New Testament Backgrounds – NBST 800

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

A study of the peoples, movements, and cultures surrounding the world of the New Testament. Special emphasis is placed on the impact of background material on the exposition of key segments of the New Testament. Resources from Greco-Roman and Second Temple Jewish archaeological and literary discoveries are examined with attention given to their influence on informing the interpretation of the New Testament. Historiography within the first century world is explored with an emphasis on its impact upon the Gospels and Acts.


BIBL 700 and BIBL 715


“Backgrounds” includes many subjects, including history, religion, culture, sociology, and geography. Understanding the Greco-Roman and Judaic backgrounds to the New Testament is extremely important for interpreting and applying the text of the New Testament. Background material can be used appropriately and inappropriately, so exposing students to background material will aid in its use and in avoiding abuse. The task of studying backgrounds is truly formidable, but the rewards for hard work can be substantial.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

  1. Discuss the key political events and religious developments affecting the Jewish people during the Second Temple period.
  2. Describe the historical background and central beliefs of the major religious and political movements within first-century Judaism.
  3. Identify the distinctive beliefs and practices that differentiated Christianity from Greco-Roman paganism.
  4. Identify the importance of key archeological discoveries that provide insight relating to the people, places, or events described in the New Testament.
  5. Identify the importance of the most significant literature produced during the Second Temple period for the study of the New Testament.
  6. Describe specific features of the Greco-Roman and Judaic cultures that aid in the interpretation of specific New Testament passages.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and Presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (6)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 600 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 200 words. Discussion Board 6 is unique in that the student will upload or link a video presentation for the thread rather than a written response.

New Testament Background Essays (2)

The student will write two 8–10-page research-based essays in current Turabian. The purpose of the essays is to explore the historical background of a specific passage contained in the New Testament and to explain how this information provides clarity regarding the passage’s meaning. The essays must include at least 8 secondary sources and 2 primary sources in addition to the course textbooks and the Bible.

Book Critique

The student will write a 6–7-page book critique on Larry Hurtado’s Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World in current Turabian format. The paper must include at least __ reference(s) in addition to the course textbooks and the Bible.

Reading Quizzes (8)

Each quiz will cover the Reading & Study material for the assigned module/week. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain 20 multiple-choice and true/false, questions, and have a __-{minute or hour} time limit.