This course covers the life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the four gospels. Emphasis is on the analysis of the four gospels in the context of the social, political, and religious conditions of the first century. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the background, purpose, message, and themes of the gospels and the significance of Jesus Christ in the first century and beyond. The lecture core of this course is a series of recorded lectures presented by noted television evangelist, author, and pastor of pastors Dr. Roderick C. Meredith.
Through this course, a student encounters the Judeo-Christianity of the Apostolic Period and explores the basic doctrines of Jesus of Nazareth and his teaching of the individuals he prepared as apostolic leaders of the Church of God. In this course, a student encounters the Gospels in a holistic manner through a verse-by-verse analysis of the biblical text. Use of a harmony of the Gospels provides the student with both a chronological approach to Jesus’ ministry and parallel accounts from the four Gospels. The course is an excellent opportunity for serious students of the Bible to develop a working familiarity of the culture of Jesus’ day and an understanding of the foundational truth of the Church of God which Jesus established.
Mr. Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA where he attended Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) for one year, majoring in history and government. Following that, he attended the three campuses of Ambassador College (later Ambassador University) in Big Sandy, Texas, USA; Bricket Wood, England; and Pasadena, California, USA.
In the summer of 1971 he participated in an archaeological project jointly sponsored by Ambassador College and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Upon graduation from Ambassador College with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology, he trained for the ministry in Canada and was ordained an elder in 1975. He pastored Canadian congregations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario for twenty-six years before returning to the United States where he served as a Living Church of God pastor in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. He is married, father of four children (one of whom is Living University faculty member, Annette Triplett) and grandfather of seven. In 2014, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Christian Studies with an emphasis in Pastoral Ministry at Grand Canyon University. Presently, he serves at the Living University campus as instructor, Registrar and Director of Admissions.
On successful completion of this course, a student should be able to:
- Trace the events and statements involved in Jesus’ life in a logical and chronological sequence;
- Describe the significance of the words and works of Jesus Christ in light of the historical, geographical, and cultural context of the Gospels;
- Demonstrate an understanding of God’s overall plan of redemption and the implications of the basic truths revealed in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ;
- Show the harmony of the four gospels and dispel any questions of the so-called “contradictory facts” found in each of them;
- Demonstrate an understanding of how the life and ministry of Christ relates to prophecy, first-century Jewish and Christian life, and beyond;
In this course there are three required textbooks. We also have listed three optional books that we believe can help you consider the realities of the biblical world in Jesus’ day. In the lessons we have provided you with links to electronic copies of various booklets and articles that are either required or optional reading, so your basic cost is the three textbooks. If you decide to purchase the three optional books we suggest paperback copies. There is no cost for the electronic copies of the booklets and articles.
Your three textbooks for this course are:
- Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. ISBN 9780801039645.
- Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Readings from the First-Century World: Primary Sources for New Testament Study. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998. ISBN: 978080121572.
- Robertson, A.T. A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ (American Standard Version). New York: Harper & Row, 1950. ISBN: 9780060668907.
If you would like to have a harmony in modern English, the following has references in the lessons but the order of this NASB Thomas & Gundry harmony is at times different than that of Robertson.
Thomas, Robert L,. and Stanley N. Gundry. A Harmony of the Gospels (New American Standard Version). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. ISBN 9780060635244.
For theology courses students must have a Bible in addition to their textbooks. The theology faculty recommends a New King James edition of the Bible (NKJV). There are many editions available, but for student use we suggest the NKJV Study Bible (2nd edition) in either the regular or large print editions.
- The regular edition is available in Bonded Black Leather (ISBN 9780718020804) at Amazon through the University Bookstore for about $22 plus sales tax and shipping charges.
- The large print edition is available in Black Bonded Leather (ISBN 9781418542108) and sells for about $72 plus sales tax and shipping from Amazon through the University Bookstore.
There are five optional books, available in paperback, that we believe can be helpful in your consideration of some of the topics in this course and which should assist you in your study in other LU theology courses. These books are optional, that is we list them for your consideration but they are not in any way required. They are:
Fisher, George P. State of the Roman World at the Birth of Christ. Whitefish, Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2003. ISBN 9780766141766.
Eldersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah: New Updated Edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993. ISBN 9780943575834.
Jeffers, James S. The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1999. ISBN 9780830815890.
Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vol. 2. Rockville, Maryland: Wildside Press, 2004. ISBN 9780809592364.
Stark, Rodney. The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religous Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries. New York: HarperOne, 1997. ISBN 9780060677015.
Commentaries normally can help you with a writing assignment. We have found three that have proven useful. You might consider adding them to your library over time. They are:
New Bible Commentary. Eds. G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carlson and R.T. France. 21st Century Edition. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1994. ISBN: 9780830814428.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. New Testament Set, 5-Volumes (includes volumes 8-12). Eds. Frank E. Gaebelein (general editor) and J.D. Douglas (associate editor). Grand Rapids: Zondervan. ISBN 9780310365686.
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999. ISBN 9780310265702.
Note: The textbooks, commentaries and reference books in this course are commercial publications. They represent the views and ideas of their authors, editors, and publishers. Living University does not endorse these publications nor does it vouch for their accuracy. We simply employ them in helping students master the content of the course.
As a Bible student, one needs to consult Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and biblically related magazine or journal articles for information. When doing this a student has to sort out the wheat from the chaff. That is, the student must have sufficient grounding in the Bible to sort out the correct from the incorrect, the plausible from the implausible. This is a critical thinking skill, one we want students to develop further in this course and in all LU courses.
The basic textbook we selected, Elwell and Yarbrough’s Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey, is a conservative approach written in an easy to read and well laid out fashion. This book has some material that is helpful, and some that is not. In the setting of this course, we want students not only to discern the difference but also to know why there is a difference. Our quest is to help students to “rightly divide the word of God” (2 Tim. 2:15 KJV).
Moreover, in daily life and particularly in the life of ministers, you will encounter people who identify with the thinking of this book’s authors. For example, many if not most Protestants and Roman Catholics believe that the Kingdom of God exists today and equate it with the church or salvation. We hold that Jesus and the Apostles taught primarily that the Kingdom of God was not to come into being until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Part of a good theological and biblical education is coming to understand what others believe and why they believe it. You need to develop sufficient understanding and skills that you can demonstrate and effectively communicate what the truth of God is in such matters.
We will only deal with Chapters 2, 3, and 9 of the text in this course. We plan to use this same text in THL 136 (Acts and the Writings of Paul) and THL 332 (The Biblical Text), therefore, you should get a reasonable return on your investment. Our suggestion is that you take the time to mark the text, correcting errors and underlining helpful points, so it can be a useful handbook for you. The paper the publisher selected for this text and its widemargins lend themselves to note taking. We suggest you use a fine point Pilot pen.
This course includes lectures by former evangelist Dr. Roderick C. Meredith. Dr. Meredith has taught this course to thousands of students over the span of four decades. His recorded lectures, designed specifically for this online course, help students master the details of the original Christianity of the Church in the first century and explore the basic doctrines of Jesus of Nazareth and his teaching of those he prepared as apostles and leaders of the early Church.
Links to lectures are on the individual lesson webpages. The lectures in this course are expositions of the Gospels, using Robertson's A Harmony of the Gospels, providing students with a verse-by-verse analysis and explication of the Gospels. The focus is upon the literal content and meaning of the written gospel texts in their first-century context. Students should use the opportunity to make notes in their harmonies.
|Lesson||Readings (this is not an exhaustive list, some additional readings will be added during the semester)|
|Lesson 1 Introduction|
|Topic 1 The Near East in the Days of Jesus||Elwell & Yarbrough Encountering Chapter 2 (pp. 21-51)
Comments on Elwell & Yarbrough Chapter 2
Elwell & Yarbrough Readings (pp. 17-23, 25-30)
|Topic 2 The Gospel Accounts||Robertson §1 (p. 1) or Thomas & Gundry §1 (p. 19)
Elwell & Yarbrough Encountering Chapter 3 (pp. 69-76)
Comments on Elwell & Yarbrough Chapter 3
Elwell & Yarbrough Readings (pp. 30-37)
|Topic 3 His Pre-Existence and Birth Preparations||Robertson §2 (p. 2)
Armstrong Is Jesus God?
Meredith Who Was the God of the Old Testament?
