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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: The Hebrew Bible and Contemporary Issues (PG) (BIST11027)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis 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.
Course description Academic Description:
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.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
The precise content and structure of the course may change in different years; what follows is an indicative breakdown. The course begins by considering how contemporary perspectives may shape our reading of biblical texts. Subsequently, several weeks each focalise a particular issue, e.g. gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, disability, species, and ecology. Students analyse relevant biblical texts and discuss how these issues are considered in the contemporary and ancient worlds, bringing these perspectives into dialogue. The final weeks of the course broaden out to the implications of this type of reading for theology, ethics, and practice, and consider how biblical texts are used and abused in debates around contemporary justice causes.

Student Learning Experience Information:
Students are taught together with UG students in weekly 2-hour sessions. The teaching staff provide some lecture content (either pre-recorded or in class), and the bulk of the class time is devoted to interactive activities. Students may, for example, have a debate, lead a discussion, analyse a text, reflect on a piece of art, discuss with a partner. PG students will also receive an additional 1-hour seminar each week, where students will lead discussions of biblical texts and critical issues. Through the course, students write a series of short blog posts and a culminating essay to explore their ideas further.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically analyse scholarly understandings of how a range of issues of contemporary importance (e.g. gender, race, class) were viewed in ancient Israel / Judah.
  2. Exegete texts from the Hebrew Bible, drawing insights from the original language where relevant, and utilising the self-conscious lens of contemporary perspectives.
  3. Communicate constructively about these issues, in light of how modern and ancient perspectives intersect.
  4. Analyse, critique, and evaluate the methodology and interpretive strategies of a wide range of diverse ideological critics and situated readers.
  5. Evaluate the implications of this form of interpretation, drawing insights from wider fields of theology, ethics, and praxis.
Reading List
Indicative bibliography

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.
LeMon, Joel M. 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.
McKenzie, Steven L. and J. Kaltner, eds. New Meanings for Ancient Texts: Recent Approaches to Biblical Criticisms and Their Applications. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013.
Sæbo, Magne et al. 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.

Feminist readings
Brenner, Athalya 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.

Queer readings
Creang¿, Ovidiu ed. Men and Masculinity in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond. Vol. 33. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2010.
Goss, Robert E. and Mona West, eds. Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2000.
Guest, Deryn et al. ed. The Queer Bible Commentary. London: SCM Press, 2006.
Hornsby, Teresa J. 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.

Disability-focussed readings
Hector, Avalos Sarah J. Melcher, and Jeremy Schipper, eds. The Abled Body: Retinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies. Vol. 55. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007.
Melcher, Sarah J. Mikeal Parsons, and Amos Yong, eds. Disability and the Bible: A Commentary. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017.
Moss, Candida R. 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.

Animal-focussed readings
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.
Koosed, Jennifer L. 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.

Ecological readings
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.
Habel, Norman C. ed. Readings From the Perspective of Earth. Vol. 1. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.
Habel, Norman C. and Peter Trudiger, eds. Exploring Ecological Hermeneutics. Vol. 46. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008.
Horrell, David G., Cherryl Hunt, and Christopher Southgate, eds. Eological Hermeneutics: Biblical, Historical and Theological Perspectives. London: T&T Clark, 2010.

Post-colonial and ethnicity-focussed readings
Bailey, Randall C., 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.
Boer, Roland 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.
Keener, Craig and M. Daniel Carroll R., eds. Global Voices: Reading the Bible in the Majority World. Peabody, MA: Hendickson Publishers, 2013.
Sugirtharajah, R. S. 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.
Additional Information
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
KeywordsHebrew Bible,contemporary issues,hermeneutics,ideological criticism
Course organiserDr Suzanna Millar
Tel: (0131 6)50 8904
Course secretaryMiss Rachel Dutton
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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