I'm excited to announce that I've been invited by University Presbyterian Church (San Antonio, TX) to teach their Living Our Faith Adult Series for four weeks: May 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th. The subject will be "John the Baptist: Then and Now". Each session is scheduled from 9:45-10:45am before their Sunday worship gathering. Here is an outline:
John the Baptist according to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew
Pre-Reading: Mark 1.1-11; 2.18-22; 6.14-29; 8.27-30; 11.27-33; Matthew 3.1-17; 4.12; 9.14-17; 11.1-19; 14.1-14; 16.14; 17.11-13; 21.25-32
Class: In this session we will discuss how the Evangelist Mark portrays John the Baptist and how this portrayal evolves in the hands of the Evangelist Matthew. It will be especially important to note how certain “troubling” aspects of Mark’s presentation, most specifically the baptism of Jesus, are explained and interpreted by Matthew.
John the Baptist according to the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles
Pre-Reading: Luke 1.5-25, 57-80; 3.1-22, 33-39; 7.18-33; 9.7-11, 19; 11.1; 16.16; 20.1-8; Acts 1.4-8; 1.22-23; 10.37; 11.16; 13.24-25; 18.23-19.7
Class: In this session we will observe how the Evangelist Luke tells his own version of John the Baptist’s story, including narratives of his early childhood. Also, we will observe how the Acts of the Apostles presents the Baptist’s relevancy for the early church, especially how his warning of a baptism of holy spirit and fire becomes the promise of Pentecost.
John the Baptist according to the Gospel of John
Pre-Reading: John 1.1-40; 3.23-36; 5.30-38; 10.40-41
Class: The Gospel of John is the last of the canonized gospels to be written, yet the stakes seem the highest as concerns proving Jesus’ superiority to the Baptist. Why is this? We will focus upon the Gospel of John, then toward the end of class we will take a quick peak at how other early gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Infancy Gospel of James, present and interpret the Baptist.
John the Baptist according to Josephus
Pre-Reading: Josephus’ Antiquities 18.109-119 (document to be provided with text plus reading guide)
Class: In this final session we will examine the one description of the Baptist that is contemporary with the canonized gospels, that being Josephus’ brief mention of the man. His description differs from the Evangelists, but this offers us with another angle to understand how the Baptist was understood, and the socio-political implications of his preaching and baptizing activity. Finally, Josephus’ presentation of the Baptist allows us to imagine what value the Baptist may have for contemporary interfaith dialogue. Can John the Baptist as a symbol of ecumenism as much as he does Christianity?