Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
COURSE UNIT 123 - 8123


This unit introduces some of the key disciplines in biblical studies, and in particular explores the nature of and relationship between the Synoptic Gospels.  A range of themes central to the mission of Jesus is discussed, including the kingdom of God, parables, miracles and discipleship.  Throughout the unit students are encouraged to let their developing understanding of the story of Jesus inform their own understanding of Christian faith and life, and of the practices of the Church.


To introduce students to the study of the Synoptic Gospels and the historical Jesus and to explore some contemporary implications of the material studied.


Category of outcome

By the end of this unit students should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

·      Identify key characteristics of each of the Synoptic Gospels

·      Discuss the significance of historical and literary context for understanding passages within them

Intellectual skills

·      Demonstrate basic skills in biblical exegesis

·      Use appropriate critical skills to highlight and discuss key features of Jesus’ mission and ministry as portrayed by the Synoptic Gospels

Practical and Transferable skills; Personal qualities

·      Make appropriate connections between the story of Jesus and the life and mission of the Church today

·      (123 only) Make a clear and concise presentation to their peers about a short Bible passage

·      (123 only) Work in small groups


Assessment task


Weighting within unit



3 minute report


1500 words





·         123:


·         8123:

Group presentation on a passage

An exegesis



2000 words

2000 words





·         123:

·         8123:

An exegesis

An exegesis

and a learning journal*


* Distance learning students are required to pass this element. So long as this element has been passed, they will be eligible for compensation if the overall unit mark is within the compensation zone (30-39%), and the compensatable credit allowance as set out in the Degree Regulations has not been exceeded.



1: Four Gospels, One Jesus

2: Three Gospels, One Story: the ‘Synoptic Gospels’

3: Comparing the Gospels (Mt 9:1-8 / Mk 2:1-12 / Lk 5:17-26)

4: Jesus’ proclamation of God’s kingdom (Lk 9:23-27; Lk 17:20-25)

5: Works of power: the ‘miracles’ of Jesus (Mk 10:46-52)

6: Words of wisdom: the ‘parables’ of Jesus  (Mk 4:26-29)

7: Forming a new community: disciples and discipleship (Mt 18:15-20)

8: Shaping a new community: the ethic of Jesus (Lk 6:32-36)

9: Arousing opposition: resistance to Jesus (Mt 22:15-22)

10: Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection (Mk 14:22-25)

11: The identity and significance of Jesus (Mt 28:16-20)

Teaching method

Interactive lectures and group presentations

Additional eLearning content

Unit materials are available at Spurgeon’s Online to support student learning


Written feedback within 15 working days from submission

Date of approval (for office use)


Information updated on

December 2015

Indicative reading

Adams, Edward, Parallel Lives of Jesus: Four Gospels, One Story (London: SPCK, 2011)

Bock, Darrell L., Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels (Leicester: Apollos, 2002)

Burridge, Richard A., Four Gospels, One Jesus, 2nd edn (London: SPCK, 2005)

Dunn, James D.G., A New Perspective on Jesus: What the Quest for the Historical Jesus Missed (London: SPCK, 2005)

Seccombe, David, The King of God’s Kingdom (Carlisle: Paternoster, 2002)

Stanton, Graham, The Gospels and Jesus (Oxford: OUP, 2002)

Wenham, David, and Steve Walton, Exploring the New Testament, Vol. 1: The Gospels and Acts, 2nd edn (London: SPCK, 2011)

Wright, N.T., How God became King (London: SPCK, 2012)

Yoder Neufeld, Thomas R., Recovering Jesus: The Witness of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Brazos; London: SPCK, 2007)

Back to courses >

Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
Course Unit 123 - 8123





Hours of Learning:



Dr Stephen I. Wright

Know where you want to go? Use these quick links below to get you there.

Undergraduate Postgraduate Research Mission & Ministry Online Learning Counselling