Introduction to the New Testament

Next Session: Jun 14, 2021


Created by Rev. Jerome Neyrey, S.J., a Notre Dame Theology Professor, the goal of this course is an adult appreciation and understanding of the New Testament scripture texts. And we aim to accomplish this by equipping you with the cultural, literary, and historical understandings necessary for a critical reading of the New Testament. The course will introduce participants to the New Testament through a close reading of five selected texts. During the five units of this course, participants will read two gospels (Matthew and Mark), an historical writing on the early church (Acts of the Apostles) and two letters, one surely from Paul (Philemon) and the other most likely from a disciple of Paul's (Ephesians). Five documents, but in three differing genres: gospel-biography, history, and letter. Each genre had its own convention and its distinctive literary contents (e.g. healings, controversies, parables).

Course Content

Unit 1: Introduction to the Catholic approach to Scripture and Biblical criticism

  1. Introduction to Gospels
  2. The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (Pontifical Biblical Commission)
  3. Dei Verbum (II Vatican Council constitution on divine revelation)

Unit 2: Gospel of Matthew

Unit 3: Gospel of Mark

Unit 4: Ancient Letters; the Letters of Paul; Philemon; Ephesians

  1. Introduction to ancient letters (types and conventions)
  2. Philemon
  3. Ephesians

Unit 5: Acts of the Apostles

Course Format

  • Created by Notre Dame Theology Professor.
  • Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Lecture delivered by video player.
  • All lecture text available online in text format.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Facilitator-moderated chat sessions with students in the course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • View or read the lecture for each unit.
  • Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Write 150-200 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 35 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.


Rev. Jerome Neyrey, S.J.

Rev. Jerome Neyrey, S.J.

Within New Testament studies, Rev. Neyrey claims competence in Greco-Roman philosophy, rhetoric and study of the progymnasmata. His scholarship includes two books each on Matthew and Luke and Paul, and a book on John. He authored the Anchor Bible commentary 2 Peter, Jude. His research articles have touched on all the gospels, most of Paul's letters, Hebrews, and topics such as miracles and prayer. Rev. Neyrey's current research project is God, In Other Words: Cultural Interpretation of the Christian Deity. His main scholarly effort has long been on the use of social science models and concepts for the interpretation of biblical documents. This enterprise has been captured in his recent book on Matthew, Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew, and the book he co-authored with Bruce Malina on Paul, Portraits of Paul, An Archaeology of Ancient Personality. He currently sits on four editorial boards for journals with a New Testament focus.

B.A., 1963, and M.A., 1964, Saint Louis University; M.Div., 1970, and M.T.H., 1972, Regis College, Toronto; Ph.D., 1977, Yale University