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REL 241

Biblical Literature

An assessment of the Old and New Testament as anthologies of poetry and prose. Students will be invited to observe the varieties of literary genre, the artistic character of literary traditions and of individual books and the role of the author or editor in delivering a specific message to an audience, and the role of contemporary literary theory and interpretation.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Fall Semester information

Beth Benedix

241A: Biblical Literature

Biblical Literature

The term "Biblical literature" presents us immediately with a set of complicated issues: What assumptions do we need to make in order to read the Bible as a work that we might describe as "literary" in nature? How to approach a set of texts that do not present a unified or necessarily coherent message? In this class, we're going to be considering the phrase "Biblical literature" primarily from two vantage-points. The first is the Bible as literature. Here, we will look at Biblical texts themselves, addressing how these pieces might be read in the context of traditional interpretive approaches, but also as discrete entities that shed light on the historical, political and religious environments in which they were written. As we look at these texts, we will want to think about the question of redaction, or the process by which these pieces become part of the Biblical canon. Beginning with the first two chapters of Genesis, we as readers are presented with any number of seemingly conflicting claims. How do these conflicts work together to form the finished piece we know as the Bible? We will also be considering the Bible in literature, and this venture will occupy the majority of our discussions. Here, we'll encounter a number of Modern works that echo pieces of the Bible--some quite subtly, others more explicitly. As we confront these works, we will want to explore possible motivations on the part of the authors who wrote them. In each case, these authors are involved in a process of revision, of re-evaluation: how does the borrowed Biblical text help them in this process?