Undergraduate Course: The Hebrew Bible and Contemporary Issues (BIST10054)
|School||School of Divinity
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course explores, makes sense of, and problematises texts from the Hebrew Bible in light of contemporary issues. Each interpreter is shaped by his/her contemporary context, with its driving assumptions, concerns, and ideologies. With these in mind, students will interpret the Hebrew Bible from perspectives informed by modern views of e.g. gender, socio-economics, disability and ecology. Students will also examine the implications of these types of readings for theology, ethics and praxis.
Hebrew Bible scholarship is becoming increasingly aware that every interpreter is situated in a context - social, economic, geographical - which inevitably affects their interpretation. Rather than ignoring these contexts, this course brings them to the fore. It draws on the growing literature in biblical studies of 'ideological criticism' and 'situated readings'. Students will analyse and critique hermeneutical stances informed by studies of e.g. gender, race, disability, socio-economics, ecology and animals. Students will apply these methods themselves, to a range of texts from the Hebrew Bible. These texts are first considered in their original contexts, and set against the practices, ideologies, and assumptions of the ancient world. They are then examined through these newer lenses. Students will also explore and reflect on the implications of this interpretation strategy, be they theological, ethical, or practical.
Below is a sample syllabus. The texts studied and weekly breakdown may change from year to year.
- 1. Introduction: Reading the Hebrew Bible in contemporary contexts
Part I - Harlots and gays in the stories of David
- 2. A harlot on the roof? Feminist readings of Bathsheba
- 3. A weeping lover? Queer readings of David
Part II - Cripples, creatures and creation in the poetry of Job
- 4. Job and his disabling God: Disability studies and Job
- 5. Where the wild things are: Animal studies and Job
- 6. The foundations of the earth: Ecology and Job
Part III - Dire straits and nation states in the prophecy of Amos
- 7. Indignance, indigence and indulgence: Social justice in Amos
- 8. A southerner ventures north: Nationalities in Amos
- 9. Situated readings: Case studies of praxis
- 10. Ethical and theological implications
- 11. Summaries, debates, and new directions
Student learning experience information:
Students will be taught in weekly sessions, which will incorporate some lecture-style sections and a range of interactive activities. Students will be given structured preparation to complete before these sessions, and are expected to participate fully in class, where they may be asked to e.g. have a debate; lead a discussion; analyse a text; reflect on a piece of art; discuss with a partner. Students are assessed on their coursework and a 2000 word essay in lieu of exam. Through these assessments, students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22,
Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Revision Session Hours 1,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Coursework (4 blogs of 750 words each) = 60%
2000 word essay in lieu of exam = 40%
||Students will be able to submit an outline of their essay for formative feedback before the final essay deadline.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- to demonstrate understanding of how a range of issues of contemporary importance (e.g. gender, race, class) were viewed in ancient Israel / Judah;
- to exegete texts from the Hebrew Bible through the self-conscious lens of contemporary perspectives;
- to communicate constructively about these issues, in light of how modern and ancient perspectives intersect;
- to analyse and critique the methodology and interpretive strategies of ideological critics and situated readers;
- to evaluate the implications of this form of interpretation (e.g. theological, ethical, practical).
Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 4th edn ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.
Brown, William P. A Handbook to Old Testament Exegesis. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.
Joel M. LeMon, and Kent Harold Richards, eds. Method Matters: Essays on the Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Honor of David L. Petersen. Vol. 56. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.
Steven L. McKenzie, and J. Kaltner, eds. New Meanings for Ancient Texts: Recent Approaches to Biblical Criticisms and Their Applications. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013.
Magne et al. Sæbo, ed. Hebrew Bible / Old Testament. Iii: From Modernism to Post-Modernism. Part Ii: The Twentieth Century - From Modernism to Post-Modernism. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014.
Athalya Brenner, and Carole Fontaine, eds. A Feminist Companion to Reading the Bible: Approaches, Methods, and Strategies. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.
Junior, Nyasha. An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
Newsom, Carol A., Sharon H. Ringe, and Jaqueline E. Lapsley. Women¿s Bible Commentary. 3rd ed ed., Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012.
Scholz, Susanne. Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Retrospect. Vol. 1, Biblical Books. Recent Research in Biblical Studies, Vol. 5 Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013.
