TM 022E ~ Engaging the Epistles: Paul and the Pastoral Letters (TEEM NT course #2)

Spring 2018

Instructor: Troy Troftgruben, 563-589-0303


Welcome to this survey course of the NT Letters! The course focuses especially on the life, ministry, and legacy of the Apostle Paul, highlighting the occasional nature of his undisputed letters and the missional character of his theological and ethical thought. The course also engages the “disputed” letters of Paul’s, as well as the “General Letters” of the New Testament (Hebrews, James, 1–2 Peter, 1–3 John, and Jude), their distinctive communities and emphases, and their contributions to the New Testament, to Christian theology, and to Christian practice.



·       To gain deeper appreciation for the cultural contexts in which Paul’s ministry took shape and the NT Letters were written (Practice of Engagement with Cross-cultural and Global Dimensions)

·       To read the NT Letters in their entirety, paying close attention to their distinctive messages, theologies, and themes. (Practice of Biblical and Theological Wisdom)

·       To interpret passages (exegesis) through close reading, translation tools, and careful reflection. (Practices of Curiosity and of Complex Analysis)

·       To teach others significant themes of these letters through class discussions, questions, and collaborative dialogue. (Practices of Evangelical Listening and Speaking the Faith to Others)[1]


PROCEDURES: The course “meets” online for 8 weeks (the Mini-Unit entails 2 more weeks) by way of online forums and activities, presentations, and synchronous web-based small group sessions. The course readings and content orient us to understand and appreciate these letters in their respective contexts, engage major issues at stake in interpreting the letters, and highlight issues relevant for ministry today.




·       Powell, Mark A. Introducing the New Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009.

·       A Good Study Bible. One of these is recommended, for this course and your ministry:

o   The HarperCollins Study Bible NRSV, including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, ed. H.W. Attridge (2006). Excellent resource for historical-critical study from the Society of Biblical Literature.

o   The New Interpreter’s Study Bible, NRSV with the Apocrypha, ed. W.J. Harrelson (2003). Notes focus more on interpretive and literary matters. Excellent contributors. Abingdon Press.

o   The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: NRSV, ed. M.D. Coogan (2010).



·       Reading of all course materials is expected. This includes not only assigned textbook readings, but primarily reading of the New Testament letters themselves.


·       Punctual and consistent participation in weekly forums and activities. Posting happens weekly, typically by the end of Friday. Students are expected to post a response to each weekly forum (600 words or less) by the end of Wednesday, and to respond to other students’ posts afterward. Late posting is the same as missing class—or at least showing up late. Online engagement is your primary way of participating in this course.

o   Forum Leadership: For many forums, a student “leader” is designated (and every student given the chance to lead). The “leader” will

§  (1) be the first to respond to the forum—preferably by midday Monday the week of; you can go a little longer if helpful (600–800 words).

§  (2) dialogue regularly that week with all other students in the group;

§  (3) take general ownership of that forum, whatever that looks like.

·       Participation in four to five “Connection Conversations”—some with the professor, and others without—using Zoom (or phone). The days & times of these are TBD.


·       Completion of two computer-generated papers that demonstrate close reading of a text (Exegesis paper) and integration of the course material (integrative essay).


For “participant credit” in the course (required for certificate programs), students must complete all the coursework assigned. For “full credit” in the course (required for TEEM candidates), students must complete all coursework and demonstrate seminary-level work, especially in the two written assignments. For questions, concerns, and feedback on these guidelines, contact the instructors.


ACCOMODATIONS POLICY: It is Seminary policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have documented disability conditions that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. Students are responsible for informing the instructor of any documented disability by the end of the first week of class or upon subsequent diagnosis.  Documentation on disability conditions is kept in a confidential file.




Participation (forum posts, conversations, etc.):                        40%

Written Assignment #1 (due Monday, March 12th at Noon)    30% - instructions on course site

Written Assignment #2 (due Friday, April 13th at 5pm):          30% - instructions on course site







Session Schedule


Part I: Intro to the NT World and Paul the Apostle


Week of February 12 ~ Intro to the NT World, the NT Writings, and Paul the Apostle

Reading: Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 215–222 (chap 10 to Pseudepigraphy) and 230–253 (chap 11).

Suggested Reading: Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 15–61 (chaps 1 & 2)[2]

Forum: Impressions of St. Paul


Part II: The Letters of the Pauline Tradition


Week of February 19 ~ 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Reading: 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 222–229 (chap 10 from Pseudepigraphy on) and pp. 370–385 (chap 19).

Suggested Reading: Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 387–395 (chap 20).

Forum: “Is that you, Paul?” Pseudonymity and the NT Letters

·       First Connection Conversation this week: 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (with Professor Troy)


Week of February 26 ~ Galatians

Reading: Galatians. Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 306–321 (chap 15). “Paul and Judaism,” from the Jewish Annotated NT (on Castle Commons)

Forum: The Nature of Christian Freedom: Galatians 5:1–26


Week of March 5 ~ The Corinthian Correspondence

Reading: 1 & 2 Corinthians. Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 272–305 (chaps 13–14).

Forum: On Discerning “the Body” (1 Cor 11:17–34)

·       Second Connection Conversation this week: Text Study of 1 Cor 1:18–31


*Written Assignment #1 (exegesis of 1 Cor 1:18–31) due Monday, March 12th at Noon*


Week of March 12 ~ Philippians & Philemon

Reading: Philippians & Philemon. Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 342–355 (ch 17) and 414–425 (ch 22)

Forum: Did Paul Fail His “Jesus History” Course?


Week of March 19 ~ Romans

Reading: Romans. Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 254–271 (chap 12).

Forum: Romans 1 and Sexuality

·       Third Connection Conversation this week: Romans 12:1–8 (with Professor Troy)


Week of March 26: Holy Week (No Class nor Assignments)



Week of April 2 ~ Colossians and Ephesians

Reading: Colossians and Ephesians. Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 356–369 (chap 18) and 322–341 (chap 16). Andrew Lincoln, “Excursus: ‘The Household Code’: Its Origin and Adaptation,” NIB (on Castle Commons).

Forum: Household Codes and Today’s World


Week of April 9 ~ The Pastoral Epistles: 1–2 Timothy and Titus

Reading: 1–2 Timothy and Titus; Powell, Introducing the NT, 396–413 (chap 21).

Forum: Civilized Christianity?

·       Fourth Connection Conversation this week: Women and Ministry and the Pastoral Epistles


*Written Assignment #2 (Integrative Essay on Paul) due by 5pm on Friday April 13th*


Part III: The General Letters of the New Testament

Additional Mini-Unit Component

(Required for TEEM candidates. You must register for this mini-unit separately from the main course above, though at no extra charge)


Week of April 16 ~ Hebrews and James

Reading: Hebrews and James. Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 426–461 (chaps 23 and 24).

Suggested Reading: Martin Luther, “Prefaces to the New Testament,” Luther’s Works vol. 35, pp. 357–362 and 394–397 (on Castle Commons).

Forum: James and Paul at Odds

Optional Forum: Luther’s Take on James


Week of April 23 ~ The Petrine (1–2 Peter) and Johannine (1–3 John) Letters

Reading: 1–2 Peter & 1–3 John. Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 462–479 (ch 25) and 493–507 (ch 27)

Suggested Reading: Jude, Powell, Introducing the NT, pp. 480–491 (ch 26) and 508–517 (ch 28)

Forum: Persecution, Schisms, & Community in the Petrine & Johannine Letters

·       TBA whether a final Connection Conversation will happen this week

[1]See Wartburg Seminary’s “Pastoral Practices” at



[2] Readings used in TM 021 Engaging the Gospels.