Biblical Studies

There are two questions that we must address to the Holy Scriptures: “What do they mean now?” and “What did they mean then?” No serious study of the Bible can avoid either. Not to ask “What do they mean now?” is to refuse to deal with the fundamental intention of the texts, which were certainly written to inform, inspire, challenge, and convict. Not to ask “What did they mean then?” is to run the risk that the answer to the former question will be fantasy. The Scripture courses at the School of Theology are a serious attempt to address both  questions, in a setting where commitment to Christ and commitment to academic integrity are seen as ultimately inseparable.


BIBL 501     Old Testament: Foundations I  (3)

This course consists of an eclectic approach, introducing students both to the traditional historical-critical methods and to more recent linguistic and literary studies. Major expressions of Israel's relationship with God, including covenant, law, the prophetic office, monarchy, temple worship, and apocalyptic thought, are covered. Some attention is given to the history of interpretation. The first semester is an introduction to the Old Testament within its ancient Near Eastern setting, to the tools of critical biblical study, and to the content of the Torah/Pentateuch and prophets/historical books.

BIBL 502     Old Testament: Foundations II  (3)

This is a continuation of the first semester Foundations course. Students practice the methods of exegesis while studying the Prophets and Writings.

BIBL 511     New Testament: Foundations I  (3)

New Testament Foundations I and II offer a literary and historical introduction to the New Testament, using the tools of critical study that were introduced in study of the Old Testament. Students look at the chief witnesses to God's work in Jesus Christ, taking note of their setting in the interlocking worlds of first-century Judaism and Hellenism. Foundations I is an introduction to the Gospels and Acts.

BIBL 512     New Testament: Foundations II  (3)

New Testament Foundations II is an introduction to the Pauline literature, Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation.

BIBL 520     Bible and Sustainability  (3)

The Bible mandates care for the earth, but it has also been interpreted as offering humanity destructive mastery over the environment. Building on the work of Ellen Davis, Wendell Berry, and other agrarian readings of the Bible, this course will explore what the Old Testament says about creation, farming, food justice, climate change, and the local economy. The class will explore this idea in academic as well as practical ways.

BIBL 531     Beginning Biblical Hebrew I  (3)

An introduction to the Hebrew language of the Old Testament. Our textbook favors an inductive approach; students begin translating biblical phrases already in Lesson 1, and learn vocabulary according to their frequency.

BIBL 532     Beginning Biblical Hebrew II  (3)

A continuation of Beginning Hebrew I.

BIBL 533     Intermediate Biblical Hebrew I  (3)

In this seminar students improve their general reading knowledge of Biblical Hebrew. This entails a more detailed study of Hebrew grammar, the further development of basic Hebrew vocabulary, and the introduction to the syntax of Hebrew prose. Course also introduces students to a number of textual matters pertaining to the critical study of the Hebrew Bible.

BIBL 534     Intermediate Biblical Hebrew II  (3)

Course continues the instructional pattern of Intermediate Biblical Hebrew I, though the focus shifts from the analysis of prose to poetry. This upper-level undertaking calls attention to the "archaic features" in, for example, Jacob's blessing (Gen. 49), and the songs of Moses (Exod. 15) and Deborah (Judges 5).

BIBL 535     Advanced Biblical Hebrew I  (3)

Course critically examines an array of texts in the Hebrew Bible, placing particular emphasis on the "late features" and syntax of the books of Esther, Chronicles, and Ecclesiastes. Students combine diachronic analysis (historical linguistics) with synchronic (sociolinguistics). Predicated on student interest, we may also look briefly at Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew texts and the original Hebrew text of Sirach.

BIBL 536     Readings in Biblical Hebrew  (1 to 3)

This course will delve more deeply into matters of syntax and linguistic pragmatics with particular attention to how they affect matters of exegesis. The focus will be on prose texts.

BIBL 538     The Historical Jesus  (3)

Thoughtful Christians and intellectuals in general have long been aware that the Bible offers various theological interpretations of Jesus, which in turn raises the question of how Jesus might be viewed when interpreted through the lens of historical reasoning. This course will attempt to answer this question and through it the related question of how the earliest interpretations of Jesus themselves were constructed.

BIBL 541     Beginning New Testament Greek I  (3)

This course is designed to give students a working knowledge of New Testament Greek that will assist in studies in the New Testament, and also assist in understanding the Greek terms used throughout seminary studies. Students will begin to read New Testament passages, gaining insights into better understanding of the New Testament.