Meredith Your Ultimate Destiny
|Topic 4 Jesus’ Birth, Boyhood, and Baptism by John||Robertson §§3-24 (pp. 3-20)
Ogwyn Is Christmas Christian?
|Lesson 2 Christ at Jerusalem, in Samaria and His Arrival at Galilee|
|Topic 1 The Temptation & His Travel to Capernaum||Robertson §§25-30 (pp. 20-24)
Meredith Do You Believe the True Gospel?
|Topic 2 First Cleansing of the Temple at Passover||Robertson §31 (p. 25)
Pritz Who Is a Jew in the Gospels?
|Topic 3 Nicodemus Seeks Jesus and John Superseded||Robertson §§32-33 (pp. 25-27)
Ogwyn What Do You Mean – “Born Again”?
|Topic 4 Jesus Departs Judea, in Samaria at Jacob’s Well and Sychar, and His Opposition at Nazareth||Robertson §§34-39 (pp. 27-32)
Safrai Synagogue and Sabbath
Elwell & Yarbrough Readings (pp. 66-70)
|Lesson 3 Beginning of Christ’s Ministry in Galilee|
|Topic 1 A New Headquarters, Disciples Called, and Ministry Throughout Galilee||Robertson §§40-48 (pp. 32-41)|
|Topic 2 Sabbath Controversies and Withdrawal||Robertson §§49-52 (pp. 42-47)
Elwell & Yarbrough Readings (pp. 87-92)
Meredith Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?
|Topic 3 Appointment of “The Twelve”||Robertson §53 (pp. 47-48)|
|Topic 4 Sermon on the Mount||Robertson §54 (pp. 48-55)
Meredith What Is a True Christian?
|EXAM 1 Covering Lessons 1-3 (100 points). Time for completion: 1 hour (60 minutes)|
|Lesson 4 Jewish Conflicts & The Kingdom of God|
|Topic 1 Growing Reputation and Emphasis on Repentance||Robertson §§55-60 (pp. 55-61)
Elwell & Yarbrough Encountering Chapter 9 (pp. 123-137)
Comments on Elwell & Yarbrough Chapter 9
Elwell & Yarbrough Readings (pp. 70-73)
Laughlin "Capernaum: From Jesus’ Time and After" Biblical Archaeology Review 19:05 (Sep/Oct 1993).
|Topic 2 Public Rejection by Jewish Leaders||Robertson §§61-63 (pp. 61-64)
McNair The Sign of Jonah
|Topic 3 Parables and The Kingdom of God||Robertson §64 (pp. 64-70)
Ogwyn Lessons from the Parables of the Kingdom
Meredith God’s Kingdom is a REAL Government!
|Topic 4 Continuing Opposition||Robertson §§65-71 (pp. 70-84)|
|Lesson 5 The Ministry of Christ Around Galilee|
|Topic 1 Teaching Around the Sea of Galilee||Robertson §§72-77 (pp. 85-94)|
|Topic 2 Ministry in Gentile Territories||Robertson §§78-81 (pp. 94-99)|
|Topic 3 Special Training of the Twelve||Robertson §§82-95 (pp. 99-113)|
|Topic 4 Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem||Robertson §§96-101 (pp. 114-120)|
|Lesson 6 Concluding Ministry in Judea, Perea and Jerusalem|
|Topic 1 Later Judean Ministry||Robertson §§102-111 (pp. 120-130)
Elwell & Yarbrough Readings (pp. 57-59)
Ames Have You Committed the Unpardonable Sin?
|Topic 2 Perean Ministry||Robertson §§112-116 (pp. 131-135)
Buth That Small-fry Herod Antipas, or When a Fox Is Not a Fox
Elwell & Yarbrough Readings (pp. 37-42)
|Topic 3 Lazarus and the Rich Man/Resurrection of Lazarus||Robertson §§117-121 (pp. 135-141)
Armstrong Lazarus and the Rich Man
|Topic 4 At Jerusalem Before Passover||Robertson §§122-142 (pp. 141-188)
Meredith Prophecy Fulfilled: God's Hand in World Affairs
|EXAM 2 Covering Lessons 4-6 (100 points). Time for completion: 1 hour (60 minutes).|
|Lesson 7 The Last Supper, His Arrest and Trial|
|Topic 1 The First Christian Passover: Its Purpose and Meaning||Robertson §§143-152 (pp. 189-204)|
|Topic 2 The First Christian Passover: Its Chronology||Chart of the Crucifixion/ResurrectionWeek
Passion Week Events
|Topic 3 Jesus’ Arrest||Robertson §153 (pp. 205-208)
Elwell & Yarbrough Readings (pp. 42-44)
|Topic 4 Jesus’ Trial||Robertson §§154-162 (pp. 209-226)
Hoeh Twelve Reasons Why Jesus’ Trial was Illegal
|Lesson 8 The Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ|
|Topic 1 The Crucifixion and Burial||Robertson §§163-168 (pp. 226-238)
Germano Draft Section of The First Christians Chapter 4
Nathan How Did Jesus Christ Die?
