New Testament 102: Introduction

And so it begins. New Testament is first cab off the rank exam wise – and we’re looking at Acts (and by extension Luke) and a bunch of seemingly random epistles. Random because our lectures this semester were pretty random and we didn’t really cover half the books past papers cover.

Here’s what we know about the exam:

There are four questions on Acts (two to be answered).

And four questions on the following (two to be answered):

  • 1 & 2 Peter
  • 1 Corinthians (maybe)
  • Galatians
  • 1 & 2 Thessalonians
  • Hebrews
  • Ephesians
  • Colossians

What we also know
Bruce, our venerable lecturer, likes asking questions that help us develop our thinking in line with his thinking… so when it comes to Acts (and looking at the past papers) it’s likely that the (M Div and Grad Dip) questions will involve some element of the following (it’s also likely the answer will have something to do with the Graeco-Roman culture and its interaction with the issue at hand):

  • A question about the reliability of Acts (probably based loosely on the 6 volume “Book of Acts in its First Century Setting” series that he edited).
  • A question about Gallio’s judgment and its significance for Christians in the early church.
  • A question about Paul’s apologia at the Areopagus.
  • A question about the unity of Luke-Acts (which touches on rhetorical purpose etc)
  • Something about the repetition of the phrase “And the Word of the Lord grew and multiplied.” and its function within the book.
  • Something about the inclusion of legal terminology and court transcripts in the book (which may tie in with the Gallio question).

The B Th questions will quite possibly overlap with those issues – but they’ll also, I would think, include something about the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), Romans 14-15 and 1 Corinthians 8-11:1, which was an essay question for the M Div.

As to the next section, they really are anybody’s guess… but I’d say there’ll be something about:

  • The circumcision debate in Galatians
  • The rhetorical (as in first century public speaking) undertones of 1&2  Thessalonians
  • Something about the structure of Hebrews
  • Something about Peter’s views of virtue and Christian living in 1 and 2 Peter.
  • And something about different purposes, issues or audiences in Colossians and Ephesians.

Here are the questions from the last two exams (we don’t have photocopies of the B Th past paper. Sorry):

Section A
  • Discuss the nature and importance of the “Community of Goods” in the early Christian community. (2009)
  • How important was the Jerusalem Council decision for both Jewish and Gentile Christianity? (2009)
  • Was the Acts 17 speech before the Council of Areopagus Paul’s unsuccessful foray into the field of philosophical apologetics? (2009)
  • ‘He appears to be the herald of foreign divinities’. How does Paul herald his gospel before the Council of the Areopagus in Luke’s summary of this address? (2008)
  • Are the court room appearances of Paul in Caesarea Maritima a Lukan invention? (2009)
  • Discuss Luke’s recordings of the formal hearings the Jews verses Paul in Roman courts in Acts and the outcomes. What do they tell us about the status of early Christianity? (2008)
  • Is the ending of the Book of Acts Luke’s real ending of his second volume? (2009)
  • ‘And the Word of the Lord grew and multiplied’. Discuss this theme in Acts and show how Luke justifies this conclusion at the end of the various phases of the expansion of the early Christian mission. (2008)
  • Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus reveals not only his own modus operandi as a church planter but a somewhat pessimistic view of his expectations of the future of the Ephesian church. Discuss. (2008)
Section B
  • Is James an epistle of straw? (2009)
  • Betz wrote that the main issue in Galatians is, ‘How can the spiritual man live?’ Evaluate this view. (2009)
  • How much can we learn about the activities of Paul’s opponents from his letter to the Galatians? (2008)
  • In 1 & 2 Thessalonians, why does Paul go into so much detail about the parousia? (2009)
  • What are the differences and similarities between Paul’s letters to Ephesus and Colassae? (2009)
  • Explain the function of the warning cycles within Hebrews. (2009)
  • Discuss how the theme of ‘how much more’ unfolds in the letter to the Hebrews. (2008)
  • Discuss the plight of all humanity as Paul unfolds the need for salvation in the opening section of Romans and the solution he subsequently sets forth. (2008)
  • In the light of what Paul knew about the Corinthian church’s problems as he wrote 1 Corinthians, was he not being pastorally irresponsible to have addressed them as ‘sanctioned in Christ Jesus’ (1:2)? (2008)

To clear up any confusion about what books we should be studying, I’ve emailed Bruce and I’ll update this post when he replies.

UPDATE: Here’s the transcript of my email conversation with Bruce:

“A few of us are unclear about exactly what books we’re expected to cover for the NT exam. Could you shed some light on that please?

We covered lots of Acts (and I understand there are four questions on Acts), and then 1 & 2 Peter, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Galatians and a bit of Hebrews.

The past papers have questions on Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, and 1 Corinthians – are we meant to have covered those?”


“The exam will be on the books covered. The others will be covered either in NT or theology in the next 2 years so it is the books covered in class.”

Clarification question:

There is some confusion over the books we actually covered, are you able to provide a list that I can pass on to the google group?

Am I missing any books from my list in the original email? Did we cover enough of Hebrews for it to be examined?


“The books are as you stated and the issue on Hebrews dealt with was the unfolding of person and work of Christ as an overview if you remember. I distributed material on Thessalonians and Galatians.”

1 thought on “New Testament 102: Introduction”

  1. Just note that last year Bruce set the Acts questions (so they are a good guide) but Wes set the Non-Acts questions (so maybe not as much).

    In the Acts section last year I most prepared to answer: “Was the Acts 17 speech before the Coun­cil of Are­opa­gus Paul’s unsuc­cess­ful foray into the field of philosoph­i­cal apolo­get­ics?” because Bruce had written a paper on it which he had distributed to the class; and “Is the end­ing of the Book of Acts Luke’s real end­ing of his sec­ond vol­ume?” because it was related to one of the assignment questions.

    That’s my advice, look at the papers he distributed and the assignment topics he set and you’re bound to get at least two in each section you can answer well :-)

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