BIBL 542     Beginning New Testament Greek II  (3)

This course is a continuation of Beginning New Testament Greek I. Students continue the study of the language by translating from the New Testament in each class session. Passages chosen for each week are from pericopes for the coming weeks so that students are challenged to look more deeply into the language and meanings of the New Testament.

BIBL 543     Intermediate New Testament Greek  (3)

This third course in the Greek language sequence offers New Testament readings including Luke, Acts, and Paul's letters. Students perform text criticism and consider the role of ancient literacy genres in shaping the NT text. Overall, the course emphasizes the fundamentals of reading comprehension including vocabulary and morphology while also introducing several principles and methods of scholarship.

BIBL 545     Advanced New Testament Greek I  (3)

This course involves rapid reading of selected New Testament, Septuagint, and/or other early Christian texts with particular attention to syntax and vocabulary.

BIBL 546     Old Testament: The Book of Psalms  (3)

This course explores the Book of Psalms as a literary work and a spiritual resource. The course considers the literary shaping of the whole Psalter: its deliberate introduction (Pss 1-2), its internal divisions, the royal psalms at its seams, and its overall arc from lament to praise. The course also considers the psalms as acts of persuasion; addresses difficult psalms of imprecation (like Psalm 137); and pursues close readings of significant, individual psalms. In concert with the lectionary readings from the Psalms for Morning Prayer, it engages classic works on the use of Psalms in the Christian spiritual life (Athanasius, C.S. Lewis, Bonhoeffer). Its overall goal is to deepen students’ familiarity and facility with the Psalms: as prayers with their own theological idiom and integrity as well as scripts to be re-prayed in the practice of spiritual life.

BIBL 550     Old Testament: The Book of Genesis  (3)

Some attention will be given to historical-critical issues of scholarship, but the primary focus will be on issues of Genesis for the church. Sessions will be divided weekly into two interrelated segments: translation issues and interpretation issues. Although English is the only required language, we will use as many languages as are available among the class members. Evaluation will be based on one project/paper on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor and on weekly preparation and participation.

BIBL 551     Old Testament: The Book of Exodus  (3)

In addition to exegetical study of this foundational text, students spend some time considering ways certain of its elements have echoed through the Bible to our day. A Hebrew reading section is available for those who have had at least one year of the Hebrew language.

BIBL 553     Old Testament: The Prophets in the Lectionary  (3)

We begin with two realities: 1) most people in the pews know only what Bible they hear read and expounded on Sunday mornings; 2) most prophetic readings in the Episcopal Eucharistic Lectionary and the Revised Common Lectionary are fragmentary. Given these realities, how may competent and responsible exegetical and homiletical work be done with prophetic lections? We will focus on those passages included in the two lectionaries with the view to understanding them in as much depth as possible and then work on ways to transmit their core messages to parishioners. Formal student evaluation will be on the basis of preparation for each week's session, a short paper, and on in-class presentation. Students with previous Hebrew study may participate in a Hebrew reading session in lieu of some other work.

BIBL 559     Old Testament: The Book of Isaiah  (3)

The Book of Isaiah figures centrally in the beliefs of both Jews and Christians. Seminar explores themes such as Isaianic authorship, messianic prophecy, the relationship of the corpus propheticum to the rest of the Hebrew Bible, and the reception of Isaiah in later Jewish literature, including the New Testament. Students probe the socioeconomic and theological crises resulting from the Israelites' deportation from their promised land. Students with previous Hebrew study may participate in a Hebrew reading session in lieu of some other work.

BIBL 561     Exegesis from the Margins  (3)

The aims of this course will be twofold: 1) to understand sound exegetical methods in both theory and practice, and 2) to do so through examination of biblical hermeneutics through the eyes of various minorities and marginalized communities. We will engage in African American, Native American, Latino/a, Asian American, Feminist, Womanist, Queer, Postcolonial, and Socioeconomic criticisms of the Bible. Attention will be paid to both the key players and formative works that introduced each method into the world of biblical scholarship as well as the "doing" of each method—what it looks like and variation present within each method. A Hebrew-reading section will be offered for those students who would like to hone Hebrew skills and examine the texts in their original language. Prerequisite: BIBL 501 or BIBL 502.

