Trinity College

Living Tradition: Reading the New Testament

Course Code: 
Last Offered: 
Summer 2021
Next Offered: 
Fall 2022

This course is a required survey of the New Testament books in their historical and religious background with attention to hermeneutics, the patristic exegetical heritage, and modern biblical studies. The New Testament will be read in its entirety in this course, along with other early Christian texts and literature from the same period, commentaries by Church Fathers and writings by modern theologians.

Students will be introduced to the New Testament together with critical tools and methodological ideas which make an Orthodox exegesis possible. The course will encounter modern ‘historico-critical’ methods for New Testament study which have become dominant in western theological studies, and which have raised many issues of meaning which faithful Orthodox often find puzzling; we must ask both what Orthodox faith ought to learn from modern exegesis and also what critique or correction an Orthodox approach to the New Testament might offer in response to recent critical interpretation.

Having been equipped with and learned the proper use of our new critical tools, we return to the early church: to patristic exegesis and ultimately to the early Christian worldview and paradigm of understanding which actually gave birth to the New Testament texts themselves. We thereby attempt to approach the mystery of Christ as the first Christians did. Our primary aim, as Orthodox students of the New Testament, is to realize how absolutely Christ-centred the kerygmatic canon is, and thereby to become aware that the ultimate reference point and standard of Truth (the kanon) is not ‘Biblical’ or ‘Biblicist’, but is rather in the Person who is the Word. The question would be how to identify the circle – not the critical rivalry, as has become so common in modern Biblical criticism – between our faith in Christ our Saviour and our critical evaluation of the text.