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Mobile Ed: The Gospels and History Bundle (7 courses)
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Overview

Examine the historical reliability of the Gospels with courses taught by top New Testament scholars like Craig Keener, Michael Licona, and Craig Evans. Overcome common objections to the Gospels involving their authorship, date, and apparent contradictions. Understand the genre of the Gospels and gain insight into how their genre influences their interpretation and historical reliability. Learn methods of historical investigation and apply them to the resurrection of Jesus. Study the historical reliability of miracle accounts in the Gospels in light of modern miracle stories. Compare the teachings of Jesus with other instruction in the ancient world and see how Jesus was perceived by early non-Christian witnesses.

Study more in the New Testament with the Mobile Ed: Studies in the Gospels Bundle.

Individual Titles

NT203 The Literary Context of the Gospels

  • Instructor: Andrew W. Pitts
  • Video Hours: 4

The Literary Context of the Gospels (NT203) examines the genre of the gospels. The course examines what type of literature the gospels may be as well as what the implications are for interpretation. It looks at both ancient and modern genre and surveys the history of the interpretation of the gospel genre. The course explores different structural features of the gospels and shows how these features fit with genres like history or ancient biography. By understanding the genre of the gospels, you’ll gain insight into how the gospel writers intended to communicate their message about the person, life, and ministry of Jesus.

Contents:

  • Genre Theory: Ancient and Modern
  • The Gospels as Ancient Biography
  • Features of Gospel Literature
  • Gospels, History, and Bios

Dr. Andrew W. Pitts is the chair of the biblical studies department and assistant professor of biblical studies and Christian ministries at Arizona Christian University. He is editor of the Brill Exegetical Commentary and is coauthor of Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism. He is also coeditor of three recently released books on early Christianity and has published articles in multiple peer-reviewed journals.

NT254 The Jesus of the Gospels

  • Instructor: Mark L. Strauss
  • Video Hours: 8

The Jesus of the Gospels (NT254) focuses on the historical Jesus and the reliability of the four gospels. The course surveys different “quests” for the historical Jesus by critical scholarship and examines, apologetically, what we can demonstrate about the person of Jesus. It assesses the teaching of Jesus, his miracles, the intention of his ministry, and the historical evidence for his death and resurrection.

Contents:

  • The Gospels and the Historical Jesus
  • Searching for the Real Jesus: The Historical Quests for Jesus
  • The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
  • The Contours and Chronology of Jesus’ Ministry
  • The Message of Jesus
  • The Miracles of Jesus
  • The Messianic Words and Deeds of Jesus
  • The Death and Resurrection of Jesus

Dr. Mark L. Strauss is the professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary in San Diego. He has written several books, including The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, Distorting Scripture? The Challenge of Bible Translation and Gender Accuracy, and Luke in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary series.

NT309 Critical Issues in the Synoptic Gospels

  • Instructor: Craig S. Keener
  • Video Hours: 3

Explore the historical reliability of the Gospels and the controversy of miracles. Probe the Gospels as biographies recounting historical information passed down through written and oral traditions and eyewitness accounts.

Contents:

  • Introducing the Gospels
  • Form Criticism
  • Historical Criticism
  • Miracle Reports
  • Early History

Craig S. Keener is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary and is the author of 17 books, 4 of which have won book awards in Christianity Today. One, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, has sold more than half a million copies. He has authored scholarly commentaries on Matthew, John, Acts, Romans, 1–2 Corinthians, and Revelation.

CS151 Philosophy of History

  • Instructor: Michael R. Licona
  • Video Hours: 8

Philosophy of History (CS151) establishes a theory of history and then applies it to a historical investigation of the resurrection of Jesus. It provides an extensive and detailed consideration of the many issues related to historical investigation—including the uncertainty of historical knowledge, the influence of one’s worldview in historiography, the historian’s right to investigate miracle claims, burden of proof, and arguments to the best explanation.

The course then walks through this strictly-controlled historical method to investigate the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. You’ll learn the relevant biblical and non-biblical sources which are identified and evaluated according to their historical reliability. Finally, the course weighs two prominent hypotheses that account for the historical bedrock according to the historical method set forth above. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is shown to be a near-certain historical probability, and thus, a solid basis for one’s faith in God—a faith that produces an eternal hope in the resurrection life.