BIBL 562     Food and Food Sustainability in the Bible  (3)

Food is paramount to the survival of the Israelite people as well as indicative of their relationship with Yahweh. Similarly, food is central to our identity as Christians, as the Bible invites us to "taste and see that the LORD is good" (Psalm 34:8), and we gather around the Table to keep the Feast. But how should we read the Bible in our current ecological climate, when the very food we consume is often connected to the exploitation of the earth? This course will explore the biblical understanding(s) of food as it relates to faith, covenant, purity, ritual, justice, and humans' relationship to the land itself. While particular attention will be paid to the Old Testament texts, we will also examine relevant New Testament texts, particularly notion of Holy Communion (and its Passover roots). The course will be a continuation of Bible and Sustainability, yet that course is not a prerequisite for enrollment, as there will be minimal overlap and increased depth of subject matter. A Hebrew-reading section will be offered for those students who would like to hone Hebrew skills and examine the texts in their original language. Prerequisite: BIBL 501 or BIBL 502.

BIBL 563     Human Sexuality in the Bible and Ancient Near East  (3)

Drawing from various approaches, the course will be an exploration of the representations of human sexuality found within the Bible and the cultures surrounding Israel. The course will deal with topics such as gender, marriage, sexual acts, homosexuality, ancient love poetry, sacred/divine marriage, prostitution, sexual taboo, sexual violence, incest, adultery, and variation in cultural norms surrounding each. A Hebrew-reading section will be offered for those students who would like to hone Hebrew skills and examine the texts in their original language. Prerequisite: BIBL 501 or BIBL 502.

BIBL 564     Is God (Non)Violent?  (3)

This seminar-style course will investigate several texts held to depict either violence or non-violence as a basic characteristic of God. Several secondary works will be studied, but the biblical text itself will be primary. Students will be responsible for readings each week and for robust participation in the ensuing discussions. A Hebrew-reading section will be available for those with at least one semester of Biblical Hebrew. Prerequisite: BIBL 501 and BIBL 502.

BIBL 565     Death and Resurrection: A Biblcial, Theological, and Homiletical Inquiry  (3)

The course examines classical, Old Testament, New Testament and post-biblical understandings of death and resurrection, and considers the implications of these understandings for Christian teaching, preaching and practice. Through close readings of ancient texts, and related secondary literature, students shape their own theologies of death and resurrection, and explore the implications of their theology for their practice of ministry.

BIBL 566     Poverty in the Bible  (3)

This seminar class examines biblical texts relevant to economic and social matters of poverty, hunger, and social stratification, as well as religious and political reactions. Possible relevance to contemporary pastoral settings are also discussed. Prerequisite: BIBL 501 and BIBL 502.

BIBL 567     Ideological Criticism from African, Asian, Latin American, and Anglican Perspectives  (3)

"Reading from this place" will introduce students to the ideological criticism of biblical texts, with particular emphasis on the role of social location as a key to a rich and varied approach to the critical task. Students will be introduced to post-colonial, African-American, feminist, and Hispanic/Latino/a criticism, especially as practiced in various locations in the Anglican Communion.

BIBL 568     Luke/Acts  (3)

Luke/Acts will offer a close reading of the texts of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles from a literary, historical and socio-rhetorical perspectives. The seminar will explore the narrative unity of the two works, the places of the speeches in Acts and the canticles and parables in Luke, and develop strategies for teaching and preaching.

BIBL 569     God's Dissidents: Apocalyptic Then and Now  (3)

This course explores “apocalyptic” as a literary phenomenon of Second Temple Judaism and as a constructive theological resource. The first part of the course evaluates the achievement of apocalypses like 4 Ezra: the biblical traditions they mobilize and integrate, the theological problems they address, the experiences they induce, the praxis they envision. The second part considers works of more recent Christian theology in order to assess the continuing relevance of “apocalyptic” themes, especially as they appear in entries by Black, Womanist, Feminist, and Indigenous thinkers.

BIBL 570     The Word Became Violent: Difficult OT Texts  (3)

This course considers troubling texts of the Old Testament, particularly ones in which violence jeopardizes women and “Others,” and examines how the Bible portrays human and divine responses to this violence. Critical lenses for studying scripture as well as practical theology aid participants as they reflect on the role these texts play in ministry settings. Trauma is used as a framework for understanding scripture and for shaping ministry work.

BIBL 572     Paul's Earliest Interpreters  (3)

Examines the influence of Paul and his authentic letters in the later writings of the New Testament, including but not limited to Ephesians, Colossians and the Pastoral Letters. Other New Testament writings arguably showing Paul's influence include: Mark, Luke-Acts, 1 and 2 Peter, and Hebrews. New Testament writings written in reaction to Paul include: James, Matthew, and Revelation.

BIBL 573     Paul's Letters to Macedonia: 1 Thessalonians and Philippians  (3)

A close reading of Paul's two Macedonian letters: 1 Thessalonians, Paul's earliest letter and the oldest surviving Christian document, and Philippians, written near the end of Paul's life in a Roman prison. Attention will be paid to the development of Paul's thought from 1 Thessalonians to Philippians, and to the early interpretation of these letters in Chrysostom's homilies and Theodoret of Cyrrhus's commentarii.

