English 171A - Winter, 2017

The Bible as Literature: The Old Testament

Class Information

Instructor: Waters, Claire
CRN: 44088
Time: TR 3:10-4:30
Location: 106 Olson


    The Bible is one of the most influential literary works ever composed, and worth reading as literature in its own right; in addition, Old Testament figures and events--from Adam and Eve to the Flood, from the plagues of Egypt to the complicated life of King David--provide an essential set of touchstones and contexts for reading later literary works, secular or religious. In this course, we will read selections, in English, from the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament as centrally important cultural documents of western culture, looking particularly at the ways in which they were shaped by their authors and compilers and how this has inspired and informed later literary texts. While the Bible is of course a foundational religious document in many traditions, we will not be looking at it as theology or revelation; respect for others’ religious or non-religious orientation is important but we will be emphasizing its literary aspects—genre, character, plot, setting, theme, poetic or prose form, repetition, allegory, metaphor, symbolism—and its cultural significance for believers and non-believers alike.


    The Oxford Study Bible: Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha, ed. Suggs, Sakenfeld, and Mueller (1992)