DIRECTIONS: Choose one question. Write an essay of between 750 and
1000 words [three to four typed, double-spaced pages]. The questions are rather
open-ended. Be sure to provide your own sharp focus by writing a clear thesis statement
in your introduction. Underline your thesis statement. DRAW FROM APPROPRIATE
SCRIPTURAL SOURCES AS WELL AS THE AUTHORS YOU'VE READ. IF YOU WISH YOU MAY ALSO
USE WEB SOURCES.
|The essay is due on Thursday,
1. Write an essay discussing the problem of using gospels as sources for understanding
the historical Jesus. In your essay, explain what a gospel is, how the
gospel writer gets and develops materials into the distinctive literary form we call a
gospel, and the limits of gospels as historical sources. Be sure to give some
examples of how biblical/historical criticism works in determining
historical material on Jesus' life. Make explicit use of Mark,
Paula Fredrickson or Ehrman, and, if you wish, web sources.
2. A central question for historians is why Jesus was
killed. How does one's understanding of the historical Jesus
depend on an understanding of his death? Briefly
describe the two major historical explanations [political
subversive or religious subversive] and discuss which one
seems particularly persuasive to you? Be sure to make explicit use of either
Ehrman or Fredricksen.
3. "The historical Jesus was a charismatic Jewish teacher and
eschatological prophet who witnessed to the power of God for delivering Israel from its
suffering; Paul transformed Jesus message and in doing so "de-Judaized early
Christianity, transforming it into a new religion." Discuss this thesis
by drawing critically on Pelikans first chapter, "The Rabbi,"
(you can also find a link to it in my online notes), and at least one of the
authors you read as well as appropriate sections of the Gospel Paul's letters.
4. Use Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians
to write an essay describing an early Christian community. What appears to be
the major features of that community and what are the main issues that will come
to shape the Church after the Apostolic Age? Besides First Corinthians be sure
to use either Chadwick or Noll for context.
NOTE: I would be happy to help with this assignment. Drop in during
office hours or E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might also like to raise some questions or try out some of your ideas in the Caucus Forum. You'll find an Essay#1 item there. Use it to get
reactions to your ideas as you prepare.