognizance in Person
- Koester: Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel
- Fr Vladimir Lossky: The Theological Notion of the Human Person
- Oliver Clement "Persons in Communion"