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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
  • Introduction
    • Introducing the Speaker and the Course
    Unit 1: Genre Theory: Ancient and Modern
    • What Are the Gospels?
    • What Is Genre?
    • Genre and Literary Types
    Unit 2: The Gospels asSui Generis
    • The Historical-Critical Paradigm
    • Martin Dibelius on the Genre of the Gospels
    • Rudolf Bultmann and the Synoptic Tradition
    • C. H. Dodd and the Gospel as Kerygma
    • Other Contributors to Sui Generis
    Unit 3: The Gospels as Bios
    • The “Life of Jesus” Project
    • The Initial Assessments
    • The Work of Charles Talbert
    • Philip Shuler, Albrecht Dihle, David Aune, and a New Trajectory
    • Richard Burridge and the Graeco-Roman Bios
    • A New and Emerging Consensus
    • Responses to Richard Burridge
    • Craig Keener andThe Historical Jesus of the Gospels
    • Jonathan Pennington’s Critique of Burridge
    • A More Comprehensive Assessment
    • Justin Smith and the Study of Bios
    • Michael Licona and Applying Bios
    • Licona’s Five Compositional Strategies: Part 1
    • Licona’s Five Compositional Strategies: Part 2
    • Licona’s Five Compositional Strategies: Part 3
    • Licona’s Five Compositional Strategies: Part 4
    • Licona’s Five Compositional Strategies: Part 5
    • The Problem of Luke’s Gospel
    Unit 4: Other Proposals for the Gospels’ Genre
    • Aretalogy, Drama, Mythography, and Mimesis
    • Mimesis: Part 1
    • Mimesis: Part 2
    • Mimesis: Part 3
    • Ancient Novel or Historical Monograph?
    Unit 5: Richard Burridge and the Gospels as Bios
    • Burridge’s Criteria: Part 1
    • Burridge’s Criteria: Part 2
    • Burridge’s Criteria: Part 3
    • Burridge’s Sample Group
    • Problems with Burridge’s Criteria: Part 1
    • Problems with Burridge’s Criteria: Part 2
    • Problems with Burridge’s Criteria: Part 3
    • New Criteria
    Unit 6: The Gospels, History, and Bios
    • Preface Criteria Applied
    • Event-Participant Criteria Applied
    • Authoritative Citation Criteria Applied
    • Implications and Moving Forward
    Conclusion
    • Course Review

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:

Introduction
  • Introducing the Speaker and the Course
Unit 1: The Gospels and the Historical Jesus
  • What Can We Know about Jesus?
  • Sources for Knowing about Jesus
  • What Are the Gospels? Part 1
  • What Are the Gospels? Part 2
  • How the Gospels Came to Be
Unit 2: Quests for the Historical Jesus
  • Searching for the Real Jesus
  • The First Quest for the Historical Jesus
  • Rudolf Bultmann and the Period of No Quest: Part 1
  • Rudolf Bultmann and the Period of No Quest: Part 2
  • The Second Quest and the Jesus Seminar
  • The Contemporary Scene
  • Examining Method and Context
  • The Criteria of Authenticity
  • Contemporary Portraits: Part 1
  • Contemporary Portraits: Part 2
Unit 3: The Reliability of the Gospels
  • Presuppositions, Biases, and the Burden of Proof
  • Luke: A Reliable Historian
  • A Generally Reliable Gospel Tradition
  • Contradictions in the Gospels
  • The Historical Reliability of John
Unit 4: The Chronology of Jesus’ Ministry
  • A Portrait of Jesus from Afar
  • The Basic Structure of Jesus’ Ministry
  • A Chronology of Jesus’ Life
Unit 5: Jesus’ Birth and Childhood
  • Introduction to the Birth Narratives
  • The Genealogies
  • The Virginal Conception
  • Bethlehem and the Census
  • Popular Myths about Christmas
  • Jesus’ Family Life
Unit 6: The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry
  • John the Baptist: The Herald of Messianic Salvation
  • The Baptism of Jesus
  • The Temptation of Jesus
Unit 7: The Teaching of Jesus
  • Jesus the Teacher
  • The Kingdom of God
  • Jesus and the Law: Part 1
  • Jesus and the Law: Part 2
  • Grace and Works
  • Jesus and Social Justice
  • The Parables of the Kingdom: Part 1
  • The Parables of the Kingdom: Part 2
Unit 8: The Miracles of Jesus
  • The Question of Miracles
  • Did Jesus Perform Miracles? Part 1
  • Did Jesus Perform Miracles? Part 2
  • The Significance of Jesus’ Miracles
Unit 9: The Messianic Words and Deeds of Jesus
  • The Remarkable Authority of Jesus
  • The Scope of Jesus’ Ministry: Calling the Twelve
  • The Scope of Jesus’ Ministry: A Universal Kingdom
  • The Significance of the Triumphal Entry
  • The Significance of the Temple Cleansing
  • Jesus’ Titles: Christ
  • Jesus’ Titles: Son of Man
  • Jesus’ Titles: Son of God
  • Jesus’ Titles: Lord
Unit 10: The Death of Jesus
  • The Role of the Romans
  • The Role of the Jews
  • Jesus’ Expectations
  • The Significance of Jesus’ Death
Unit 11: The Resurrection of Jesus
  • The Importance of the Resurrection
  • Rationalistic Explanations for the Resurrection
  • Historical Evidence for the Resurrection
  • The Significance of the Resurrection
Unit 12: Concluding Thoughts
  • Faith, Apologetics, and the Gospels
  • The Already/Not Yet Kingdom of God
  • A Holistic Vision of Salvation