BIBL 574     Paul's Letters to Corinth  (3)

This course introduces students to the academic study of Paul's Corinthian correspondence. It begins with an examination of the source critical problem and what can be known of the social history of the Christian assembly at Corinth. It continues with a close reading of significant portions of Paul's letters focusing on their theological and ethical topics. Attention is paid to the place of the Corinthian letters in the larger Corpus Paulinum and in the development of Paul's thought.

BIBL 576     New Testament: Mark  (3)

The seminar will take into account the historical, social, cultural, and literary setting of Mark's gospel, but will be chiefly concerned with examining its theological claims and implications. Knowledge of Greek is not required, but in addition to the main seminar, a Greek section will be offered for those who wish to study portions of the text in the original language.

BIBL 577     New Testament: Luke  (3)

The seminar will take into account the historical, social, cultural, and literary setting of Luke's gospel, but will be chiefly concerned with examining its theological claims and implications. Members of the seminar will take it in turns to provide written handouts to their colleagues on selected portions of the text, and to make in-class presentations. Knowledge of Greek is not required, but in addition to the main seminar, a Greek section will be offered for those who wish to study portions of the text in the original language.

BIBL 578     New Testament: John  (3)

A detailed exegetical consideration of the Fourth Gospel, with the aim of strengthening our understanding of its entirety in order to expound any of its parts in either preaching or teaching. The Gospel will be studied from Kurt Aland (ed.), Synopsis of the Four Gospels; students are encouraged to make use of the Greek text, though Greek is not required in order to take the course.

BIBL 579     New Testament: Romans  (3)

A close reading of Paul's magnum opus, his letter to the several assemblies of Christ-believers in Rome. Assumes both a critical introduction to the New Testament and a willingness to engage Paul's letter critically. The letter will be read in translation, though students wishing to read the letter in Greek will also be accommodated and evaluated appropriately.

BIBL 581     The Parables of Jesus  (3)

The course will survey the parables of Jesus found in the Synoptic Gospels from socio-rhetorical, literary, and homiletical perspectives, centering on parables assigned in the Revised Common Lectionary. Second Temple Jewish, Greco-Roman, and modern examples of parable will be studied, and students will write parables of their own. The implications of parable interpretation for contemporary proclamation of the gospel will be explored, discussed, and illustrated as students learn how to exegete and preach the parables, and how their interpretation and proclamation of non-parable texts may be informed by their reading of the parables.

BIBL 582     The Old Testament in the New Testament  (3)

The Old Testament is foundational to the New Testament. This course will examine various aspects of what that previous sentence means. Our subject will be the relationship between these two segments of the Christian Bible as observable in the gospels, the epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

BIBL 584     The Letters and Legends of Apostle Paul  (3)

An introduction to the academic study of Paul, including his earliest interpreters as well as the significant shifts in Pauline studies over the past half century. Particular attention is given to the ways in which current understandings of ancient Judaism and emergent Christianity are influencing the study of Paul.

BIBL 588     Apocalyptic Literature  (3)

Apocalyptic literature centers on a thorough examination of Hebrew and Christian literatures focused on eschatological and apocalyptic themes. Beginning with significant portions of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel, the course traces the development of the literature through the Apocrypha, the Gospels, the Epistles and the Apocalypse of John. Attention is devoted to apocalyptic as a contemporary cultural phenomenon. Texts include works by Collins, Witherington, Schmidt, and Rossing.

BIBL 589     Texts of the Resurrection  (3)

Members of the seminar will study and make presentations on 1 Corinthians 15, Mark 15.37-16.8, Matthew 27.45-28.19, Luke 24.44-52 and Acts 1.1-11, and John 19.25-21.25. Knowledge of Greek is not required, but will be an advantage.

BIBL 590     Judaism in the Time of Jesus  (3)

Studies the historical development of Judaism in the Hellenistic and early Roman periods (from Alexander the Great to Hadrian), concluding with a brief discussion of the Judaism of Jesus and the Jewish character of emergent Christianity. This course also has the attribute of CHHT.

BIBL 591     Readings in Early Christian Greek  (3)

This course will consist in a close reading of some portion of the New Testament in Greek. It is not, however, simply a course in advanced Greek. Rather, the text or texts in question will be interpreted in their historical contexts, which includes among other things the rise of early Christian beliefs and practices (i.e., theology and ethics). In its current incarnation this course will focus on a close reading of Paul's letter to the Philippians.

