The New Testament letters or epistles offer us a glimpse of the conversations and conflicts of the early Christians. These letters were written to establish and shape the thinking and practices of emergent Christian communities in the near east and Roman Empire. They have an enduring role in shaping our understanding of the early church and continue to be used as theological sources for the practices and theology of contemporary Christian communities. In this unit, the authorship and historical context of the letters is discussed and their inclusion in the canon is explored from theological and historical angles. Students will engage with the literary form and structure of the letters and identify the rhetorical techniques that differentiate these from the Gospels and other biblical texts. This unit will encourage students to consider the continuing influence of these letters on Christian thought and practice and understand their contemporary use.

Unit code: BN3002Z

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: New Testament

Proposing College: St Francis College

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Learning outcomes


Discuss the authorship and audience of the New Testament letters.


Use literary analysis to understand the form and purpose of New Testament letters.


Discuss the theology and ethics of the Pauline letters.


Understand and analyse common themes across biblical texts for a contemporary audience.

Unit sequence

Perquisites for this unit are 2 first year and one second year Biblical Studies units.


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

Indicative Bibliography

  • Sanders, E. P. (2015). Paul: The Apostle's Life, Letters, and Thought. Fortress Press. ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0800629564

  • Gorman, Michael J. (2004). Apostle of the Crucified Lord: a theological introduction to Paul and his letters. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802839343.

  • Smith, David A. 2020. The epistles for all Christians: epistolary literature, circulation, and the gospels for all Christians. Brill.

  • Brodie, Thomas L., Dennis R. MacDonald, and Stanley E. Porter. 2006. The intertextuality of the Epistles: explorations of theory and practice. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Seminar or Tutorial - Bible Reading and Reflection

Students will choose a topic/week to lead the discussion. Following their bible reading students will reflect on their experience of preparing for a leading a bible reading and discussion.

1500 25.0
Exegesis - Exegesis and Letter

This assessment item has two (2) components. Part one (1): write a detailed exegesis (1500 words) on a passage from one of the seven (7) ‘genuine’ Pauline letters. Part two (2) Letter (750-1000 words) written to a contemporary scenario provided by the lecturer.

2500 40.0
Oral Presentation - Oral Presentation

Compare and contrast two passages from the New Testament letters on a common theme (10 minute presentation, 10 minutes for discussion) as either an academic presentation or a sermon (presentation/sermon topics to be provided in Week 10, and two (2) passages are provided seven (7) days prior to the assessment due date)

1500 35.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 26 May, 2023

Unit record last updated: 2023-05-26 16:09:05 +1000