E240 Gospels Questions

Assigned: from The New Testament (1206-21).

Luke 2 (1207-08)

1. How are Jesus' birth and his earliest actions received by the people surrounding him -- his parents, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the learned rabbis? How much of his value is known to all, and how much seems to be understood privately?

Matthew 5-7 (1209-13)

2. Jesus says he has come to "fulfill" the scriptures (i. e. "the law and the prophets"). After reading his "Sermon on the Mount," how do you interpret this pledge? In what sense does he fulfill the scriptures?

3. Jesus' pronouncements in part form the basis of modern "civil disobedience -- for example, Thoreau's resistance of government encroachment on his personal liberties, Mahatma Gandhi's "Satyagraha" campaigns in South Africa and India, and Martin Luther King, Jr. 's "non-violent direct action" initiatives against segregation. Explain the logic of Jesus' remarks about how to treat one's enemies, how to deal with evil, and so forth.

Luke 15 and Matthew 13 (1213-15)

4. What is a parable? Why does Jesus employ parables so often -- what does he say about this when his disciples ask him for an explanation? What functions of the parable can you infer from his "Parable of the Sower"?

Matthew 26-28 (1215-21)

5. In the betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, what patterns of human frailty are on display? Consider Jesus' disciples, the top Roman official Pontius Pilate, and those who condemn Jesus as a blasphemer against religious tradition.

6. How does Jesus respond to what others say and do against him? To what extent does the text ceremonialize Jesus' suffering? To what extent does it represent that suffering in a more directly personal and realistic manner?

Edition: Lawall, Sarah, ed. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2nd edition. Volumes 1ABC. New York: Norton, 2002. ISBN A = 0-393-97755-2, B = 0-393-97756-0, C = 0-393-97757-9.