Tzaferis "Crucifixion: The Archaeological Evidence" Biblical Archaeology Review 11:01 (Jan/Feb 1985)
Kloner "Did a Rolling Stone Close Jesus' Tomb? Biblical Archaeology Review 25:05 (Sep/Oct 1999)
|Topic 2 The Resurrection||Robertson §§169-172 (pp. 239-242)
Ogwyn The Resurrection Was Not on Easter Sunday!
|Topic 3 Post-Resurrection Appearances||Robertson §§173-183 (pp. 242-251)
Elwell & Yarbrough Encountering Chapter 8 (pp. 118-119)
|Topic 4 The Ascension||Robertson § 184 (pp. 251-252)|
|EXAM 3 Covering Lessons 7-8 (100 points). Time for completion: 1 hour (60 minutes). PROCTOR REQUIRED|
Due dates and extensions
Submit all assignments on or before the due date. No late or make-up assignments will be allowed except for extreme circumstances (permission of instructor is necessary). Students must complete the course by the last official day of instruction as set forth in the academic calendar.
To officially begin this course you must complete an icebreaker assignment by which you introduce yourself to your classmates through posting a short autobiography on the course Discussion Forum. A student will earn points by posting the autobiography on time. These points could make the difference between an A or a B, or passing or not passing.
- The icebreaker assignment must be submitted not later than the assigned deadline.
- Post your biography as a reply to the "Icebreaker" topic on the lesson “Welcome and Overview” Discussion Forum.
- Please read and comment on at least two other bios by the due date in order to get credit.
- Full credit for this assignment will only be given if all three of the above requirements are met.
Do NOT create a NEW discussion. Simply tell the class about yourself and your goals. This is not the place for a profession of faith, or the details your conversion experience, or problems you have had with previous fellowships, as that information is more of a private nature. Here you inform your classmates what you would like them to know about you. As we have people from all over the world enrolled in this course each autobiography will help us know, understand and appreciate each other.
Refer to the “Course calendar” section for information about reading assignments. Final reading assignments are located on the individual lesson pages at the course website.
Each student will have the opportunity to post online comments to a forum question for each lesson. This will enable students to interact with each other and with the instructor.
All writing assignments in this course should follow the MLA 8 format common to many universities. Documents and links to learn this format are provided in the course. Please cite your sources and use quotation marks where needed. The files feature on an assignment submission pages lets you submit your work so your instructor can have it handy for download, review, and grading.
Distance learning emphasizes self-motivation. The instructor functions as a facilitator with the student as the driving force in mastering course content. Students are encouraged not to put off completing their readings and assignments. While there are many different learning styles, the following strategy should serve the needs of most students.
- Look over assigned readings.
- Read the assigned readings,making notes before viewing the assigned lecture.
- Define terms in the lesson. The three exams will specifically test basic terminology. Students should develop their biblical and theology vocabulary as they proceed lesson by lesson.
- As students view lectures,they should complete their notes.
- Complete the answers for the lesson writing assignment.
- Participate in course discussions.
- Each week students should review notes, geographical terms and locations, and the words they defined.
- If a student has a question, ask. Questions should arise in the teaching-learning process. By bringing questions to our attention, students not only acquire assistance but they also maintain the interaction necessary in higher education. To submit a question just click on the instructor’s name on the “Course Info” page and send your question by email through the Populi system.
Quizzes and examinations
Each of the eight lessons has an associated online quiz of no more than 20 questions. They are open book quizzes, but under no circumstances are students to print the quiz. An open book quiz is not a workbook exercise. It is a test where the student can consult his or her notes and books. Students have one hour to complete each quiz. Quizzes are multiple-choice questions covering lectures, readings, vocabulary words, and geographical terms and places.
The three exams in this course are all to be taken as closed book; however you are only required to have a proctor for Exam 3. For more information on the proctored exam, see Proctored Exams below.