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Unit 1: History
    • Second Guessing and the Challenges of History
    • Defining Terms and Challenges to Knowing the Past—Part One
    • Challenges to Knowing the Past—Part Two
    • Transcending Horizons
    • The Role of a Consensus
    • The Uncertainty of Historical Knowledge
    • Postmodernist History
    • Problems with Postmodernist History
    • Three Views of History, Historical Facts, and Burden of Proof
    • Theory and Historians
    • What Historians Do
  • Unit 2: Miracles and the Historian
    • Arguments to the Best Explanation
    • Arguments from Statistical Inferences
    • Criteria of Authenticity
    • Application of the Criteria of Authenticity to the Historical Jesus
  • Unit 3: Relevant Historical Sources
    • Defining Miracles
    • David Hume and the Impossibility of Miracles
    • The Principle of Analogy and Philosophical Assumptions Made by All Historians
    • Bart Ehrman and the Unreliability of the Gospels
    • Contradictions
    • Most Probable Explanation
    • James D.G. Dunn and the Interpretation of Data, and Burden of Proof in Relation to Miracle Claims
    • Preponderance of Evidence and a Turning Point for Historians
  • Unit 4: Historical Sources Pertaining to the Resurrection of Jesus
    • Relevant Historical Sources
    • Canonical Gospels
    • Matthew and Luke’s Use of Mark
    • Reliability of the Gospels and the Letters of Paul
    • Q and Speeches in Antiquity
    • Speeches in Acts and Oral Formulas in Paul
    • Origin and Reliability of the Oral Tradition in 1 Corinthians 15:3–7
    • Josephus
    • Tacitus, Mara bar Serapion, and Thallus
    • Lucian, Celsus, Babylonian Talmud, 1 Clement, Polycarp, and Letter of Barnabas
    • Gospel of Thomas
    • Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Judas, Revelation Dialogues, and Pseudo Mark
  • Unit 5: Historical Bedrock Pertaining to the Fate of Jesus
    • Jesus’ Life and Crucifixion
    • Jesus’ Death by Crucifixion
    • Appearances to the Disciples
    • Three-Day Motif and the Nature of the Appearances—Part One
    • Nature of the Appearances—Part Two and Legitimizing Authority?
    • Gospel of Mark and Resurrection Appearances
    • Appearance to Women, the Emmaus Disciples, and Those Who “Doubted”
    • The Apostles’ Testimony and Appearance to Paul—Part One
    • Appearance to Paul—Part Two and the Fate of Paul
    • Paul’s View of the Resurrection—Part One
    • Paul’s View of the Resurrection—Part Two
    • Paul’s View of the Resurrection—Part Three
    • Appearance to James
    • The Empty Tomb and Historical Bedrock
    • “B” Grade Facts
  • Unit 6: Weighing Hypotheses
    • Michael Goulder’s Hallucination Hypothesis
    • Analysis and Concerns of Goulder’s Hypothesis
    • Marian Apparitions and Weighing Goulder’s Hypothesis
    • Resurrection Hypothesis
    • Evidence for a Supernatural Element in Reality
    • Concluding Thoughts

Mike Licona is associate professor of theology at Houston Baptist University. He holds a PhD in New Testament Studies from the University of Pretoria, which he earned with distinction and the highest marks.

Dr. Licona was interviewed for Lee Strobel’s book The Case for the Real Jesus and he appeared in Strobel’s video The Case for Christ. He is the author of numerous books, including The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach and Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection, coauthor with Gary Habermas of the award-winning book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, and coeditor of Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science. His next book will concern ancient compositional devices resulting in discrepancies in the Gospels and Plutarch’s Lives. Dr. Licona is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Institute for Biblical Research, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He has spoken on more than seventy university campuses and has appeared on dozens of radio and television programs.

AP113 Objections to the Gospels

  • Instructor: Michael R. Licona
  • Video Hours: 6

In his Objections to the Gospels course, Dr. Michael R. Licona explores the major objections to the reliability of the Gospels posed by modern critics. This course provides you with strong historical background to the text and authorship of the Gospels and a greater appreciation for these works.

Contents:

  • Unit 1: Answering the Major Objections to the Gospels
    • Having an Accurate View of the Gospels
    • The Basis of our Biblical Text
    • Conclusions of New Testament Textual Criticism
    • Why So Many Translations?
    • Is the Bible True?
    • Undesigned Coincidences
    • Criteria for Canonicity
  • Unit 2: Authorship of the Gospels
    • Who Wrote the Gospels?
    • Who Wrote the Gospels?: Mark
    • Who Wrote the Gospels?: Luke
    • Who Wrote the Gospels?: John
    • Who Wrote the Gospels?: Matthew
  • Unit 3: Dating of the Gospels
    • Evidence of Authorship
    • Gospel Dating: Mark
    • Gospel Dating: Matthew and Luke
    • Gospel Dating: John
    • Remembering the Past
  • Unit 4: Eyewitness Testimony
    • Gospels: Written Accounts of Eyewitnesses
    • Protective Anonymity
    • Oral Tradition
  • Unit 5: Objections to Miracles
    • Are Miracles Metaphysically Possible?
    • Balancing Argument from Hume
    • Bayes’ Theorem
    • Probable Explanations and Miracles
    • Near Death Experiences
    • Parallels
    • Gospels Are Novels
  • Unit 6: Contradictions
    • Putting Contradictions in Perspective
    • Genre of the Gospels
    • Genealogical Redaction for Theological Purposes
    • What Are the Differences among the Gospels?
    • Writing Ancient History
  • Unit 7: Why Are There Differences among the Gospels?
    • Plutarch’s Lives
    • Transferal
    • Spotlighting
    • Simplification
    • The Implications of Literary Devices in the Gospels

Mike Licona is associate professor of theology at Houston Baptist University. He holds a PhD in New Testament Studies from the University of Pretoria, which he earned with distinction and the highest marks.

