RELG 411/482, McGill University, Winter 2014
Birks 105

Professor Jeffrey A. Keiser  |  jkeiser.2+ntexegesis@gmail.com
Office and Hours: Birks 021; Tue and Thurs 1:30–2:30

Course Description

This course offers a practical introduction to classical and contemporary methods of interpreting the New Testament. The course is divided into weekly modules, each of which focuses on a representative text from the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, or Revelation. These modules are futher subdivided into 50-minute workshops and two-hour discussion sections. The workshops involve practical exercises designed to acquaint students with key disciplines, tools, and methods for the study of the New Testament. Weekly exegetical reports provide a starting point for discussion of critical issues raised by the assigned text . With some exceptions, the texts follow the schedule of readings in the Revised Common Lectionary.

Required Texts

  1. New Testament: Students enrolled in RELG 411 must bring a modern-language, scholarly, collective translation of the New Testament to each class. For exegetical work you will need more than one translation. Acceptable translations in English include:

    • New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    • New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)
    • Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
    • Revised English Bible (REB)
    • Revised Standard Version (RSV) or New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
    • New English Translation (NET). The NET is available online or in print. The online version is useful for its extensive translators’ notes and for side-by-side presentation of the English and Greek text. Hovering over a Greek word will highlight its English rendering whilst revealing a morphological analysis, a list of possible definitions, and its Strong’s number. (These tools can be helpful, but they are no substitute for knowledge of Greek and must be used judiciously).

    Paraphrases such as the Living Bible (LB) or colloquial translations such as The Message are inadequate for this course. Do not hesitate to talk to me if you have questions concerning your version.

    Students enrolled in RELG 482 must acquire the 27th or 28th edition of the Novum Testamentum Graece (abbreviated NA27 and NA28, respectively). The Greek text of the NA28 is available online, but you will still need a printed copy to access the sigla and the critical apparatus.</li>

  2. Supplementary Readings: Various supplementary readings will be made placed on reserve at the McLennen-Redpath Library or linked to this syllabus as needed.

  1. A good synopsis is essential for exegesis of the Gospels. I recommend the following for students with little or no Greek:

    • Kurt Aland, Ed. Synopsis of the Four Gospels, 2nd Ed. (New York: American Bible Society, 2010)
    • Benoit, P., M.-E. Boismard, and A. Lamouille, Synopse des quatre Evangiles en français avec parallèl des apocryphes et des Pères, 2nd Ed. (3 vols.; Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1987 )
    • Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr., Ed., Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels, 5th Ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 1992)

  2. For students who are able to read Greek:

    • Kurt Aland, ed., Synopsis Quattor Evangeliorum: Locis parallelis evangeliorum apocryphorum et patrum adhibitis edidit, 15th Rev. Ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2008)
    • Kurt Aland, Ed., Synopsis of the Four Gospels: Greek-English Edition of the Synopsis quattor evangeliorum (Stuttgart: Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1976)

    Similar resources are available for the Pauline letters. See Walter T. Wilson, Pauline Parallels: A Comprehensive Guide (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2009) and James P. Ware, Synopsis of the Pauline Letters in Greek and English (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2010).

Internet Resources

Reliable websites on the New Testament and many related topics can be found at Mark Goodacre’s NT Gateway and the Sites of Interest page maintained by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).

Course Requirements and Grading

  1. Attendance and Participation (5%): Attendance and active participation in discussions and exercises are critical for the success of the seminar. Unavoidable absences should be covered by valid medical documentation or the like; please notify me, if possible, prior to such absences.

  2. Exegetical Reports (70%): Students will write twelve exegetical reports, no more than 600 words in length, excluding bibliography. Each student’s best ten submissions will count for the total mark (7% x 10 = 70%). An annotated guideline for these reports is available here.

    Exegetical reports must be submitted on the day they are due. Papers submitted after the appropriate meeting will be reduced by one-tenth of the assigned mark, though I will grade any papers submitted by Tuesday, April 08.

  3. Final Take-Home Examination (25%): A take-home examination will be given during the final examination period. The examination will require exegetical comments on two passages, one from the gospels and one from the Pauline letters. The examination passages will not have been discussed in class.