A course grade will be determined based on the number of points a student has earned over the semester as follows:
Icebreaker Assignment (25 points)
Writing Assignments (three, each worth 60 points, for a total of 180 points)
Discussions(five, each worth 30 points, for a total of 150 points)
Quizzes (eight, each worth 40 points, for a total of 320 points; online, open book)
Exams (three, each worth 100 points, for a total of 300 points; online, closed book; Exam 3 must be proctored)
Course Evaluation (25 points)
TOTAL 1,000 points
Grades are in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning, we believe that the measure of mastery of course subject matter is completion of 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want students to earn at least 800 points in this course. If they do not do so then they have not achieved the level of the mastery we would like them to have.
We want this course to be competency-based and so it is possible for the entire class to receive an A or a B. There is no artificial curving of scores in the assignment of grades. Mastery of the material is what one’s goal should be.
Grades, assigned by points, are as follows:
A - 900 and over
B - 800-899 points
C - 700-799 points
D - 600-699 points
F - Below 600 points
One of the three online exams (Exam 3) in this course requires a proctor. A proctored exam is one that is overseen by an impartial individual (called a proctor) who monitors or supervises a student while he or she is taking an exam. The proctor ensures the security and integrity of the exam process. The proctoring process helps assure that the student who takes a proctored examination in a course is the same person who enrolled in the course and that examination results reflect the student’s own knowledge and competence.
Students should present valid government-issued photo identification to their proctor before taking an exam to confirm their identity unless the proctor presonally knows the student being tested. In order for a proctored exam grade to be recorded, a signed Proctor's Signature Form (PSF) must be sent to LU. The form is unnecessary in the case of ProctorU. No graded proctored exam will be returned to the student or to the exam proctor.
Students have several choices for completing the proctored exam:
- A student can come to campus for an exam. The instructor will establish a specific campus classroom, date and time for the student to come to LU and complete the exam with the instructor or his or her representative. To make an appointment, contact your instructor by email or telephone.
- A student can utilize a Living Church of God church officer (i.e. elder, deacon or deaconess), or an appointed, minister-approved church leader. In the case of the latter, the minister should provide an email endorsing the appointed proctor.
- A student can use ProctorU online. ProctorU is a service that LU faculty may utilize for proctoring online exams. ProctorU allows students to conveniently and securely complete assigned exams using almost any webcam. With a computer and approved webcam, a student can take online exams at home, at work, or almost anywhere they have Internet access. ProctorU connects students directly to their proctor via webcam so they both see and talk to one another. ProctorU can also monitor a student's computer while the student completes the exam. Students pay ProctorU directly for this service. LU does not reimburse students for proctoring fees incurred. To view a demo video on how this service works, or to sign up and schedule testing appointments, the Living University portal is located at www.proctoru.com/portal/livinguniv. For ProctorU no Proctor's Signature Form (PSF) is needed.
- A student can use a college or university testing center. There is usually a fee for this service. LU does not reimburse students for proctoring fees incurred.
- A student can have an approved proctor. This may be a school offical, such as a teacher or registrar, or a librarian who is not related to the student.
- In a case of unusual hardship a student may request an alternate arrangement. To do so please contact your instructor as soon as possible.
All university students should present proper photo identification to their proctor before taking an exam unless the proctor personally knows the student being tested. In order for a proctored exam grade to be recorded, a signed Proctor's Signature Form (PSF) must be sent to LU. Provide the approved proctor with a copy of the Proctor's Signature Form (PSF) and a stamped envelope with appropriate postage paid, addressed as follows.
2301 Crown Centre Drive
Charlotte, Nc 28227-7705
Students have the responsibility for conducting themselves in such a manner as to avoid any suspicion that they are improperly giving or receiving aid on any assignment or examination. An academic irregularity not only includes cheating but also includes plagiarism (taking another's ideas and/or words and presenting them as if they were the writer's own) and the submitting of the same paper in separate courses without prior consent from the faculty members concerned. In cases of suspected academic irregularity, faculty members may refuse to grade such papers or examinations, completely or in part, and to record each of them as a failure. If an academic irregularity is sufficiently serious, the University may take one or more of, but not limited to, the following actions:
- Drop the student from the course with a grade of F
- Place the student on academic probation
- Dismiss the student from the University