1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
1 THEO1201 - Interpreting the New Testament
1a Admission into GCTHS-Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies
1b Admission into GDPTHS-Graduate Diploma in Theological Studies
1c Admission into MTHS-Master of Theological Studies
Must Satisfy: ((1 or 1a or 1b or 1c))
Enrolment not permitted
1 of THEO2203, THEO8206 has been successfully completed
Topic description
This topic studies the letters of the apostle Paul, one of the most important collections of early Christian writings in the New Testament. Through employing different exegetical methods and comparing the letters attributed to Paul (authentic and pseudonymous) students will gain an appreciation of the different contexts in which and to which Paul addressed his gospel and how Paul was subsequently interpreted. Key issues related to the expansion of Christianity into new cultures, the struggle to find a stable community identity and existence amidst a hostile environment and the demands of ethnic diversity will be investigated. Implications for contemporary missional practice arising from new interpretations of Paul's thought will also be addressed.
Educational aims
The aims of this topic are to:

  • develop an appreciation of the genuine letters of Paul as communications addressing specific concerns of particular communities in the Mediterranean world of late antiquity
  • expand the skills of exegetical methods in the handling of the text of the New Testament by concentrating on the letters of Paul
  • cultivate an awareness and utilisation of the cultural influences operating on communities, leaders and text-production in the world of late antiquity
  • appreciate the tensions and issues of multi-ethnic, environmental and political relationships in the ancient world and their impact upon the development of fledgling Christian communities
  • nurture an appreciation of different ways of interpreting texts and the critical skills necessary to assess a variety of interpretations
  • foster research skills in the discovery, use and application of tools and aids in a variety of media for the critical analysis of Pauline writings
  • promote an appreciation of the contribution of the Pauline corpus to ecclesial and theological formation
  • encourage clear thinking, presentation of argument, communication of ideas, and quality of discussion

Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic participants should be able to demonstrate:

  • the ability to formulate and communicate ideas cogently in respectful collaboration with co-learners
  • critical reading of letters of Paul and Christian literature from the 1st Century CE
  • cultural and social awareness of some of the issues and struggles facing the growth of some early Christian communities
  • exegetical skills in interpreting early Christian texts
  • research skills of identifying, accessing and understanding relevant primary and secondary sources
  • hermeneutical sensitivity to the implications of the study of Paul's letters and his communities