THE1109 - Introduction to the History and Literatures of the Bible

2022/3 Module description

StaffDr Logan Williams - Convenor
Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

This Level One core Theology and Religion module will introduce you to the Bible, in terms of both its history and its various literary genres (narrative, wisdom, apocalyptic, gospel, letter, etc.). We shall also consider the processes by which the collections of Jewish and Christian scriptures came to be made, how the canon of the Bible was fixed, and what was excluded. The first half of the module will focus on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, while the second half will be devoted to the New Testament. Designed for students who have little or no knowledge of the Bible, or of the early histories of Judaism and Christianity, the module is suitable for anyone with an interest in the topic, particularly those working from historical or literary perspectives in disciplines such as History, Classics/Ancient History, Liberal Arts, as well as in Theology and Religion. This module will also be of value to those who know the Bible in a devotional or liturgical context, but lack an understanding of its various historical and literary contexts. This module is also designed to introduce the two major types of assessments that you will encounter at university – essay writing and examinations – and the various strategies that can be adopted when facing them.

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • introduce the historical contexts in which the biblical texts were written
  • introduce the various literary types found within the Jewish scriptures and the Christian Bible
  • consider the processes by which the canon of the Bible emerged
  • develop core academic skills in essay writing and examination preparation

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate, with guidance, a basic knowledge and understanding of the socio-historical and religious settings and genres of the biblical texts in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament
  • 2. Interpret biblical texts, with guidance, in light of their literary and historical contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Begin, with guidance, to employ a variety of complementary methods of study: historical-critical; socio-religious; literary; theological etc.
  • 4. Make guided use of a diversity of primary and secondary sources;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Communicate information, including one’s own evaluative judgements, in a written form
  • 6. Demonstrate the ability to summarise information accurately and fairly
  • 7. Engage in discussion, presenting one’s own ideas clearly and showing understanding of others’.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The various historical periods that are addressed in the Bible: pre-first millennium BCE, the United and Divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Neo-Assyrian Period, the Neo-Babylonian Period, the Achaemenid Persian Period, the Hellenistic Period (including the Ptolemaic and Seleucid Empires), the Hasmoneans, and the Romans.
  • The various literary forms and genres that appear in the Bible: prose and poetry, narrative, prophecy, wisdom, epistolary, apocalyptic.
  • The history and literature of formative/early Judaism
  • The beginnings of Christianity, as evidenced in the New Testament writings.
  • The processes that led to the compilation of Jewish scriptures and the canons of both the Old and New Testaments.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11Seminars
Guided Independent Study117Private Study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Analysis1000 words1-6Written feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination551.5 hours1-6Written comments
Analysis351000 words1-6Written comments
Wikis10 5 x 100 words1-4,7Cohort feedback and marksheet

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Examination Examination (as above)1-6Referral/deferral period
AnalysisAnalysis (as above)1-6Referral/deferral period
WikisWikis (as above)1-4, 7Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • John Barton, A History of the Bible (London: Allen Lane, 2019)
  • John J. Collins, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (third edition; Fortress Press, 2018)
  • Dale B. Martin, New Testament History and Literature (Yale University Press, 2012)

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Bible; Judaism; Christianity; antiquity; religious history; ancient Near East

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