Introduction to the Bible (THE 110) examines the structure and content of the Bible in its historical, literary, and canonical contexts with attention to traditional and modern interpretive approaches and the Bible’s role in faith, life, and liturgy. This course fulfills a U-Mary core requirement.
Whereas many Bible courses treat the Bible as a collection of ancient documentary artifacts and seek to use its texts in service of recreating the history of ancient Israel, Jesus, and the earliest Church, this course approaches the Christian Bible as what it has been and remains: the Church’s Scriptures, which have been foundational in shaping much of human culture — the art, literature, philosophies, politics, and history of the West, and increasingly the East. Significant attention is therefore paid to the Bible’s overarching coherent story, its effects in history, and its interpretation. Whether one is a practicing Christian or not, this course will explain not only what the Christian Bible is and how it functions but how it has shaped us all as post/modern women and men.
The Holy Bible. Preferred translations are RSV and NAB. The Bible ordered for the class is The Ignatius Bible: Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition (ISBN 978-0898709360). This is an elegant, accurate translation suitable for study and for devotional and liturgical use.
Marielle Frigge, Beginning Biblical Studies. Anselm Academic 2009. ISBN 978-1599820026. Frigge’s book is brief (about 170pp., compared to other introductions at upwards of 800 pages), to the point, and does a good job of introducing basic historical and critical issues.
Students write two essays (500-1000 words each) on topics of their choosing, complete four take-home exams (open note, open book, open Bible), and memorize four short passages from the Bible. Assignments are designed to do something other than require mere regurgitation of brute facts. Rather, the assignments are designed to encourage real engagement with the material using and developing liberal arts skills — critical thinking and effective communication, reasoning and rhetoric. The exams are open note, book, and Bible for two reasons: First, to encourage reading and attention in class, and second, because effective learning concerns working effectively with material more than mere memorization of material. Indeed, working with material is the surest means to its mastery.