Explore the cultural, archaeological, and geographical history of the life of Jesus in a new study led by Pastor Mark Duerr from Sierra Lutheran High School. Our journey will begin Tuesday, January 19 at 6 pm in classroom N-1 and also on Zoom. It's recommended that participants bring their own journaling Bible (like this one or this one) so you can take personal notes. Should you decide to join us on a future trip to Isreal, this will come in handy as we travel to the locations referenced.

To register to receive the Zoom code and any supplimental materials, please email megan@stlukesreno.org.

Pastor Mark has organized this study into seven sessions:


JANUARY 19 | The Birth of Christ  

Historical nativity scene and connected theology
John 1, Luke 1-2, Matthew 1-2
Bibliography: Josephus: The Essential Writings Translated by Paul L. Maier (Chapters 16-18)

Key discussion points | Herod the Great, The Persian Magi, Housing arrangements in Bethlehem


JANUARY 26 | Baptism of Christ

Theological understanding of the baptism as it pertains to the historical context.
Luke 3-4

Key discussion points | The geography of the Jordan River, the geographical outline of Luke, the theology of Jesus’ baptism, the Messianic Expectations, the temptation of Jesus


FEBRUARY 2 | Daily Jewish Life

Why the pharisees and Jesus disagreed
Luke 5-6, John 2, Amos 9
Bibliography: Stone and Dung Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus by Jodi Magness. Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery, Community by Craig Koester.

Key Discussion points | Ritual purity: Miqvot, Pharisees: Who they were and what they believed, Messianic expectations


FEBRUARY 9 | Miracles - Why They Are Real, and How They Are Important

Luke 7
Bibliography: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: Of Miracles by David Hume.
Miracles by C.S. Lewis. 

Key discussion points | The identity of Jesus, why Jesus does miracles, modern criticism of miracles. 


FEBRUARY 16 | Parables - How to Read and Interpret Parables in Light of Cultural and Literary Considerations

Luke 10 and 15

Key discussion points | Hermeneutical principles for parables, Parable of the Lost Son


FEBRUARY 23 | Death of Christ - The Historical and Cultural Context of Holy Week

Luke 22-23, Matthew 26-27, Mark 13-14, John 18-20
Bibliography: Article on the Crucifixion of Christ.
Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson.

Key discussion points | Map of Jerusalem, Triumphal entry and clandestine arrest, Medical understanding of the crucifixion, Theological implications of the crucifixion


MARCH 2 | Resurrection of Christ - How Christ was Buried, and Why His Resurrection Was So Important

Luke 24, Matthew 28, John 20, 1 Corinthians 15
Bibliography: More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.
The Great Courses: The pagan World by Hans-Friedrich Mueller.
The Great Courses: The History of Ancient Egypt by Bob Brier.
Stone and Dung Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus by Jodi Magness.

Key discussion points | 1st Century Jewish burial practices (as compared with Greek, Roman and Egyptian burial practices), the theological significance of the resurrection. 

Pastor Mark Duerr
School Chaplain, Theology Coordinator, and Teacher at Sierra Lutheran High School

(B.A. Theology, Minors in History and Biblical Languages, M.Div.)

Pastor Duerr grew up in Bakersfield California and graduated from Concordia University Irvine with a major in Theology. Upon completing his BA in 2013, he moved across the country to St. Louis, Missouri to continue his theological education. Pastor Duerr moved to Macomb, Michigan, for his Vicarage (one year internship for pastors). While serving at Immanuel Lutheran Church and school, he discovered his love for teaching. (What could be more fun or more rewarding than preparing the next generation of Christians for this world we live in?) He graduated from Concordia Seminary St. Louis in 2017. Pastor Duerr loves to learn new things, especially when it comes to the field of Theology and its application in our world today. Nothing could be more important than our faith in Jesus, the Christ. Pastor Duerr teaches most of the theology classes and is in charge of the Theology department at Sierra Lutheran High School.