20 votes, average: 4.80 out of 520 votes, average: 4.80 out of 520 votes, average: 4.80 out of 520 votes, average: 4.80 out of 520 votes, average: 4.80 out of 5 (20 votes, average: 4.80 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.

Take A Final Exam on the New Testament!

The semester is over at my university, but since I’m on leave, it hasn’t affected me much.  But I was thinking about it this morning — final exams, grading, wrapping up the term — and I remembered that some years ago on the blog I posted the final exam I gave to my Introduction to the New Testament course, to see how you’d do!

I thought it would be fun and interesting to repost it.  Check it out.  Can you nail it?

So, classes are officially over here at UNC, and we are in the Final Exam period. Today I gave my final for the Introduction to the New Testament class.   As some of you may recall, back in January 2014 I posted on the blog the pop quiz I give the first day of class for this course.  It is here, in case you’re interested:  https://ehrmanblog.org/new-testament-pop-quiz/   When I give this quiz on the first day, I tell the students that even if they bomb it (which most of them do), it’s nothing compared to what they’re going to be learning in the class over the course of the semester.   Looking at the Final Exam in comparison with this introductory pop quiz pretty much shows it.   Anyway, comparisons or not, I thought you might be interested in the exam, to see how you would do.   And so I give it below in its entirety.

For the i.d.s, anything they’ve read or heard during the semester is fair game.  I don’t give them a list of terms ahead of time to study.  They have to know every term covered in the reading and that I’ve given in class.  For the essays: two weeks ahead of time I gave them fourteen possible essay questions for the exam, and told them I would choose two of the fourteen for the final.  I decided to give them some choice, as you’ll see, so they could have some leeway about which essay to write.

I won’t be able to correct your wrong answers or even to tell you the right ones, since each i.d. could take up to 50 words, and the essays took most students about an hour to write.   But I thought you might like to look it over and test your NT knowledge against… some 19 year olds.  🙂

Here’s the exam:



Reli 104 New Testament

                                                                 Bart D. Ehrman

                                                                    Spring 2015


                                                                     Final Exam



Define ten of the following terms in fifty words or less (NOT on this sheet, but state each term and define it in your bluebook).   Be concise, but provide as much information in the space allotted as possible.

  1. Alexander the Great
  1. Beatitudes
  1. Canon
  1. Criterion of Dissimilarity
  1. Docetism
  1. Extispicy
  1. Hellenization
  1. Infancy Gospel of Thomas
  1. Literary-Historical Method
  1. Markan Priority
  1. Nag Hammadi Library
  1. Theophilus


Extra Credit I.D.’s

  1. Barnasha
  1. Demiurge
  1. Homoeoteleuton



Write an essay on two of the following questions, one from Section A and one from Section B (you may not write an essay on two from the same section).  Provide as much information as you can in your answer, giving as many details as possible.  Work to make your essays well-conceived and well written.


Section A

  1. Choose one of the Gospels and discuss in detail the evidence that has led scholars to doubt the historical accuracy of some of its traditions.
  1. Resolved: The Historical Jesus was an Apocalyptic Prophet. Take either side of this resolution and argue your case, appealing to the evidence preserved among our early Gospels.


Section B

  1. Compare and contrast the views of Judaism that are presented in any two of the following early Christian writings: the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Luke, the letter to the Galatians, the book of Hebrews, the letter of Barnabas.
  1. Choose one of Paul’s undisputed letters (with the exception of Romans) and discuss the following issues: how was the church to which the letter is addressed founded, what problems have emerged since Paul left the community, and how does Paul deal with the problems? Brownie points for specific details.






A Powerful Film and Some Raw Emotions
Life after Death in the Bible and Beyond: Webinar with Oxford Press



  1. Avatar
    AstaKask  May 4, 2020

    Ok, so the definitions I think I could do all of them except Literary-Historical method. Extra-credit definitions, I could do the demiurge. I’m fairly certain homoeoteleuton used to be illegal in all fifty states until the Supreme Court judged otherwise. The essays… no, I’d need to actually take the course to do that.

  2. Avatar
    Nichrob  May 4, 2020

    I feel like I have been studying for this exam for the last 10 years. I’ve devoured the books by you, Crossan, Borg, Bishop Spong, Michael White, and even Albert Schweitzer, etc… Proud to announce I could take the exam and I believe I would have performed well… I’ve put in the hard work though…. Thanks for all your books. We appreciate you. And, I’ve never received a college credit for the effort…. With all the reading I’ve done, I’d probably have an equivalent Bachelor’s degree by now… LOL..

