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BIBS224 Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles

An investigation of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, focusing on the theological themes, narrative and literary approaches, and historical issues.

We will look at the theological themes in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts and examine the picture of Jesus that is presented, as well as the portrayal of the development of the early church from its Palestinian Jewish origins to the wider Roman Empire. Selected texts will be examined in depth, so as to analyse key interpretive issues and develop analytical skills in reading and interpreting New Testament literature.

Paper title Special Topic: The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles
Paper code BIBS224
Subject Biblical Studies
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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36 100-level points
BIBX 224
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
Any student can study Theology, whether they are of the Christian faith, another faith or of no religious faith at all. Theology is an examination of the scriptures, history, content and relevance of the Christian faith, but it presupposes or requires no Christian commitment from students. All it requires is an inquiring mind and an interest in those skills that can be gained through the study of any subject in the Humanities.
Teaching staff
Lecturer: Dr Don Moffat
Paper Structure
The following topics will be covered:
  1. Luke as author of Luke-Acts; a brief review of the relationship of the Gospel of Luke to the Synoptic Gospels; an examination of sources and the goals of the writer; whether Luke-Acts can be treated seriously as a historical source
  2. What is Luke's understanding about Jesus? What does his portrayal of Jesus say about his audience, his view of discipleship and his understanding of the mission of God? How is this picture of Jesus developed in the Book of Acts?
  3. Analysis of the scope and content of Luke's language of salvation; the presentation of the message of salvation in Acts, particularly in the speeches by Peter and Paul
  4. The significance of the death of Jesus for the author of Luke-Acts; how the death of Jesus is presented and portrayed in Acts; the implications of the death of Jesus for Judaism in Stephen's speech
  5. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in Luke and Acts? The Spirit in the ministry of Jesus; the Spirit among the disciples and in the ministry of the Church; the Spirit as initiator and superintendent of mission; the Spirit at work with Philip, Peter and Paul
  6. The nature of the church in Luke-Acts. What is the church and how does it develop in the early years? How is the Church constituted? How does it function? What are the conditions of entry and belonging?
  7. How is discipleship conceived in Luke-Acts? What are the marks of a Christian, and what are the expectations/obligations of the Christian life? Jesus and Paul as models
  8. Eschatology in Luke-Acts; the understanding of salvation history and interpretation of the Old Testament in Luke-Acts; the implications of Jesus' death and resurrection for Luke's worldview and expectations of the future
  9. Detailed exegetical study of Luke 15; the parables of the lost sheep, coin and son
  10. Detailed exegetical study of Luke 20; the political challenge and provocation of Jesus
  11. Detailed exegetical study of Acts 13; Paul the missionary and his preaching
  12. Detailed exegetical study of Acts 15; leaders in the Church and the nature of Christian "conversion"
  • Essay (2,200 words) 30%
  • Online discussion 10%
  • Exam (three hours) 60%
Teaching Arrangements
Campus: There will be one 2-hour lecture each week.

Distance: In addition to videoconferenced lectures, there will be one teaching day and one 1-hour videoconference specifically for distance students.
Distance students are invited to join weekly videoconferences. However, recordings will be available on Blackboard for students who cannot attend live.

Textbooks are not required for this paper. 

Course outline

View the course outline for BIBS 224

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes
Learning Outcomes
On successfully completing this paper students will be able to
  • Identify and describe distinctive themes of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts
  • Outline the distinctive theological features of the portrait of Jesus, the view of the Holy Spirit and the understanding of the Church in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts
  • Identify the literary features of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts and the literary and narrative parallels between the two books
  • Evaluate the arguments presented for the sources of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts.

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system