Test Your Knowledge about Jesus on a Harvard Final Exam

This course was taught in 1999 by Helmut Koester (John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History) and M.P. Bonz a graduate teaching fellow.

The course was offered as HDS 1500 (Harvard Divinity School 1500) and as FAS 1419 and E 1325 in the general University.

This is the final exam for this Divinity School course entitled Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospels.

Harvard Divinity School 1500
Fall 1999

Professor Helmut Koester and Graduate Assistant Marianne P. Bonz

Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospels

Final Examination

Section 1: Essays (Write an essay on one of the following topics)

(1) Describe your own portrait of the historical Jesus. What elements of the various gospels (canonical and non-canonical) would you select for your portrait, and why do you regard these particular traditions as more likely to be authentic than other traditions that you would choose to omit?

(2) Discuss the differences of the views of Jesus as they are presented in two gospels of your choice, for example, the Synoptic Saying Gospel and Matthew, or the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Luke.

(3) David Friedrich Strauss claimed that the gospels depict a mythological Jesus; that is, that they are not trying to represent Jesus “as he actually was”. Using relevant biblical texts, respond to this claim. What sort of evidence might either corroborate or refute this claim? Does such appear evidence in the gospels, and if so, what is it?

4) Choose one Gospel and discuss the redactional method(s) and literary concept of the author that have shaped his/her image of Jesus. Be sure to make reference to specific passages that demonstrate the special christological perspective of the author.

Section 2: Exegetical Passages

Choose one form part A and one for part B.

In your comments, discuss form-, source-, and redaction-critical questions, consider parallels in other Gospels as well as the role of the passage for the understanding of that Gospel and the probable value of this text for the question of the historical Jesus.

A. Comparisons (choose one)

Compare Mark 8: 34 - 9: 1 to Matt 16:24 – 28 and Luke 9: 23 – 27.
How does a comparison of these passages indicate Markan priority. Please provide a detail analysis.

Compare Matthew 22: 1 – 14 to Luke 14: 16 – 24 and Gospel of Thomas 64.
Identify the common source and the ways in which the individual authors modify their source to further their individual schemes.

Compare Matthew 16: 5 – 12 and Mark 8: 14 – 21.
What theological themes does the Markan pericope develop? How does Matthew’s version differ and why?

B. Passages (choose two, but not both from the same gospel)

Matthew 6: 1 – 18 (Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting)
Matthew 22: 1 – 10 (Parable of the Great Supper)

Mark 8: 34 – 9:1 (About discipleship)
Mark 12: 28 – 34 (Question of the Great Commandment)

Luke 9: 37 – 43a (Healing of the Epileptic Boy)
Luke 17: 22 – 37 (The Son of Man)

Q/Luke 7: 18 – 35 (Question of John the Baptist)
Q/Luke 13: 22 – 30 (Judgment over Israel)

John 5: 17 – 29 (The judgment that Jesus proclaims)
John 13: 31 – 38 (The new commandment)

Gospel of Thomas 12 – 13
Gospel of Thomas 91 - 94