  3. Avatar
    fishician  May 4, 2020

    I think I would have done fairly well on this, but I had to look up “Extispicy!” How does that come up in your New Testament course? I assume the essay portion was open-Bible?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 5, 2020

      It’s an important part of Roman religion — the competition! And no, the essays are closed book!

  4. Avatar
    rivercrowman  May 4, 2020

    Love the fifty words or less on the IDs. What’s the time limit on the complete final? Can students sit there and ponder for three hours?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 5, 2020

      They have three hours. If they ponder but do not write, it does not go well for them….

  5. Avatar
    Shawnmrmsh  May 4, 2020

    Thank you, gives me something to do while I’m waiting to go back to work.

  6. Avatar
    MichaelM  May 4, 2020

    So, that textbook is covered in one 3 hour course? Sheesh, that is pretty dense. You cover a lot of ground in that text. Of course, in my case I can take my time and dwell on each section, looking up the references and really getting into it. I can’t imagine trying to do that while simultaneously taking Statistical Mechanics and Advanced Calculus.

    And for the record, I am not foolish enough to test myself against 19 year olds in pretty much any area of life…

    • Bart
      Bart  May 5, 2020

      Well, it’s three hours a *week* for hte semester! But look on the bright side: you can easily take down any 19-year old when it comes to life experience and wisdom….

      • Avatar
        MichaelM  May 5, 2020

        Yeah, that’s what I meant by a 3-hr course. Still, it’s pretty dense if you stop and really think about what is being presented. Easy if you aren’t doing anything else (like me right now). Maybe not so much if you have a full class load and if you have an evangelical religious background. That would add quite a burden of concentration, I would guess.

        • Bart
          Bart  May 6, 2020

          Yup, welcome to university! 🙂 Glorious, really. Students tend not to realize how amazing it can be, having four years of full-time study. Many long for it years later, and wish they had longed for it then!

          • Avatar
            MichaelM  May 6, 2020

            My daughter attended William & Mary, and I still remember the day I moved her in as a freshman. I was so excited for her and at the same time overwhelmed with a feeling that I would give anything to be starting that journey again! She apparently appreciated her opportunities, graduating magna cum laude and phi beta kappa. She studied History of the Book in graduate school at the University of London, and when I visited her we went to the British Museum where I saw the Codex Sinaiticus.

          • Bart
            Bart  May 8, 2020

            Wow! Thanks. Yup, great topic. Sinaiticus is now in the British Library, in the specially designed Manuscript Room, with lots of other amazing works.

  7. Avatar
    JonA  May 4, 2020

    Quite frankly, this is overwhelming. Hope your students got a good nights sleep. You must must have a lot of Magna Cum Laude caliber students in your classes.

  8. Avatar
    Maracus  May 4, 2020

    Dr Ehrman, as always, I ask you questions completely unrelated to the subject matter of your post, for which I apologize. I’m reading through the new testament with commentaries, papers, books and essays to contextualize and better understand as much as I can of everything that I encounter. I’m currently reading the Acts of the Apostles, and the matter of the “Church” has become an area of interest for me. Other than this, I feel like the only time I had encountered the word was in Matthew, when Jesus declares Peter and thereby the Apostles as the foundations of the Church.
    In his Yale series Dale Martin says that this seems like a retroprojection of the the word and the concept of the Church in Matthew, something that might not go back to Jesus himself. I understand the argument, however, I would like to read some of the literature on the matter (if there is any); alas, I’ve found nothing.
    Is there any author or book that you might suggest on this matter?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 5, 2020

      Yes, he’s completely right about that (critical scholars are virtually unanimous on it). You find the term frequently in Paul as well, in fact, all over the map and in most of the rest of the NT (Revelation). Just not in the Gospels. There is scholarship on this, and there *must* be some popular level discussions, but I can’t think of any off hand. Maybe someone else on the blog can make a suggestion?

  9. Avatar
    mannix  May 4, 2020

    Thanks…I’ll stick with Astrophysics!

  10. Avatar
    GeoffClifton  May 5, 2020

    I bet you must get a few stupid answers occasionally, such as a student saying that extispicy is a particularly hot pizza topping. I knew nearly all the terms (but not sure how well I’d define them though) but I would definitely struggle with the essays. This certainly helps to put rosy memories of undergraduate days into perspective. Very illuminating.

    • Bart
      Bart  May 8, 2020

      Yes, that’s what makes grading (only very rarely) entertaining.

  11. Avatar
    Ferrante83  May 5, 2020

    Dr. Ehrman,
    Off topic:
    A – when I click on “Differences Between Oral and Written Cultures” (4/16/2015) I am getting a “Page not found”.
    B – Moreover, I cannot get to page 2 in the month of March 2016 (from 3/7/2016 to 3/21/2016).
    Is there any way to fix it?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 6, 2020

      Don’t know! I’ll have Steven look into it. Try it again in, say, three days and see if there problem is still there.