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:

Introduction
  • Introducing the Speaker and the Course
Unit 1: The Gospels and History
  • Introducing the Gospels
  • The Genre of the Gospels
  • The Basics of Ancient Biography
  • Ancient Biographers
  • Source Criticism
  • Form Criticism
  • Redaction Criticism
  • Oral Tradition
  • Memorization
  • Advanced Education in Antiquity
  • Linguistic Evidence for Authenticity
  • Eyewitnesses
  • The Gospels’ Appeal to Common Knowledge
  • Objections to Gospel Reliability
Unit 2: Miracles in the Gospels
  • Miracle Reports
  • Jesus’ Miracles
  • Philosophical Foundations of Naturalism
  • The Principle of Uniformity
  • Human Experience of the Miraculous
  • Eyewitness Reports of Miracles
  • More Modern Eyewitness Accounts
  • Raised from the Dead
  • Accounts from the Congo
  • Nature Miracles
Conclusion
  • Course Summary

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
  • Introducing the Speaker and the Course
Unit 1: Theory of History
  • Second-Guessing and the Challenge of History
  • Defining Terms and Challenges to Knowing the Past: Part 1
  • Challenges to Knowing the Past: Part 2
  • 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: Method to History
  • Arguments to the Best Explanation
  • Arguments from Statistical Inferences
  • Criteria of Authenticity
  • Application of the Criteria of Authenticity to the Historical Jesus
Unit 3: Miracles and the Historian
  • Defining Miracles
  • David Hume and the Impossibility of Miracles
  • The Principle of Analogy and Philosophical Assumptions
  • Bart Ehrman and the Reliability of the Gospels
  • Contradictions
  • Most Probable Explanation
  • James D. G. Dunn, the Interpretation of Data, and Burden of Proof
  • Preponderance of Evidence and a Turning Point for Historians
Unit 4: Historical Sources and the Resurrection of Jesus
  • Relevant Sources
  • Canonical Gospels
  • Matthew’s 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, and the Apostolic Fathers
  • Gospel of Thomas
  • Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Judas, Revelation Dialogues, and Pseudo Mark
Unit 5: Historical Bedrock Pertaining to Jesus’ Fate
  • Jesus’ Life and Death
  • Jesus’ Death by Crucifixion
  • Appearances to the Disciples
  • Three-Day Motif and the Nature of the Appearances: Part 1
  • Legitimization of Authority and Nature of the Appearances: Part 2
  • Gospel of Mark and Resurrection Appearances
  • Appearances to Women, the Emmaus Disciples, and the Doubters
  • The Apostles’ Testimony and Appearance to Paul: Part 1
  • The Fate of Paul and Appearance to Paul: Part 2
  • Paul’s View of the Resurrection: Part 1
  • Paul’s View of the Resurrection: Part 2
  • Paul’s View of the Resurrection: Part 3
  • 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
Conclusion
  • Summary of the Course

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:

Introduction
  • Introducing the Speaker and the Course
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 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 3: Historiography and Pedagogy
  • Introducing Historiography and Pedagogy
  • Historiography: Truthful but Not Verbatim
  • Pedagogy: Memorization but Not Verbatim
  • Researching Differences in the Gospels
Unit 4: The Synoptic Problem
  • Introducing the Synoptic Problem
  • Examples of the Synoptic Differences
  • Synoptic Case Study: Stilling the Storm
Conclusion
  • Summary Observations

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:

Introduction
  • Introducing the Speaker and the Course
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 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 3: Invocations of the Name of Jesus
  • The Greek Magical Papyrus
  • Silver Phylactery from Beirut
  • Magic Bowls
  • Curse Tablets and Lamellae
  • The “Jesus Cup”
Conclusion
  • Relevance of These Witnesses

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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