Church of the Brethren According to Matthew....

Online Bible Course: The Book of Matthew and the Church of the Brethren

February 13 to March 23, 2012
Sponsored by: Church of the Brethren Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center

If you have questions about the course itself, email Susan Jeffers at
For information on registration and fees, contact Amy Milligan, 717-361-1450.

This webpage was last updated 5/12/11.

This online Biblical Studies course is open to anyone who would like to enroll. By far the majority of students in SVMC courses are members of the Church of the Brethren in training for ministry (broadly construed). The instructor, Susan Jeffers, is a Quaker (member of the Religious Society of Friends) and would be particularly pleased should some interested Quakers sign up. To get a sense of the instructor's biblical interests and approach, check out her "Peace Church Bible Study Home Page" at

Course Description: In this course we will study the New Testament gospel of Matthew, and look particularly at the way the Church of the Brethren has used this book in faith and practice. We will try to read Matthew "as if for the first time," paying close attention to what the biblical text actually says and what it might mean. We will consult commentaries and other resources for information about the ancient world and what the Church, particularly the Church of the Brethren, has thought about this book of the Bible, in an effort to become better equipped for biblically grounded ministry. Students will be expected to read and think about assigned biblical and other texts, to participate in online class discussion, and to learn a bit of the biblical Greek language relevant to our study. Students will complete a group project exploring a particular application of the book of Matthew to the faith and practice of the Church of the Brethren.

Course Format: This course will be conducted online, using "Moodle" online courseware. You will need access to a high-speed Internet connection for an hour or more, at least 4-5 times per week throughout the course. You should plan on a total of 12-15 hours every week for the 6 weeks of the course for reading, online discussion and offline study. If you have questions, contact the instructor, Susan Jeffers, at

Required Books

(1) NRSV Study Bible, any edition.

(2) Believers Church Bible Commentary Matthew by Richard B. Gardner, Herald Press, 1991.

(3) Any recent (past 12 years) scholarly Bible dictionary, such as Oxford, Eerdmans or Harper-Collins. Email the instructor if you're not sure whether your Bible dictionary qualifies.

(4) Instructor's A Little Bit of Greek Using the Text of Matthew audio and pdf documents, to be supplied in the online course.

Optional Books: The instructor will occasionally refer to these and other books, which are useful supplements but not required for students:

Biblical Interpretation in the Anabaptist Tradition, by Stuart Murray. Pandora Press, 2000.

Caring Like Jesus: The Matthew 18 Project, by Daniel Ulrich and Janice Fairchild. Brethren Press, 2002.

Let Our Joys Be Known: A Brethren Heritage Curriculum for Adults, by Richard B. Gardner and Kenneth M. Shaffer. Brethren Press, 1998.

Texts in Transit II, by Graydon F. Snyder and Kenneth M. Shaffer, Jr. Brethren Press, 1991.

Course Schedule:

Week 1

February 13-19, 2012

Course and student introductions.
Read through the entire book of Matthew, commentary introductory material (including "Entering the World of Matthew"), Outline and "Glossary and Essays."
Discuss how faith communities "appropriate" sections or aspects of Scripture.
Formulate topic for individual projects.

Week 2

February 20-26, 2012

Matthew 1-10, Bible and commentary.
Begin work on individual projects engaging aspects of the Church of the Brethren's distinctive appropriation of Matthew.

Week 3

February 27 - March 4, 2012

Matthew 11-20, Bible and commentary.
Continue work on individualgroup projects.

Week 4

March 5-11, 2012

Matthew 21-28, Bible and commentary.
Continue work on individual projects.

Week 5

March 12-18, 2012

Re-read the entire book of Matthew and the commentary "Glossary and Essays"
Complete and report on individual projects.

Week 6

March 19-25, 2012

Closing discussion of Matthew, Brethren use of Matthew, and projects.

Questions about the course itself, email Susan Jeffers at For information on registration and fees, contact Amy Milligan at the SMVC office: 717-361-1450.