The Synoptic Gospels

The Synoptic Gospels

The Synoptic Gospels THL208 (Bachelor of Theology) is being taught in 2018 at United Theological College, Thursday mornings, by Dr Jeff Aernie.

The Synoptic Gospels investigates the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke as literary expressions of the development of early Christianity from its roots in Judaism. It explores these three Gospels in their historical, literary, socio-cultural and religious contexts. It assesses these Gospels as sources for understanding Jesus and also probes the puzzle of their interrelations. On a rotating basis, one of these Gospels provides the focus for detailed study of literary, historical and theological issues germane to its interpretation.

Call UTC to enrol for courses in 2018.
Phone 02 8838 8914
Office Hours: 9 am – 5 pm (Mon – Fri)

2018 UTC Education Prospectus – Downloadable PDF (2MB)

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to appraise critically the Synoptic Gospels in relation to similar contemporary writings
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the historical, socio-cultural and religious matrices of the Synoptic Gospels
  • be able to discuss critically the formation of the Synoptic Gospels
  • be able to discuss critically scholarly methods of gospel analysis such as form, source, redaction and narrative criticism
  • be able to articulate an understanding of scholarly assessments of the relations between the Synoptic Gospels
  • be able to articulate in a critically informed way key historical, literary and theological issues pertaining to the interpretation of one of the Synoptic Gospels
  • be able to demonstrate critical engagement with both the Gospels and secondary literature
  • be able to demonstrate developing competence in exegesis and interpretation of biblical texts
  • demonstrate self-guided learning, including research, writing and communication skills


The subject will cover the following topics:

  • introduction to the Synoptic Gospels
  • Gospel genre and other gospels
  • the Synoptic Gospels in their historical, socio-cultural and religious contexts
  • the relationship between the historical Jesus and Synoptic portraits of Jesus
  • the Synoptic problem: the relations between the Synoptic Gospels
  • distinctive features of the Synoptic Gospels
  • authorship, date, provenance and patristic traditions regarding one Synoptic Gospel
  • literary structure, key themes and interpretive challenges of one Synoptic Gospel
  • close reading of a key text(s) from one Synoptic Gospel
  • Jesus according to Matthew, Mark or Luke
  • the study of one Synoptic Gospel as a response to its social, cultural and religious milieu

Subject Enrolment Enquiry Session 1

Subject Enrolment Enquiry for Session 1 at UTC - for fully paid or audit enrolments.