  12. Avatar
    Osuaggiefan  May 5, 2020

    Makes me sad that I was born, raised and educated Oklahoma instead of N. Carolina. Had I been a Tar Heel fan I would have undoubtedly been in your class in the late ‘90s. I had an awesome Judaism/Christianity teacher at Okla St though. He was a critical scholar to be sure, but realized that he needed to introduce critical studies carefully and thoughtfully. After all, this ain’t war and peace, it’s the Bible for the love of Mary! Lol. I would do well on this test though. Question: do you ever get any hard core bible thumpers (even college age ones) who take your class seemingly for no other reason than to challenge everything you teach? 2nd question: Why is the apocalyptic Jesus question on the final? Might you be… on both sides of the debate internally? Just askin’ 😊

    • Bart
      Bart  May 6, 2020

      Well, I grew up in Kansas, and look what happened to me! I don’t get to many Bible-thumpers who take the class to argue with me; but I certainly have a lot of students who meet with Bible-thumpers in order to learn why I’m completely wrong about everything (and prayer meetings, and so on). And no, I’m committed to the view Jesus was an apocalypticist, but welcome students to think of alternatives.

      • Avatar
        Osuaggiefan  May 6, 2020

        The better question would have phrased this way: Do the canonical gospels, viewed together, in the form we have them, portray Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet. Of course the answer would be no. In order to make Jesus the 1st c version of david koresh, you have to take words… out… of his mouth. Do you agree?

        • Bart
          Bart  May 8, 2020

          I’d say the answer is yes indeed they portray him as an apocalypticist, absolutely. But in any event, the question was intentionally about how to get back to the historical Jesus, not about the Gospel portrayals.

          • Avatar
            Osuaggiefan  May 8, 2020

            I must be misunderstanding the term apocalypticist. I concede that Jesus is portrayed as using apocalyptic language in reference to the destruction of the temple (Matt 24, Mark 13) and in Luke he uses similar language to describe the kingdom of God, and the writer of Luke/Acts concludes this coming in Acts 2 on the lips of Peter citing the prophet Joel and claiming they were witnessing its fulfillment right in front of their eyes. In total, only a small part of what he allegedly said has apocalyptic tones. His beef was a spiritual one with the Jews of his day. Certainly not some sort of Helter skelter or coup d’eta As many of the apocalyptic riders in that era were advocating. How do you define apocalypticist?

          • Bart
            Bart  May 10, 2020

            An apocalypticist is one who subscribes to apocalyptic views, just as Marxist is one who subscribes to the views of Marx.

          • Avatar
            Osuaggiefan  May 15, 2020

            I don’t want to belabor this point too much, but the writer of Luke/Acts portrays Jesus as fully in control of his death. and further more, in Acts 2 the sun being darkened etc language is being played out right in front of their eyes. The apocalypse was the coming of the kingdom indeed to this writer, it was the church. The only way to miss that is cut and paste what we want Jesus to have actually said. Yes Jesus spoke apocalyptically, but it wasn’t a new government of any kind. You… disagree? With Luke/Acts portrayal?

          • Bart
            Bart  May 17, 2020

            I agree that Luke has de-apocalypticized the message of Jesus from what it both originally was and as it is found in Mark and Q, yes.

      • Avatar
        Drew  May 6, 2020

        Bart, my question to you is a bit off topic. But I got your book “Jesus l, Interrupted” and I would like to ask, do you know of any books or websites out there that list the big, major discrepancies (ones that cannot be reconciled) for the Old Testament much like you do in your book?

        • Bart
          Bart  May 8, 2020

          There are lots and lots of books that deal with such things, though nothing quite like mine for the NT that I know of. but you might start with Richard Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible.

          • Avatar
            Drew  May 10, 2020

            Quick question about his book “The Bible with Sources Revealed”….

            Which Bible translation does he use for this book?

          • Bart
            Bart  May 11, 2020

            No idea. He probably says, but he himself is certaily working with the Hebrew text; my guess is that he’s providing his own translations.

  13. Avatar
    jeffmd90  May 8, 2020

    Theophilus is a mysterious figure whom the author of Luke and Acts dedicates both of his writings to. Possibly he is Luke’s (or whoever actually wrote the books as they are technically anonymous) patron. He is called “most excellent” so it can be assumed he was a pretty impressive fellow. But Theophilus means “lover of God” so it could be technically addressed to the reader, who would nominally be Christian.

  14. Avatar
    vox_clamantis  May 11, 2020

    Do you ever find homoeoteleuton in someone’s answer to that one?

You must be logged in to post a comment.