Summary of Course Requirements

  1. Attendance and Participation: 5%
  2. Exegetical Reports: 70%
  3. Final Take-Home Examination: 25%

Academic Integrity

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see www.mcgill.ca/students/srr/honest/ for more information).

L’université McGill attache une haute importance à l’honnêteté académique. Il incombe par conséquent à tous les étudiants de comprendre ce que l’on entend par tricherie, plagiat et autres infractions académiques, ainsi que les conséquences que peuvent avoir de telles actions, selon le Code de conduite de l’étudiant et des procédures disciplinaires (pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site www.mcgill.ca/students/srr/honest/).

Changes to the Syllabus

In the event of extraordinary circumstances beyond the University’s control, the content and/or evaluation scheme in this course is subject to change.

Course Schedule

Jan 07: Course Introduction, Procedures, and Expectations


John 1:29–42 (Second Sunday after Epiphany)

Jan 09: Workshop

Jan 14: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due

Craig L. Blomberg with Jennifer Foutz Markey, “Textual Criticism;” “Translation and Translations,” pp. 1–35 and 37–61 in idem, A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis (Grand Rapids, Mich.: BakerAcademic, 2010).


1 Cor 1:10–18 (Third Sunday after Epiphany)

NTTTC, pp. 483–485 | Mounce Interlinear

Jan 16: CLASS CANCELLED

Jan 21: Workshop (482 meets at 10:35–11:25 a.m., followed by 411 from 11:35 a.m.–12:25 p.m., as though it were a Thursday schedule)

John D. Grassmick, “Epistolary Genre: Reading Ancient Letters,” pp. 221–239 in Ed. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning, Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis (Wheaton, Crossway, 2006).

Gordon D. Fee, “The Structural Analysis” pp. 41–58 in idem, New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors, 3rd Ed. (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2002).


Luke 2:22–40 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany; Presentation of the Lord)

NTTTC, pp. 171–174

Jan 23: Workshop | Exegetical Reports on 1 Cor 1:10–18 due

Jan 28: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due

Raymond Brown, “Scholarship and the Infancy Narratives,” pp. 25–41 in idem, The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Updated Ed. (Wheaton, Crossway, 2006).


Matthew 5:13–20 (Fifth Sunday after Epiphany)

NTTTC, p. 10  |  Throckmorton Synopsis  |  Aland Synopsis (English)  |  Aland Synopsis (Greek)

Jan 30: Workshop

Feb 04: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due

James L. Bailey and Lyle D. Vander Brock, “Aphorism,” pp. 98–105 in idem, Literary Forms in the New Testament: A Handbook (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1992).


1 Corinthians 3:1–9 (Sixth Sunday after Epiphany)

NTTTC, pp. 488–490

Feb 06: Workshop

Feb 11: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due


Mark 9:2–13 (Transfiguration Sunday, March 02)

NTTTC, pp. 129–128  |  Throckmorton Synopsis  |  Aland Synopsis (English)  |  Aland Synopsis (Greek)</span>

Feb 13: Workshop

Feb 18: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due


Romans 5:12–19 (First Sunday in Lent, March 09)

NTTTC, p. 444

Feb 20: Workshop

Feb 25: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due


Hebrews 10:4–10 (Annunciation of the Lord, March 25)

NTTTC, p. 709

Feb 27: Workshop

Mar 04: NO CLASS (Reading Period)

Mar 06: NO CLASS (Reading Period)

Mar 11: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due


Ephesians 5:8–14 (Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 30)

NTTTC, pp. 594–595

Mar 13: Workshop

Mar 18: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due


Philippians 2:5–11 (Liturgy of the Passion, April 13)

NTTTC, p. 608

Mar 20: Workshop

Mar 25: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due


1 Peter 4:1–8 (Holy Saturday, April 19)

NTTTC, pp. 749–749

Mar 27: Workshop

Apr 01: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due


Acts 10:34–43 (Resurrection of the Lord, April 20)

NTTTC, pp. 372–373

Apr 03: Workshop

Apr 08: Discussion | Exegetical Reports Due