Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2008-2009 (archived)


Department: Theology and Religion


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2008/09 Module Cap None Location Durham


  • Introduction to the New Testament (THEO1121) or equivalent


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To induct students into a critical investigation upon the founder of Christianity, and to uncover in particular the nature of his message and mission.
  • To investigate the image of Jesus in history and myth.
  • To build upon previous study and to prepare candidates for further study of the New Testament at 3rd level and/or the writing of a dissertation in this area.
  • To teach and develop skills in the exegesis of biblical texts.


  • This module will examine the various traditions about Jesus (his teaching and activity, the political and religious factors that led to his death and the emergence of a belief in his resurrection, the subsequent estimates that grew up about him in Christian and non-Christian circles),and seek to determine to what extent the historian can recover from these traditions a historically reliable picture of him. Using the tools of modern critical analysis' study will be directed in particular to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), but will include other early evidence. In the first term ('The Message and Mission of Jesus'), the topics will be: Jesus in his historical context, the Jesus of the Gospels, and the Message, Mission and Miracles of Jesus. The set Texts for detailed study are: Mark 1.1-15 & par.; Mark 8.27-9.13 & par.; Matthew 5-7 & par.; Mark 4.1-34 & par.; Matthew 8-9 & par. In the second term ('Jesus in History and Myth'), we shall explore Jesus and the Politics of his day, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, Jesus in the Estimation of the Ancient World, and the Modern Quest for the Historical Jesus. The set texts for detailed study are: Mark 11-12 & par.; Mark 14.53-15.47 & par.; Mark 16.1-8 & par.; Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, XVIII.63-64, The Jewish War (Slavonic Additions); Matthew 10 & par.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • a good knowledge of the various traditions about Jesus that arose in both Christian and non-Christian circles and of modern attempts to recover from these traditions a historically reliable picture of him
  • a specific understanding of the life and teaching of the historical Jesus, so far as it can be known, as well as of the religio-political factors that led to his death by crucifixion and the emergence of a beleif in his resurrection
  • comprehensive understanding of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), and a critical appreciation of the other relevent canonical and extra-canonical sources, using the tools of modern critical analysis.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The student will have cognitive skills of analysis, synthesis, and the critical evaluation of sources.
  • The student will have exegetical skills, analyzing texts critically, interpreting their meaning within their historical, literary and theological contexts, presenting the results of exegesis in a lucid and coherent form.
Key Skills:
  • The student will have skills in structured written communication.
  • The student will have skills in the acquisition and evaluation of information from written sources.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures are intended to develop the student's subject - specific knowledge and understanding by providing a broad overveiw and a detailed introduction to the issues and concepts. Skills-based lectures will be included, and will introduce/develop techniques for the written presentation of textual exegesis.
  • Seminars, which will be based on primary related texts, as well as suggested secondary reading, will both foster the student's cognitive and exegetical skills and provide an opportunity for the development of skills in oral communication through fuller discussion and debate of the topics covered in the lectures.
  • Summative essays will both develop (through feedback) and assess subject-specific understanding, cognitive and exegetical skills, and key skills of written communication and acquisition of information
  • An unseen examination will assess all stated learning outcomes and will include a compulsory question requiring students to present an exegesis of selected texts.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 22 One a week in MT, EpT, and EaT weeks 1-3 1 22
Seminars 9 Once a fortnight in MT and EpT 1 9
Student preparation & reading time associated with the contact hours listed above, formative and summative coursework, general background reading, revision for written examinations etc.: 168
SLAT Totals 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One summative essay 3000 words 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One 3000 word essay.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University