Dr. Licona was interviewed for Lee Strobel’s book The Case for the Real Jesus and he appeared in Strobel’s video The Case for Christ. He is the author of numerous books, including The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach and Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection, coauthor with Gary Habermas of the award-winning book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, and coeditor of Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science. His next book will concern ancient compositional devices resulting in discrepancies in the Gospels and Plutarch’s Lives. Dr. Licona is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Institute for Biblical Research, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He has spoken on more than seventy university campuses and has appeared on dozens of radio and television programs.

NT312 The Gospels and Ancient Pedagogy

Craig Evans NT312 Course Promo
  • Instructor: Craig A. Evans
  • Video Hours: 3

The Gospels are 2000-year-old texts, so as you read them it is important to understand the ancient genre they represent. In this course, Craig Evans surveys the Gospels, discusses issues of text criticism, and explains ancient teaching methods so you understand not only what Jesus taught, but how he taught it and why his lessons are recorded as they are across the Gospel texts.

Contents:

  • Unit 1: Gospels: Chronology, Canonicity and Text
    • Gospel of Mark
    • Researching the Dating of Mark’s Gospel with Custom Collections
    • Gospel of Matthew
    • Surveying the Jewish Temples with Bible Facts and the Timeline
    • Gospel of Luke
    • Examining the Greek Word behind Paul and Barnabas’ “Sharp Disagreement”
    • Gospel of John
    • Examining the Identity of the “Beloved Disciple”
    • Early Canonicity and Stable Text
    • Unit 1 Quiz
  • Unit 2: Gospels: Jewish Versions
    • A Hebrew Matthew?
    • Hebrew Matthew: Two Approaches
    • Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew: Part 1
    • Finding the Frequency of “God” in the Gospels
    • Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew: Part 2
    • Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew: Part 3
    • Using the Sermon Starter Guide to Research the Kingdom of God
    • Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew: Part 4
    • Patristic Evidence of a Hebrew Matthew
    • Ways of Citing Jewish Gospels
    • Origen: Gospel of the Nazarenes
    • Epiphanius: Gospel of the Ebionites
    • Jerome: Gospel of the Nazarenes
    • Unit 2 Quiz
  • Unit 3: Historiography and Pedagogy
    • Introducing Historiography and Pedagogy
    • Historiography: Truthful but Not Verbatim
    • Pedagogy: Memorization but Not Verbatim
    • Researching Differences in the Gospels
    • Unit 3 Quiz
  • Unit 4: The Synoptic Problem
    • Introducing the Synoptic Problem
    • Examples of the Synoptic Differences
    • Synoptic Case Study: Stilling the Storm
    • Unit 4 Quiz
    • Summary Observations
    • Final Exam

Craig A. Evans is the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament and director of the graduate program at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He has written extensively on the historical Jesus and the Jewish background of the New Testament era. His books include Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies, a commentary on Mark in the Word Biblical Commentary, Jesus and the Ossuaries, and Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies. He has recently served on the advisory board of the Gospel of Judas for National Geographic Society and has appeared frequently as an expert commentator on network television programs such as Dateline, and in various documentaries on the BBC, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.

NT313 Jesus and the Witness of the Outsiders

Craig Evans NT313 Course Promo
  • Instructor: Craig A. Evans
  • Video Hours: 1

In this course, Dr. Craig Evans explores various ancient sources that refer to Christ. He focuses on the evidence from extrabiblical sources, and looks at what they reveal about the life of Christ and how Jesus was perceived by early non-Christian witnesses. He examines references to Jesus in Roman, Jewish, and other writings, and looks at where Jesus’ name was invoked in both Christian and pagan charms and incantations.

Contents:

  • Unit 1: The Witness of Roman Writers
    • Tacitus and Suetonius
    • Pliny the Younger
    • Celsus and Lucian
    • Using Clippings to Document Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ
    • Mara bar Serapion
    • Unit 1 Quiz
  • Unit 2: The Witness of Jewish Writers
    • Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities
    • Using Timelines in Logos to Find Events in Jesus’ Life
    • Translations of Josephus and Rabbinic Literature
    • The Qur’an and Other Writings
    • Building and Searching a Collection of Ancient Non-Christian Witnesses to Christ
    • Unit 2 Quiz
  • Unit 3: Invocations of the Name of Jesus
    • The Greek Magical Papyrus
    • Silver Phylactery from Beirut
    • Magic Bowls
    • Curse Tablets and Lamellae
    • The “Jesus Cup”
    • Unit 3 Quiz
    • Relevance of These Witnesses
    • Final Exam

Craig A. Evans is the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament and director of the graduate program at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He has written extensively on the historical Jesus and the Jewish background of the New Testament era. His books include Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies, a commentary on Mark in the Word Biblical Commentary, Jesus and the Ossuaries, and Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies. He has recently served on the advisory board of the Gospel of Judas for National Geographic Society and has appeared frequently as an expert commentator on network television programs such as Dateline, and in various documentaries on the BBC, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.

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