It’s been a very long day of teaching (six hours of talking!), so something substantive for the blog will need to wait for another day.   Instead, I’ll say something about what happened today.

As some of you have seen by examining my syllabus, I begin my class on Jesus by giving a pop quiz.  I did that this morning.   The class has 24 students in it, all first-year students, most of them 18 and 19.   (One swallows hard to think of it, but that means the incoming class was born in 1995.   Ai yai yai….)

I begin most of my undergraduate classes with a pop quiz, both to see how much knowledge the students already have about very basic issues related to the NT and to have an opportunity to teach them some very basic issues (such as dates of important events in antiquity, the use of the abbreviations CE and BCE, the diversity of early Christianity, some basic Gospel facts,), to stress some others (Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian), and to have a bit of fun with them.  I obviously don’t grade the quiz.  I give it, they moan, we go over correct answers, and we all have a good laugh.

Last year for my class of 300 students I told them that if any of them would get 8 of 11 questions right, I’d buy them dinner at the Armadillo Grill.  I bought maybe a couple of dinners.

I didn’t make that offer for this quiz, of                 12 questions, but it would have been in vain in any event.  Only two students got more than 6 of the 12 correct.  (!)    I don’t know … they don’t seem that hard to me, for students – most of them, I think – who have gone to church and Sunday school a good bit of their lives.   But real education in churches (Christian education!) doesn’t seem to happen much.

Anyway, here are the questions for your amusement.   There’s at least one surprise (for most people).


  1. How many books are in the NT?
  2. In what language were they written?
  3. In what century were they written?
  4. Name the Gospels of the NT
  5. Name three Gospels from outside the New Testament
  6. What does the word “Gospel” mean?
  7. According to the Gospels, who baptized Jesus?  Who carried his cross?  Who buried him?
  8. In about what year did Jesus die? What year was he born?
  9. The author of the Gospel of Luke wrote two books.  Name two of them.
  10. What is normally thought to have been the occupations of (a) Matthew and (b) Luke?
  11. Which of the following were Jews?  John the Baptist, Alexander the Great, Jesus, Pontius Pilate, Simon Peter, Tacitus, the Apostle Paul.
  12. What is the shortest verse in the New Testament?