University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Biblical Studies

Undergraduate Course: Reading the Bible and Literature (BIST10038)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will explore the cross-over areas of interest in the fields of biblical and literary studies. Issues arising from a consideration of the Bible in literature and of reading the Bible as literature will be discussed. The course will begin with a brief survey of literary approaches to the Bible and of the Bible's influence in literary texts. Then, through readings of specific literary and biblical texts, the interplay between the Bible and literature will be explored. Readings from different critical perspectives will be offered, including those of intertextuality, reader-response, feminism and postmodernism.
Course description Academic Description:
This course offers a detailed exploration of the relationship between the Bible and literature. The interdisciplinary field occupied by the complementary concerns of biblical studies and literary studies is considered from a variety of perspectives, with readings of specific biblical and literary texts at the heart of each session. Questions to be asked include: what are the implications of reading the Bible as literature; what is the significance of the various levels of influence the Bible has had on literature in English; in what ways do critical perspectives such as feminist and postcolonial readings affect readings of biblical texts? A competence in approaching texts of all kinds will be assumed, but prior knowledge of either the biblical or literary texts is not necessary to take this course with confidence.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
In the first weeks of the course, the history of the reception of the Bible as literature (rather than as sacred text) will be explored. These opening seminars will include a review of the process by which the King James or Authorised Version of the Bible was produced, and its gradual acceptance in the English speaking world. The intertextual influence of key biblical texts will be considered through readings of a variety of novels, short stories and poems, from a selection which will include well-known texts such as Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, The Handmaid's Tale, "Young Goodman Brown", "The Jolly Corner", the poetry of T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats. Common critical approaches to literary texts (feminist, post-colonial, reader-response etc) will then be applied to biblical texts, and the effect will be compared. The overall aim of the course is to offer students an opportunity to consider the relationship between the Bible and literature from a variety of perspectives.

Student Learning Experience Information:
There will be a two-hour block of teaching per week for this course. This will consist of a lecture-style presentation (which may be interactive) followed by seminar discussion. There is a schedule of reading to be carried out before each block of teaching, including primary and secondary literature. Each student will be required to give a short presentation at one session during the semester on the text for the day. Through participation in seminar discussions, as well as through the written work and the examination included in the assessment schedule, students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Old Testament 2 (BIST08006) OR Reading the Old Testament (BIST08015) OR New Testament 2 (BIST08005) OR Reading the New Testament (BIST08016) OR English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Or by permission of the Course Manager.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have a background in Biblical Studies.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a knowledge of a range of literary and biblical texts and debates about the relationship between them, including an analysis of the history of reception of these texts.
  2. assess current issues in biblical studies regarding the hermeneutics of reading the Bible as literature and come to a judgement about the significance of the contrast between this and reading the Bible as history and/or a sacred text.
  3. reflect critically on the influence of the Bible in the field of English, Scottish and American Literature.
  4. demonstrate an ability to apply modern literary critical approaches to biblical texts, and to assess the significance of such readings.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Alison Jack
Tel: (0131 6)50 8944
Course secretaryMs Katrina Munro
Tel: (0131 6)50 8900
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information