THL208 The Synoptic Gospels (8)

This subject investigates the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke as literary expressions of the development of early Christianity from its roots in Judaism. It explores these three Gospels in their historical, literary, socio-cultural and religious contexts. It assesses these Gospels as sources for understanding Jesus and also probes the puzzle of their interrelations. On a rotating basis, one of these Gospels provides the focus for detailed study of literary, historical and theological issues germane to its interpretation.


Session 1 (30)
On Campus
Canberra Campus
Canberra Campus
Term 1 (75)
On Campus
Ming Hua Theological College

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: THL208. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Theology

Enrolment Restrictions

This subject is not available to students who have completed subject THP402 as this is a paired subject and shares similar content.

Assumed Knowledge

Students are recommended to have prior knowledge equivalent to or studied THL106.

Subject Relationships

THP402 Paired Subject

Incompatible Subjects


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to discuss in a critically informed way issues relating to the interpretation of the Synoptic Gospels;
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the historical, socio-cultural and religious contexts of the Synoptic Gospels and their relationship to contemporary writings;
  • be able to discuss critically scholarly methods of Gospel analysis such as form, source, redaction and narrative criticism;
  • be able to articulate a critical understanding of scholarly assessments of the relations between the Synoptic Gospels;
  • be able to discuss major theological and ethical themes in the Synoptic Gospels and assess their contemporary relevance;
  • be able to demonstrate developing competence in the exegesis and interpretation of biblical texts and critical engagement with primary biblical sources and secondary literature; and
  • be able to demonstrate self-guided learning, including sound research, writing and communication skills.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels
  • Gospel genre and other gospels
  • The Synoptic Gospels in their historical, socio-cultural and religious contexts
  • The relationship between the historical Jesus and Synoptic portraits of Jesus
  • The Synoptic problem: the relations between the Synoptic Gospels
  • Distinctive features of the Synoptic Gospels
  • Authorship, date, provenance and patristic traditions regarding one Synoptic Gospel
  • Literary structure, key themes and interpretive challenges of one Synoptic Gospel
  • Close reading of a key text(s) from one Synoptic Gospel
  • Jesus according to Matthew, Mark or Luke
  • Study of one Synoptic Gospel as a response to its social, cultural and religious milieu

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of THL208 in Term 3 2020. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Short essay
Research essay

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2021. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.