New Testament Gospels Study Guide

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Sources of Knowledge about Jesus outside of the gospels
* Rabbinic Judaism
* A book hostile toward Jesus
* Called Jesus the son of a hair dresser
* Dates back to the mid to late 2nd century
* Not as reliable as other sources
* Apocryphal Gospels
* Tries to satisfy the question of what Jesus was doing before the onset of his ministry * Second goal is to explain theological viewpoints some view as questionable * Includes books such as secret gospel of Mark, the gospel of Thomas * Focus on knowledge and enlightenment

* Involves five basic principles
* Ontological dualism – moral line, spirit is good and matter is bad * Refusal to attribute matter to the ultimate God of goodness and life * If matter was evil God would not create it

* The fall of man explains matter
* Belief in a divine spark within some human beings which needs to be freed from its material prison – divine reality inside you belongs to a spiritual realm * Belief in a mediator that comes from the spiritual world into the physical and brings knowledge * Salvation is by knowledge

* The synoptic problem
* Which gospel came first?
* It is believed that Mark came first and that Matthew and Luke used it as their frame work * John does not appear to pay any attention to the other gospels * Matthew contains over 90% of Mark

* Luke contains over 80% of Mark
* Another theory is the Griecsbach Hypothesis
* This states that Matthew came first the Luke and Mark is simple the ‘readers digest’ version of them * The problem with this hypothesis is that it does not show how Matthew and Luke cleaned up the wordiness of Mark and that Mark does not appear to be an abridgement * There is also the Chaos Theory of Synoptic origins * Scholars say they simply cannot tell which came first * Historical criticism of the Gospels

* Quest for the Historical Jesus
* Influence of the enlightenment period
* The age of reason
* Because of the age of reason people sought to subject everything to a bar of reason * 2 important enlightenment figures
* Descartes
* Mathematician and theologian
* Thought all knowledge should be as concrete as mathematical knowledge * Tied to doubt all things unless they could not be doubted * Kant
* Had an anti-religious edge to his philosophy of enlightenment liberation * Believed in “homo mensura” man is the measure * Human reason is the standard for everything * Led to naturalism

* Everything happens because of natural law * The enlightenment period begins people doubting Christianity because stories like the loves and fish multiplying and the water to wine cannot be explained by natural law * The modern age

* Reimarus
* Librarian who dies in 1768
* Argues that the miracles performed by Jesus were not real and he was a political figure trying to get elected but by some bad choices got himself killed * Paulus
* Argues that all the miracles could be explained away by an understanding of science and causality * Healings caused by Jesus’ personality, secret medications, nature miracles * Walking on water was actually a sand bar * The resurrection was just Jesus waking from a coma * Disciples were opportunists

* Historical criticism studies
* Mythic criticism
* Believe there is no historical evidence for Jesus * Mythic writer D.F. Strauss argues the gospels...
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