Center for Bible Study






Taught by Dr. Max Botner

Tuesdays at 7pm

January 17th - February 21st, 2023

In-person at St. Augustine/Hybrid

$50, pay here "Adult Ed"

Register HERE 


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6-Week Class Schedule


Week 1 (1/17/23): The World of the New Testament

  • The Jewish people among ancient Mediterranean cultures
  • The impact of Israel’s Scriptures
  • A walk through the New Testament canon


Week 2 (1/24/23): Jesus and the Gospels

  • What is a Gospel (book), and how is it related to the gospel (message)?
  • Why do we have four Gospels?
  • A walk through the Gospel of Mark


Week 3 (1/31/23): Acts of the Apostles

  • The narrative of Acts
  • Acts and Christian mission
  • How do we embody the story today? Acts 6:1-7 and Acts 15 as case studies.


Week 4 (2/7/23): Paul and His Letters

  • From persecutor of the Christ-followers to apostles to the gentiles
  • The nature of Paul’s letters
  • How to read someone else’s mail as Holy Scripture


Week 5 (2/14/23): Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles

  • The challenge of Hebrews
  • The Catholic Epistles and the nature of Christian identity
  • A walk through 1 John


Week 6 (2/21/23): Revelation

  • What is apocalyptic literature?
  • The occasion and purpose of Revelation
  • Strategies for reading Revelation wisely



Encounter the New Testament

Session 1: The World of the New Testament


Key Question: What are the major factors that shaped the world of Jesus and his early followers?


I. Exile and dispersion

  • 722 BC: Assyrian takes “Israel” (northern 10 tribes)
  • 586 BC: Babylon destroys the first temple and deports members of “Judah” (southern tribe)
  • 539 BC: Edict of Cyrus: exiles of Judah return (cf. Ezra 1:1-4; Isa 45:1-7)


II. Constructing Jewish Identity

  • ca. 515 BC: dedication of the Second Temple (destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD)
  • Hellenism: the impact of Greek culture
  • Anti-Judaism and Jewish approaches to the nations
    • The Maccabean revolt
    • Jewish apocalypticism
    • Living apart from and among the gentiles
  • Rome and the Herodian family
  • Schools of Judaism: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and zealots


III. Israel’s Scriptures

  • The narrative shape of Israel’s scriptures is for a post-exilic people and oriented toward a future in which the God of Israel (YHWH) will act definitively to liberate and establish the covenant people
  • Septuagint: Jewish scriptures in Greek (translations and original compositions)
  • Why do we have different Old Testament canons?


IV. The Shape of the New Testament Canon

  • Four Gospels: narratives about Jesus
  • Acts: narrative about the early church
  • 13 Letters of Paul: letters to churches (Romans-2 Thessalonians) and individuals (1 Timothy-Philemon) arranged by length
  • Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles: sermons and letters of Jewish-Christian leaders
  • Revelation: a prophetic apocalypse for the seven churches of Asia Minor


Resources for further study of the New Testament World


Cohen, Shaye J. D. From the Maccabees to the Mishnah. 3rd ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014.


Collins, John J. Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.


Evans, Craig A., and Stanley E. Porter, eds. IVP Dictionary of New Testament Background. Downers Grove: IVP, 2000.


Hylen, Susan E. Finding Phoebe: What New Testament Women Were Really Like. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2023.


Longenecker, Bruce W. The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016.


Magness, Jodi. The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.


Sanders, E. P. Judaism: Practice & Belief 63 BCE-66 CE. Reprint. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2016.