DIRECTIONS: Choose one question. Write an essay of between 750 and
1000 words [three to four typed, double-spaced pages]. Be sure to provide
a sharp focus by writing a clear thesis statement
in your introduction. Underline your thesis statement. DRAW FROM APPROPRIATE
SCRIPTURAL SOURCES AS WELL AS EHRMAN'S BOOK. IF YOU WISH YOU MAY ALSO
USE WEB SOURCES.
The essay is due on
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
and 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 Ehrman.
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.