Early Christian Outlook and its Jewish Matrix: Narratives of Gospels and Acts
Students will learn: To recognize the importance of contextualizing nascent Christianity within late Second Temple Judaism. To name the main genres of the surviving early Christian sources and describe the process that eventually led to the canonization of the New Testament. To describe the historical circumstances of the birth of Christianity and variegated settings of the first decades of its existence. To comprehend the transition of the earliest Jesus-centered tradition on the way from its oral Semitic stage to written Greek compositions. To discern various strategies employed by the Synoptic tradition (Matthew, Mark and Luke) to define Jesus' messiahship vis-a-vis the variety of Second Temple Jewish messianic beliefs. To recognize the multifaceted character of references to "the Jews" in the Fourth Gospel and acknowledge the variegated explanations of the Gospel's harsh polemical stance raised in the research. To discern the roots of the notion of Messiah's pre-existence in Second Temple Jewish literature and its metamorphosis in rabbinic sources. To discern John's reworking of the Synoptic tradition of Jesus' miracles into the narrative of signs and wonders, using the story of Exodus as its focal point of reference. To recognize the conflict within the Jesus movement about inclusion of the Gentiles and their obligations to the Torah observance as reflection of differences of opinion in broader Second Temple Judaism.