BIBL 592     New Testament Theology: The Rise of Early Christian Beliefs and Practices  (3)

This course examines the rise of early Christian beliefs and moral practices. The time frame is the first century and early second century, when orthodoxy and orthopraxy were not only hotly debated but when a relatively wide range of viable options was still in play. The course seeks to appreciate the work of the earliest Christian communities in theological and moral problem solving. This course also has the attributes of CHHT and THEO.

BIBL 593     The Synoptic Gospels  (3)

This elective will offer a historical and literary critical examination of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, with attention to how the Synoptic Gospels may be taught and preached in the church. Students will study the "triple tradition" in parallel version (Throckmorton or Aland), with a Greek languauge optional hour. Written work will include a book review, research paper or sermon series. Texts, in addition to gospel parallel, will include Stein's Studying the Synoptic Gospels and commentaries chosen by the student with consent of the instructor. This course also has the attribute of HOML.

BIBL 594     Directed Readings  (1 to 4)

A Biblical Studies topic developed by the student and a School of Theology faculty member to meet an educational goal not met through existing courses.

BIBL 598     Preaching Paul  (3)

Preaching Paul offers advanced study of the writings of the Apostle Paul with focus on preaching from the Pauline epistles, equipping students to teach and preach his writings effectively. The historical and rhetorical backgrounds and theological emphases of the Apostle Paul will be considered in lecture and discussion, and students will offer critical and homiletical exegeses, and two sermons, on Pauline texts. Readings by Braxton, Betz, Kennedy, Mitchell, Witherington, and others. This course also has the attribute of HOML.

BIBL 635     The Old Testament Prophets  (3)

The prophets of the Old Testament spoke to Israel of justice and holiness, revealing the will of God in times of crisis and times of plenty. This course will bring students into the historical world of Israel's prophets, making their theological message come alive and inviting it to speak into our present life and the communities we serve. We will give close attention to the major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, as well as Hosea, Amos, Haggai, Zechariah, and Daniel. We will ask the question, What is a prophet?, and we will trace the shifts and transformations in biblical prophecy from its earliest beginnings to its latest manifestations.

BIBL 636     Judaism in the Time of Jesus  (3)

Nothing has redrawn the map of early Christian studies more drastically than the recovery of early Judaism, made possible by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the publication of other contemporary Jewish writings commonly called the Pseudepigrapha. In this course we will take a first hand look at these exciting materials and ask what relevance they hold for a new and more nuanced understanding of earliest Christianity, including the Judaism of Jesus and Paul.

BIBL 637     The Historical Jesus  (3)

Thoughtful Christians and intellectuals in general have long been aware that the Bible offers various theological interpretations of Jesus, which in turn raises the question of how Jesus might be viewed when interpreted through the lens of historical reasoning. This course will attempt to answer this question and through it the related question of how the earliest interpretations of Jesus themselves were constructed.

BIBL 638     Isaiah and its Empires  (3)

This course examines the book of Isaiah in its socio-political contexts, with particular attention to the Neo-Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian empires. The course evaluates "empire" as category for studying the ancient Near East, traces Israelite prophecy's responses to shifting political circumstances, and considers ways in which prophecy and empire persist in our contemporary context. The book of Isaiah will be analyzed both in its constituent parts (First, Second, and Third Isaiah) and as a canonical whole.

BIBL 639     New Testament Theology  (3)

This course will look at both the theory and the practice of "New Testament Theology." It will begin with the recent theoretical critique by Heikki Räisänen and then take a closer look at three very different authors writing on the topic: James Dunn, whose Unity and Diversity in the New Testament presses the question of whether the New Testament has a theological center; Udo Schnelle, whose Theology of the New Testament focuses on the problem of development; and Räisänen himself, whose Rise of Christian Beliefs looks at early Christian theologizing in the context of other ancient religious systems.

BIBL 640     Enough: Limits and the Old Testament  (3)

In this course we will use three biblical "lenses" to look at both other biblical passages and some contemporary issues, especially matters having to do with scarcity and the environment. Genesis 3 tells the story of humans' first disobedience, our refusal to accept a God-given limit. Genesis 4 shows one outcome when brothers are unable to get along. 2 Samuel 11 is a paradigmatic account of entitlement and some of its entailments.

BIBL 641     People of the Land: Biblical Visions for Justice and Ecology  (3)

At the root of social, political, and ecological injustices in our society is a vision of people and land fundamentally at odds with the Biblical testimony. This course explores Biblical understandings of the relation of people to land and their implications for social justice and ecological sustainability. Particular attention is given to agrarian and political ecological perspectives.