This unit provides an introduction to New Testament history, texts and theology. Beginning with the letters of Paul as the earliest extant Christian literature and surveying the development of gospel literature as well as other forms of early Christian writing, it considers the rise of the early Christian movement and explores the range of developing theological beliefs that characterised the first two generations of early Christianity. In using the New Testament texts as the main source for investigation, the unit draws attention to the diversity of texts, genres, theologies and perspectives within the New Testament itself and considers a number of critical historical, literary and theological issues that emerge from the study of New Testament texts.

Unit code: BN8019P

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: New Testament

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Identify the different genres of New Testament literature and the forms of critical analysis appropriate to their interpretation.


Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the New Testament texts, the historical development of early Christianity and emerging theological convictions within the Christian movement.


Write a critical historical analysis of one episode in early Christian history, demonstrating an awareness of scholarly debate and identifying strengths and weaknesses in scholarly argument.


Write a critical exegetical study of one early Christian text, exploring the historical, literary and theological issues raised by the text demonstrating an awareness of scholarly debate and identifying strengths and weaknesses in scholarly argument.


Engagement with online learning materials, tasks, and tutorial discussion

Indicative Bibliography

  • Achtemeier, Paul J., Joel B. Green and Marianne Meye Thompson. Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.
  • Boring, M. Eugene. An Introduction to the New Testament: History, Literature, Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2012.
  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament ABRL. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
  • Dunn, James D. G. Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity. 2nd ed. London: SCM, 1990.
  • Dunn, James D. G. Christianity in the Making, Volume 2: Beginning from Jerusalem. Grand Rapids / Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2009.
  • Hagner, Donald A. The New Testament: A Historical and Theological Introduction. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012.
  • Koester, Helmut. Introduction to the New Testament Volume One: History, Culture and Religion of the Hellenistic Age; Volume Two: History and Literature of Early Christianity Hermeneia: Foundations and Facets. Philadelphia / Berlin and New York: Fortress / Walter de Gruyter, 1982.
  • McDonald, Lee Martin and Stanley E. Porter, eds. Early Christianity and Its Sacred Literature. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2000.
  • Rowland, Christopher. Christian Origins: The Setting and Character of the Most Important Messianic Sect of Judaism. 2nd ed. London: SPCK, 2002.
  • Schnelle, Udo. The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings. Translated by M. Eugene Boring. London: SCM, 1998.
  • Theissen, Gerd. The New Testament: History, Religion, Literature. Translated by John Bowden. London / New York: T & T Clark, 2003.
  • Wedderburn, Alexander J. M. A History of the First Christians Understanding the Bible and Its World. London / New York: Continuum, 2004.
  • Wright, N. T. The New Testament and the People of God. London: SPCK, 1992.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Exegetical Essay

Exegetical paper (2500 words)

2500 40.0
Seminar or Tutorial

Online Tutorial Contributions and Summary Blog Post (1000 words)

1000 20.0

Essay (2500 words)

2500 40.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2014

Unit record last updated: 2020-11-04 14:10:44 +1100