Trible, Phyllis. Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Reading of Biblical Narratives. Obt, Vol. 13 Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.
Ovidiu Creang¿, ed. Men and Masculinity in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond. Vol. 33. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2010.
Robert E. Goss, and Mona West, eds. Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2000.
Deryn et al. Guest, ed. The Queer Bible Commentary. London: SCM Press, 2006.
Teresa J. Hornsby, and Ken Stone, eds. Bible Trouble: Queer Readings At the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship. Vol. 67. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011.
Hornsby, Teresa J., and Deryn Guest, eds. Transgender, Intersex, and Biblical Interpretation. Vol. 83. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2016.
Avalos Hector, Sarah J. Melcher, and Jeremy Schipper, eds. The Abled Body: Retinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies. Vol. 55. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007.
Sarah J. Melcher, Mikeal Parsons, and Amos Yong, eds. Disability and the Bible: A Commentary. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017.
Candida R. Moss, and Jeremy Schipper, eds. Disability Studies and Biblical Literature. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011.
Olyan, Saul. Disability in the Hebrew Bible: Interpreting Mental and Physical Differences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Raphael, Rebecca. Biblical Corpora: Representations of Disability in Hebrew Biblical Literature. Lhbots, Vol. 445 New York: T&T Clark, 2008.
Borowski, Oded. Every Living Thing: Daily Use of Animals in Ancient Israel. London: Altamira Press, 1998.
Collins, Bille Jean. History of the Animal World in the Ancient Near East. Leiden: Brill, 2002.
Jennifer L. Koosed, ed. The Bible and Posthumanism. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2014.
Stone, Ken. Reading the Hebrew Bible With Animal Studies. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018.
Strømmen, Hannah M. Biblical Animality After Jacques Derrida. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2018.
Baukham, Richard. The Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010.
Davis, Ellen F. Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible. Cambirdge: Cambidge University Press, 2009.
Norman C. Habel, ed. Readings From the Perspective of Earth. Vol. 1. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.
Norman C. Habel, and Peter Trudiger, eds. Exploring Ecological Hermeneutics. Vol. 46. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008.
David G. Horrell, Cherryl Hunt, and Christopher Southgate, eds. Eological Hermeneutics: Biblical, Historical and Theological Perspectives. London: T&T Clark, 2010.
Post-colonial and ethnicity-focussed readings:
Randall C. Bailey, Benny Tat-siong Liew, and Fernando F. Segovia, eds. There Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism. Vol. 57. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.
Roland Boer, ed. Postcolonialism and the Hebrew Bible: The Next Step. Vol. 70. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013.
Brett, Mark G. Decolonizing God: The Bible in the Tide of Empire. The Bible in the Modern World, Vol. 16 Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2008.
Craig Keener, and M. Daniel Carroll R., eds. Global Voices: Reading the Bible in the Majority World. Peabody, MA: Hendickson Publishers, 2013.
R. S. Sugirtharajah, ed. Voices From the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World. 3rd ed ed. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006.
Materialist and socio-economic readings:
Boer, Roland. Marxist Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. 2nd edn ed., London: Bloomsbury, 2015.
Ceresko, Anthony R. Introduction to the Old Testament: A Liberation Perspective. Revised and expanded ed., Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001.
Gottwald, Norman. Social Justice and the Hebrew Bible. Vol 1. Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice, Vol. 2 Eugene,OR: Cascade Books, 2016.
Houston, Walter J. Contending for Justice: Ideologies and Theologies of Social Justice in the Old Testament. London: T&T Clark, 2006.
Sneed, Mark R. Concepts of Class in Ancient Israel. South Florida Studies in the History of Judaism, Vol. 201 Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1999.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||- Curiosity for learning and openness to different perspectives
- Respect for and desire to engage with diverse communities, locally and globally
- Creativity in tackling new problems
- Finely-tuned skills of close reading and critical analysis
- Ability to communicate effectively with others, both orally and in writing
|Keywords||Hebrew Bible,contemporary issues,hermeneutics,ideological criticism
|Course organiser||Dr Suzanna Millar
Tel: (0131 6)50 8904
|Course secretary||Miss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227