Background Readings for Biblical Studies:
Jewish Emphasis

AP 404 & AP 405, Spring 2009
Mark Moore
Office: 624-2518 x2711
Home: 782-8379

Non-Canonical Commentary on Mark


Objectives | Projects | Schedule | Grades | Class Policies | Essential Reading

Course Description: Backgrounds for Biblical Studies is a course on primary readings which sheds light on the culture, history, and theology of the Biblical text. Those enrolled in AP 404 will be expected to read 2,000 pages of primary material and produce a commentary on one chapter of the book of Matthew using these sources. As a class, we will cover every chapter of Matthew. Those enrolled in AP 405 will add an additional 2,000 pages of readings and can uses this course as an Apologetics elective. (The class is scheduled for Thursdays 1:30-3:30 p.m.).

  1. To become familiar with the primary documents pertaining to Biblical studies and become proficient in using them to augment one's understanding of canonical texts.

  2. To develop reading strategies for ancient literature particularly by locating texts in their geographic, literary, and ideological contexts.

  3. To produce a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew using nothing but primary texts.

  4. To identify and trace at least one theological/philosophical concept through the primary texts to see how and why it is dealt with in various ways by various communities/authors.


  1. Readings: Each student will read the assigned material as outlined on the calendar below. S/he will add marginal comments which explain how the passage augments our understanding of a specific phrase or text out of the Gospel of Matthew. In addition, S/he will highlight any passages which address his/her theological topic.

  2. Presentation: Each week each student will have five minutes to report on their highlighted items and marginal comments. The class will then arbitrate which highlights should be added to the final commentary.

  3. Paper: Each student will be responsible for his/her own chapter of Mark (or other passage as assigned by the moderator). In addition, each student will be responsible for combining all the student comments into a single document (as divided up by the moderator). Thus, each student will be responsible for producing and edited copy of some of the original sources and each student will be responsible for the final commentary on Mark for his/her chapter.


08/25 Class introduction

09/01    Apocrypha: AP404 reads the Apocryphal books of: 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Additions to Esther, Baruch, Bel and the Dragon, Judith, Letter to Jeremiah, Prayer of Azariah, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, Susanna, Tobit, and Wisdom of Solomon. Ap405 will also read Sirach, 1 Esdras, and 2 Esdras.      

09/08 Reading Break

09/15    Pseudepigrapha: AP404 reads Ahikar, Psalms of SolomonShemoneh Esreh, Asenath, Treatise of Shem, Testament of the Patriarchs, Testament of JobPseudo Philo, and Ascension of Isaiah. AP405 will add Jubilees, Odes of Solomon, Testament of Solomon, and Testament of Abraham.

09/22    Pseudepigrapha: AP404 reads Letter of Aristeas, Enoch, the Apocalypses (Abraham, Elijah, Zephaniah, Sedrach, Mosis, Adam), Apocryphon of Ezekiel, Assumption of Moses, Sibylline Oracles (chapters 3-5).  AP405 reads the entire Sibylline Oracles, 2 Baruch, 3 Baruch, and 4 Baruch

09/29    Mishnah, by Neusner AP404 reads two of the following divisions: Agriculture (Zeraim), Appointed Times (Moed), Women (Nashim), Order of Damages (Nizikim), Holy Things (Kodashim) OR the sixth division Purities (Tohoroth) for a total of 200 pages; AP 405 reads four full divisions or Purities (Tohoroth) and two others for a total of 400 pages. 

10/06    Tosephta & Talmud: AP 404 needs to sign up for 200 pages in matching Tosephta and Talmud tractates from the division you read from the Mishnah [see the online sign-up sheet "Mishnah Readings"]. Note, you can subtract the number of pages you read in the Mishnah beyond the 200 required so that both weeks (2/19 and 2/26) add up to four hundred. AP 405 does the same only they must have 400 additional pages. 

10/13    DSS: AP 404 will read the scrolls listed in Vermes, The Complete DSS in English pp 97-219 & 243-318. AP 405 will add 200 pages of your choosing but I would commend to you those scrolls that deal with Biblical passages on pp 429-504. 

10/20    Reading Break I

10/27   Josephus: AP404 will read Wars of the Jews book 1, chapter 14 through book 2, chapter 9 and books 4-6. AP405 will also read the parallel sections in Antiquities of the Jews using the parallel tool at:

11/3   Philo, Tacitus, Suetonius: AP404 Philo--"On the Confusion of Tongues," "On the Migration of Abraham," "On Flight and Finding." Tacitus, Annals V, VI, XVI; Suetonius,  "Augustus" 25-52; "Tiberias" 59-76; "Nero". AP 405 adds Philo "On the Creation" and "Allegorical Interpretation I". Tacitus, Histories I & V. Suetonius, "Augustus" 76-89; "Tiberias" 31-60; "Caligula" 13-37.

11/10   NT Pseudepigrapha : AP404 reads Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, Apocalypse of Peter, Apocryphon of James, Barnabas, Basilides, Book of John the Evangelist, Dialogue of the Savior, Didache, Ergeton Papyrus, Letter of Peter to Philip, Mara bar-Serapian, The Acts of Pilate, History of Joseph the Carpenter, The Acts of Paul. AP405 will also read the Constitutions of the Apostles.

11/17    Non-Canonical Gospels & Inscriptions: AP404 will read all the non-canonical gospels: Gospel of James, Gospel of the Egyptians, Gospel of the Hebrews, Infancy Gospel (Arabic), Marcion, Nazoreans, Gospel of Bartholomew, Gospel of Judas, Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Philip, Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, Gospel of the Nativity fo Mary, Gospel of Truth, The Secret Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Thomas. AP405 will also read one of the nine volumes of New Documents Illustrating Christianity [R 487.4 H818n].




Theological Topic



Cody Graves  






Aimee Mayer  


Tiffany Green  


Molly French  


Dan Mueller  


Ryan Beerwinkle  




    ADA Accommodation: If you have a disability and are requesting an accommodation, please contact the Executive Director of Admissions at 417-624-2518 Extension 2006 as soon as possible.

    Attendance: Absences over 6 will result in the failure of this course as outlined in the college catalogue (page 53-4). Four tardies will be counted as one absence. If a student arrives fifteen minutes after class or leaves fifteen minutes before class is over it will be counted as an absence. 

    Homework: Late work is unacceptable. Assignments and projects are due at the beginning of the class period on which they are assigned.  If you are absent, you are still responsible for having your work brought to class and turned in for you. All work is to be typed unless otherwise noted.

    Tests: Should you miss an exam you will take a different exam and you will have exactly one week to make it up from the class period on which it was given. You may take it at the testing center (L12) after paying a $5 late fee in the business office.

    Cheating/Plagiarism: Cheating will result in a zero on the assignment in question and a mandatory meeting with the dean of students to determine further discipline which may include failure in the class or dismissal from the college. Cheating  includes but is not limited to (1) using material from another student for tests, memory, or term papers, (2) not properly citing sources in papers and assignments so as to make it look original, (3) using cheat sheets – written or electronic – for tests or quizzes.

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