English 189-2 - Fall, 2014

Seminar in Literary Studies

    Topic: The Bible in Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Waters, Claire
CRN: 42532
Time: TR 12:10-1:30
Location: 156 Voorhies


    This course will explore the literary aspects and receptions of the most influential text in Western culture. No previous acquaintance with the Bible is presupposed. We will consider such questions as the variety of literary genres and strategies in the Bible; the historical situation of its writers; the representation of God as a literary character; recurrent images and themes; the Bible as a Hebrew national epic; and the New Testament as a radical reinterpretation of the “Old Testament” (or Hebrew Bible). We will concentrate on those books that display the greatest literary interest or influence, and read later works that retell or in other ways revisit biblical narratives and motifs. Biblical readings will include all or parts of Genesis, Exodus, Second Isaiah, Daniel, Ruth, Psalms, and the Song of Songs, along with the saga of King David, from the Hebrew Bible, and from the New Testament, the Gospels according to Matthew, Luke, and John. We’ll look more briefly at issues of translation; traditional strategies of interpretation, such as midrash and allegory; and the historical processes involved in constructing the Biblical canon.


    Two short papers, 15% each
    Discussion questions for class, 10%
    Attendance and participation, 20%
    In-class presentation, 10%
    Final paper, 30%