Fourth Thursday of the month (dates are below)
7:00 p.m. via Zoom Conference Call
The four Gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) offer us a diversity of images, stories and teachings that support our faith in Jesus Christ, our understanding of our relationship to God, and our connection to the work of the church birthed in the first century. This monthly class will offer an introduction to the four Gospels and their distinctive characteristics as well as the common threads among them. This class, taught by the Rev. Rebecca Kirkpatrick, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Mission, will focus on those who might be studying the Gospels for the first time, but it also will be a great opportunity for anyone to refresh their understanding of and engagement with the Gospels.
Recommended text: For this class we will focus primarily on the actual biblical texts rather than a scholar’s interpretation of the text. Any additional readings or suggested video clips will be linked below and correspond to their designated class. It doesn’t matter which translation of the Bible you use for your readings, but note that Rebecca will typically be teaching from the NRSV.
- Thursday, September 24
Introduction to the Gospels: Who were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?
In this first session, we will look at a general overview of the four canonical Gospels, their distinctiveness as well as the similar themes and arc of the Gospel story.
View a recording of the September class presentation here:
- Thursday, October 22
Births and Beginnings
Scholars believe the introductory materials in the Gospels were likely the final portions to be written, based more on the imagery and themes of each Gospel rather than historical accounts. In preparation for this class please read:
Matthew 1:1 - 2:23
- Thursday, December 3
Apocalypse and Endings
The Gospels are full of images of the world that is to come. Some colored by the politics and events of the first century, and some rooted in the Messianic traditions of the Old Testament. In this session, we will explore the vision that the Gospels offer for the future Kingdom of God. In preparation for this class please read - Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 17:20-37; John 14:1-31.
- Thursday, January 28
The Disciples and Those Who Followed Jesus
While Jesus of Nazareth is the main character of all four Gospels, his relationships with others define his ministry and his purpose. In this session, we will discuss characters like John the Baptist, the Twelve Disciples, and the women Jesus encountered, as we learn who Jesus was through his connection and calling to others.
- Thursday, February 25
The Teachings of Jesus - in Word and Deed
The Sermon on the Mount is considered to be the greatest compilation of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, but much of what we consider to be the values Jesus taught were expressed in his daily actions. In this session, we will survey the basic teachings found in the Gospels and how they inform our understanding of Christian life today.
- Thursday, March 25
The Parables - Stories Jesus Told
One of the unique elements of the teaching of the Gospels are found in more than 50 parables collected in the New Testament. In this session, we will look at the ways the Gospel writers edited parables to create a certain meaning, and the ways that parables can be interpreted for our modern experience without losing their ancient flavor.
- Thursday, April 22
The Miracles - Signs and Wonders
One of the hardest parts of the Gospels to wrap our modern sensibilities around are the numerous miracles that Jesus performed throughout the course of his ministry. In this session we will review some of the most prominent miracle stories and explore the significance of their inclusion in the Gospels.
- Thursday, May 27
Passion and Resurrection
All four Gospels end with the arrest, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this session, we will look at what makes each telling distinctive and the way the stories are told help us understand the significance of Jesus’ death, both as it relates to the historical elements and the theological traditions handed down to us.