The Bible did not descend from heaven as a leather-bound book in King James English, nor did it come with a user’s guide. Rather, it is a multifaceted book with a complex history, and it can be read and received in many different ways.
In this course, we will look behind the biblical texts (at their cultural contexts and compositional history), within the biblical texts (at their literary and linguistic characteristics), and in front of the biblical texts (at their readers and their reception in church and society). In other words, we will explore where the Bible came from and how people read it.
- Know some of the archeological and socio-cultural history that is relevant to the Bible;
- Understand debates regarding historiography and the historicity of the Bible;
- Understand debates regarding the compositional history of the biblical texts (e.g. documentary hypothesis, synoptic problem, etc.);
- Be familiar with introductory matters pertaining to the individual books of the Bible (i.e. date, provenance, authorship, etc.);
- Distinguish the major genres of the Bible and appreciate their distinctive social functions and literary conventions;
- Know about the processes by which the biblical canon was formed;
- Understand the process of textual transmission and the importance of textual criticism;
- Understand the complexities involved in Bible translation and the principles that underlie different modern translations;
- Be familiar with different approaches to scripture that are characteristic of different Christian traditions;
- Understand the role of the reader(s) in the process of biblical interpretation.
- Experience how a hermeneutic of suspicion can actually lead to better listening;
- Gain greater self-awareness of yourself as readers of scripture;
- Develop an informed embrace of the Bible as both inspired and authoritative;
- Appreciate the importance of participating in critical and respectful discussions concerning biblical texts.
- Have the ability to locate useful resources and the wisdom to differentiate between reliable and unreliable resources;
- Have the ability to read and respond to scholarly discussions regarding the Bible;
- Have the ability to formulate clear (even if tentative) positions with respect to controversial issues and to articulate coherent arguments in support of those positions;
- Have the ability to articulate a theological perspective on the Bible along with a practical explanation of how it should be handled by the church.