Course Description This course is designed to give you an advanced understanding of the Bible as both a literary and philosophical text. We will examine seminal books and chapters from the Old and New Testaments, and consider a) their construction as literary texts b) their reception in diverse historical and cultural moments through the selected writings of key philosophers, literary adaptations, and critical commentaries. The aim of the course is to help you develop a critical sense of the Bible as the repository of meaning, value, allusion, language, and ideology for western literature and philosophy.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible (4th edition)
John Riches, The Bible: A Very Short Introduction
Other required texts will be handed out in class or posted online on blackboard. To access these texts as well as an online version of this syllabus go to blackboard.rider.edu
Requirements and Grading Criteria:
1- Attendance:Consistent attendance is mandatory, and promptness is expected. No unexcused absence is acceptable, and more than two absences for any reason will be considered grounds for a serious final grade penalty and possible failure. Since this is a 3 hour seminar that meets once a week, you cannot miss class without running the big risk of falling behind.
2- Preparation and Participation: Because this class is a seminar based on discussion in-class and on blackboard, your preparation and full participation is essential. You will be expected to come to each seminar meeting with a set of questions already formulated, and having completed your blackboard discussion posts. There will be occasional graded quizzes to test your recall of Biblical passages. On the first day you will be divided into small groups which will be responsible for both preparing a report and leading discussion based on that report on a topic listed on the syllabus.
Your weekly preparation is critical to your own learning and to the success of the class
3- Formal Writing: You will be asked to submit twoformal essays, one of which is a research paper. Late papers will be penalized at the discretion of the instructors. If you anticipate difficulty with handing in a paper on time, see one of the instructors before the due date to arrange for an extension. You will also be divided into groups to write up a brief paper (paper 1), present it and lead discussion on that topic in class. Finally, you will be graded on your blackboard discussion posts for each week, as well as on in-class free-writes (2).
Final grades will be computed as follows:
Research Paper (Paper 2): 25%
Group report (Paper 1): 15%
Group presentation: 15%
In-class Participation: 10%
Blackboard discussion: 15%
In-class quizzes: 10%
In-class Free-writes: 10%
From the Academic Policy Manual (06-07): Academic dishonesty includes any unauthorized collaboration or misrepresentation in the submission of academic work. In all written work, whether in class or out of class, the student’s name on the work is considered to be a statement that the work is his or hers alone, except as otherwise indicated. Students are expected to provide proper citations for the statements and ideas of others whether submitted word for word or paraphrased.
Please note that all ideas, phrases, sentences taken from the internet and other sources and incorporated into your own writing must be cited to avoid plagiarism. Disregard for this rule will result not only in failure, but also in a letter being placed in your permanent file. Please note that incorporating material from class-discussions, lectures and our suggestions for improvement does NOT constitute academic dishonesty in this class.
Schedule Week 1: Introduction: what is the Bible; multiple texts, multiple authors, multiple genres;
How do we think of God: From the Pre-Socratics, “Milesians”, “Heraclitus”;
Dostoyevsky, from The Brothers Karamazov, “The Grand Inquisitor”; Riches,
“Bible: AVSI” pp. 9-42; Plato, “Allegory of the Cave”
Week 2: Origins: Creation stories; the pre-lapsarian relationship between God and
humankind: Gen. 1-3
Milton, from Paradise Lost, Bk IX; Itzik, “Eve and the Apple Tree”; Aquinas,
“Morality and Natural Law”; Pratchett and Gaiman, from Good Omens
Week 3: Obedience or the Wrath of God: is obedience a choice: Gen. 3; Gen. 6.6-9.28; Gen. 11.1-9; Gen. 19.1-24; Matthew 10
Steinbeck, from East of Eden; Aquinas, “Morality and Natural Law”; Spinoza,
“The Foundations of the Moral Life”, pp.179-184; Plato, “Gyges’ Ring”
Week 4: Faith and fear/the divine test: Gen. 22. 1-19; Job 1-7; Job 31; Job 38; Job 40-
42; Romans 4; Hebrews 11-12
Kierkegaard, from “Fear and Trembling”; Camus, from “The Myth of