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    The interpretation of the New Testament in its historical context, including an introduction to critical methods and to the study of the Gospels and the Epistles, with an in-depth discussion of selected texts.

    The paper offers an introduction to the interpretation of the New Testament. It includes study of the world from which the New Testament writings emerged, an introduction to methods of interpretation, the interpretation of selected texts, and a study of the New Testament evidence about Jesus and the apostle Paul.
    Methods of interpretation introduced here will be helpful for all students who are interested in reading historical documents and in developing their skills in critical and reflective thinking.

    About this paper

    Paper title Interpreting the New Testament
    Subject Biblical Studies
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period(s) Semester 1 (Distance learning)
    Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    BIBX 121
    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.

    Professor Paul Trebilco:

    Teaching staff

    Professor Paul Trebilco:

    Paper Structure

    The paper is divided into modules that cover:

    • The world of the New Testament
    • Methods of interpretation
    • The portrayals of Jesus and Paul in the New Testament
    • A close reading of a section of Mark's Gospel and of 1 Corinthians


    • Two essays (20% each)
    • A 3-hour exam (60%)
    Teaching Arrangements

    The Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely.

    Campus: Three one-hour lectures per week.
    Distance: Six 2-hour videoconferences on Zoom spaced throughout the semester.


    Textbooks are not required for this paper.

    Course outline

    View the course outline

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    This paper has four broad learning outcomes. By the end of it you will be able to:

    • Describe the major social, political, and religious features of the first century Jewish world
    • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the most common methods of biblical interpretation
    • Discuss some of the historical issues surrounding the life and work of both Jesus and the apostle Paul
    • Understand and explain selected texts, using the methods of biblical interpretation


    Semester 1

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

    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
    Tuesday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
    Thursday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
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