course intro & overview
lecture notes
assignment calendar
test review guides
assignments by type
practice quizzes
class policies

Bible Translations
New American Bible

New Jerusalem Bible
Revised Standard Version
Latin Vulgate
Septuagint (LXX)

"...a landscape, however beautiful, presents itself as a chaotic phenomenon until one realizes that its different features are to be explained by what lies below the surface, and therefore by their previous history. Like the formation of a landscape, the formation of a text is part of its total, contemporary meaning."

-Joseph Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch: An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible


"Who Do You Say That I Am?"
Jesus' question to his disciples in the Synoptic Gospels is as relevant to His followers today as it was when He first posed it. Who do we, as Christians who profess to be the members of His body, say that He is, both through the "reasons for our faith" and the way we live in accordance with that faith? No answer to that question can even begin to be formulated without first wrestling with the meaning of the scriptures held to be sacred in the Canon of the Christian Bible.

The Bible has been translated in its entirety into over 390 languages, and portions of it have been translated into over 2000 languages and dialects. It is the best-selling, most-translated book in the history of the world, existing in dozens of versions in English alone.

How many of them have actually been read?

Today, Christians increasingly come to know Jesus not through what the scriptures say about him, but through what critics, detractors, the media, the academy, and even political pundits have to say about those scriptures. The Jesus they offer as a product of their supposedly reliable and objective methodologies is not likely to be one a reasonable person would deem worthy of worship, the incarnation of God in whom one can confidently place faith. Even when Christians or curious enquirers turn to the Bible to find out the truth, they are often ill-equipped to find the meaning contained therein, hindered both by the complex nature of the text itself and by a set of mistaken assumptions about how it is to be interpreted.

The purpose of this class is to seek to recover the meaning of the sacred scriptures that the authors intended, to establish the understanding of history, literary type, purpose, and context necessary to reconstruct the thought-world in which such meaning was constructed and communicated. It is not, therefore, a survey course on the content of the Bible, but a methodology course intended to enable the student to explore the contents of the Bible with confidence in his or her ability to understand it correctly and to apply it meaningfully to a life of faith.

Course Outline

The Old Testament

  • Jewish History Overview
  • The Origins of the Bible
    • Development of the Canon
    • The Bible in English
  • The Torah
    • The Documentary Theory
    • Genesis
      • Primeval History
        • Mythology & Comparative Literature
        • Creation & The Fall
        • The Flood
      • Patriarchal Narratives
    • The Exodus Event
      • Historicity
      • Moses as Prophetic Archetype
      • Passover
      • The Law
      • The Divine Name
  • The Deuteronomistic History
    • Joshua, Judges, & Historicity Again
    • The Deuteronomistic Cycle
    • Samuel
    • David & the Messianic Promise
    • Solomon & the First Temple
    • Elijah & Elisha
    • The Assyrian Exile & The Origins of Samaria
    • The Babylonian Exile
  • The Latter Prophets
    • Historical Context
    • The Purpose of Prophecy
    • The Prophetic Cycle
    • Messianic Oracles & the New Testament
  • Hellenism & Wisdom
    • The Platonic Worldview
    • The Ptolemies & Seleucids
    • The Maccabean Revolt
  • Apocalypticism
    • Daniel
    • Enoch

The New Testament

  • The Roman Era
    • Herod the Great & His Successors
    • 1st Century Judean life
    • Tax Farming & Social Banditry
    • The First Revolt
  • Paul & His Letters
    • Pseudepigraphy
    • 1 Thessalonians
    • 1 Corinthians
    • Galatians
    • Philippians
    • Romans
  • The Gospel of Mark
    • Authorship, Date, Location, Purpose
    • Key Themes & Issues
    • Focus: Jesus' Suffering and Humanity
    • Messiah as Apocalyptic Son of Man
  • The Synoptic Problem
  • The Gospel of Matthew
    • Authorship, Date, Location, Purpose
    • Key Themes & Issues
    • Focus: Jesus as True Israelite
    • Messiah as Lord and Authoritative Teacher
  • The Gospel of Luke
    • Authorship, Date, Location, Purpose
    • Key Themes & Issues
    • Focus: Jesus' Mission to the Poor & Oppressed
    • Messiah as True Prophet
    • Acts of the Apostles
  • The Gospel of John
    • Authorship, Date, Locatoin, Purpose
    • Key Themes & Issues
    • Focus: Jesus as God Incarnate
    • Messiah as Wisdom Personified


updated 12.02.14 home | about | sources | theo10 | foundations | interreligious