The New Testament

and the Historical Jesus




  Who wrote the Gospels? When? What are their problems as historical sources?

   Who was Jesus? What can we know about him and his context historically?


Key Terms

1) Appolonius of Tyana

2) Apocalyptic Prophet

3) The Gospels as Historical Sources

4) Paul of Tarsus

5) Edict of Milan

6) Council of Nicea

7) St. Augustine and The City of God



I.  The Problem of Evidence: The New Testament Gospels


Š     Secular Sources: Josephus and Tacitus

Š     The Four Gospels:  Anonymous, Mythical, “Truth”ful

o   Mark (c.65 CE)

o   Matthew (c.70-100 CE)

o   Luke (c.80-100 CE)

o   John (c. 100 CE)

Š     The Gospels that Didn’t Make It and “Lost” Christianities



II. The Historical Jesus: Jewish Apocalyptic Prophet


  First Century Judea:  A Normal Roman Province?


  Judaism in the First Century

o    Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots

o    Apocalyptic Prophets


  Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet and Troublemaker

o    Judgement, The Kingdom of God on Earth, & the Destruction of the Temple


  The Arrest, Trial, and Death of Jesus

o   Pontius Pilate

o   Jesus, the Jewish Leadership, and the Passover Celebration

o   Incident in the Temple and The Charge of Sedition

o   Blaming the Jews and the Origins of Christian anti-Semitism



III.  From Jewish Sect to a New Universal Religion


  Paul of Tarsus (5 AD-67 CE)


  Toward a Stable Community (100-200 CE)


  Roman Persecution (200-313 CE):  Diocletian’s Scapegoats


  Constantine and the Edict of Milan (313 CE)


  Theodosius (392 CE):  Christianity as State Religion


  Structural Conditions of the Roman Empire and the Appeal of Christianity



IV. The Emergence of the Catholic Church


  The Creation of Bishops:  The Supremacy of the Bishop of Rome


  The Creation of Christian Theology


  Settling Disputes:  The Council of Nicea (325 CE) and the Trinity


  The Church “Fathers”

o    St. Jerome  (340-420 CE)

o    St. Ambrose (340-397 CE)

o    St. Augustine (354-430 CE):  The City of God