In the decades after Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion and resurrection, Christians shared with one another stories of His life and ministry which developed into the texts that we now know as the Gospels and Acts. In this unit, students will study the three synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – as well as Acts, considering them in their historical, social, cultural, religious, and literary contexts. The stories of the early Christians present multiple accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry that each generation of Christians has engaged with to understand who Jesus was and is. This unit will engage with the tension between these narratives and develop exegetical skills with a focus on historical-critical methods, literary analysis, and identification of theological themes.

Unit code: BN9002Z

Unit status: Approved (Minor revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: New Testament

Delivery Mode: Blended

Proposing College: St Francis College

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Learning outcomes


Analyse and synthesize the similarities and differences in context, authorship, and composition of the Synoptic Gospels.


Prepare and deliver a homily or sermon on a passage from either a synoptic gospel or acts.


Analyse, synthesize, and evaluate New Testament texts through a critical engagement with primary sources and secondary literature.


Communicate clearly, with a developing understanding of academic structures and conventions appropriate to a second level postgraduate unit.

Unit sequence

This unit requires at least one Postgraduate Foundation level unit to be completed.


This unit will incorporate a flipped learning approach prior to on-campus workshops that will combine direct instruction and collaborative learning approaches.

Indicative Bibliography

  • David Wenham and Steve Walton. Exploring the New Testament, Volume One: A Guide to the Gospels and Acts, third revised and expanded edition (London: SPCK, 2021).

  • Wright, N. T. and Michael F. Bird. The New Testament in its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature and Theology of the First Christians. London: SPCK; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019.

  • Powell, Mark Allan. Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, Literary and Theological Survey. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2018.

  • Puskas, Charles B. and Crump, David. An Introduction to the Gospels and Acts. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

  • Carey, Greg. Luke: All Flesh shall see God’s Salvation. An Introduction and Study Guide. Bloomsbury, 2017 (2012)

  • Matthews, Shelly. The Acts of the Apostles: Taming Tongues of Fire. An Introduction and Study Guide. Bloomsbury, 2017 (2013).

  • Smith, Abraham. Mark: Shaping the Life and Legacy of Jesus. An Introduction and Study Guide. Bloomsbury, 2017.

  • Wainwright, Elaine M. Matthew: The Basileia of the Heavens is Near at Hand. An Introduction and Study Guide. Bloomsbury, 2017


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Seminar or Tutorial - Tutorial Presentation

Compare and contrast Gospel Parallels by identifying similarities and differences; reflect in detail on the possible reasons for and meanings of these features.

1500 20.0
Exegesis - Exegesis & Sermon

Written exegesis of a Gospel Passage (2000 words–)

2000 32.0
Oral Presentation

oral presentation of a sermon (10-12 minutes, or 900 words ).

900 18.0
Essay - Essay

Literary Analysis of a Speech in Acts.

2000 30.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 27 Jun, 2023

Unit record last updated: 2023-06-27 15:27:40 +1000