Old Testament

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University of Bristol
Department of Theology and Religious Studies

THRS11048: The Bible and Theology

20 Credit Points

*

The Bible

Dr John Lyons

Teaching Block 2 (2012–13)

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Unit Description and Rationale

This unit introduces students to the historical and literary study of the Bible as religious literature. Students will become acquainted with the various methodological tools used in the academic study of the Bible and examine a variety of texts using these approaches. Through this unit, students will receive the ground work for further study in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament at levels I and H.

The unit comprises ten one-hour sessions (1 per week). Each session will follow one of two patterns, (a) and (b), and you will not know beforehand which of these patterns will be appearing each week. At the core of the unit are set readings from a textbook which are to be undertaken after the relevant class. Pattern (a) will involve that material being taken up again at the following class in a test (10 mins), the results of which will be discussed (20mins) before moving on to introducing the material for the following week (20 mins). Pattern (b), however, will involve the replacement of test and discussion with a mini-lecture on a significant topic in the Bible (30 mins), followed by the material for the following week. Each pattern will occur four times during the unit. The examination will include questions which reflect each pattern.

In class then we shall work together, including questions and exercises, to check your understanding of the written material and to introduce significant sections of the biblical material.

Aims

• To introduce the Bible as religious literature and as a source for the study of the history of Israel, the life and death of Jesus and the development of the early church.

• To examine a number of historical and theological themes and their development within these texts.

• To provide an introduction to the methodological tools used in Biblical Studies.

• To provide training in the skills of assessing, presenting, analysing and evaluating complex ideas and arguments.

Objectives

On completion of the unit students will be expected to have acquired:

• an ability to identify the literary characteristics of the biblical texts.

• an ability to recognise and critically assess historical and theological themes in the history of Israel, the ministry of Jesus and the life of the early church.

• an ability to critically assess the historical value of the Bible for the study of Israel, Jesus, and the early church.

• an ability to employ two or more critical tools used in Biblical Studies.

• skills through assessed essays or examination in presenting, analysing and evaluating complex ideas and arguments.

Bibliography

Set text: Steve Moyise, Introduction to Biblical Studies (Second Edition; London: T & T Clark International, 2004).

You are expected to have weekly access to this book. Normally reading will be set from it for each week’s work, and this reading will also be presupposed in the marking of the exam. The book will also be useful for you if you are planning to take further units in Biblical Studies at second and third levels. The reading from week 1 will be on Google Books (chapter 1) and Blackboard (chapter 5).

Occasionally set-reading will be given from another book, the Bible itself. You should use a fairly literal translation (e.g. the RSV, NRSV, NIV, NJB) rather than a paraphrase (e.g. GNB, Living Bible, Amplified Bible). If in any doubt, ask me.

Further Reading

In the last analysis it is never good to rely for your understanding on just one source. The following books can each (in their different ways) be recommended, but there are many others in the library worth consulting.

J. Barton, Reading the Old Testament (Rev. ed.; London: SPCK, 1996). C.B....
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