1. New Testament
  2. Archeology
  3. Roman History

New Testament:

  1. Not written as a historical document (meaning, that it is not written for the sake of preserving an objectively accurate historical record), but as the articulation of a living faith of a community convicted of the truth of Christ as the Risen Lord.
  2. Inconsistencies and Contradictions within the New Testament account.
  3. Incompletion of the historical record.
  4. Issue of the canonization of the New Testament and the establishment of orthodoxy.


  •  We know certain things about the variety of ways in which ancient Judaism was practiced during the time of Jesus.
  •  Competing/Contrasting interpretations concerning what faithfulness to YHWH meant (e.g., Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Zealots)



    Roman History:

  •  Turbulent socio-historical milieu
  •  Threat of persecution and oppression from the Roman Empire
  •  Widespread spirit of unrest and many different religious alternatives  (e.g., mystery cults)



    [Albert Schweitzer:  Quest for the Historical Jesus

  • We know virtually nothing about who the historical Jesus actually was.
  • What we do know means that he was wrong  (i.e., Jesus as apocalyptic prophet)]





    1. New Testament
    2. Church Councils
    3. Christian Tradition

    New Testament:

    1. Gospels were written as a record of the significance of Jesus’ life and teachings for the contemporary life of faith.
    2. Epistles interpret Jesus’ significance as th Christ on a cosmic, or world-historical, scale.
    3. New Testament tells the history of the early Church


  •  Formation and Refinement of Orthodoxy
  •  Doctrine of the Incarnation:  the two natures of Christ – fully God and fully human
  •  Doctrine of the Trinity:  Economic and Immanent Trinity as means for expressing the ongoing salvific activity of God



     Major Branches of Christianity:
    1. Eastern Orthodox
    2. Roman Catholic
    3. Protestant