This course is an exploration of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) with particular attention to: a) the problem of their interrelationships (the Synoptic Problem); b) the various approaches or methods that may help in understanding these Gospels, including specific ways to interpret parables, miracle stories, infancy narratives, etc.; and c) the particular theological emphases of each Gospel, especially in Christology, Pneumatology, the Paschal Mystery, Eschatology. The course is an exploration of the historical setting, literary relationships, content, and interpretation of the Synoptic Gospels with special attention to the theological perspectives of Mark, Matthew and Luke as reflected in their varying presentations. Likewise, attention will be given to the distinctive portrait of Jesus that each gospel presents. Our study of the Synoptic Gospels begins with a close reading of Mark. We will then look at how Matthew and Luke develop the literary genre of “gospel,” see what each evangelist adds as theologian and pastor, and explore how Mark, Matthew, and Luke can be bearers of good news today. Students are introduced to the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke. Background for an understanding of each gospel, overview study, and more detailed exegesis of chosen passages will lead course participants not only to a better understanding of each gospel, but also to an appreciation of each evangelist as a theologian and pastor.
Since the Gospel of Mark forms the backbone for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the focus of the course will be on the Gospel of Mark. However, the Gospel of Mark will be studied synoptically, i.e. importance will not only be given to what Mark said about Jesus and his mission, but also how Matthew and Luke, the earliest “commentators” interpreted Mark.