The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South

Biblical Studies

Core Courses

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.

Electives

BIBL 531 Beginning 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. May be taken pass/fail.

BIBL 532 Beginning 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. Prerequisite: two semesters of Biblical Hebrew or permission of the instructor.

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). Prerequisite: Intermediate Biblical Hebrew I or permission of the instructor.

BIBL 535 Advanced Biblical Hebrew

Staff [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. Prerequisite: four semesters of Hebrew (including either Intermediate Biblical Hebrew I or II) or permission of the instructor.

BIBL 537 Biblical Aramaic

Staff [3]

A Semitic language related to Hebrew (and Phoenician) widely spoken in Syria during the first millennium B.C.E., Aramaic would become the lingua franca (common language) of the Persian Empire. Following a brief grammatical overview, seminar progresses directly to the translation of the Aramaic portions of Daniel and Ezra. Course also reflects on the possible impact of the Isaiah Targum on the words and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, who spoke (a later form of) Aramaic. Prerequisites: two semesters of Hebrew or permission of the instructor.

BIBL 550 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. Enrollment in this course is limited to 15.

BIBL 551 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 552 1 and 2 Samuel

[3]

The starting point for the class is the biblical text itself and its understanding of some of the significant issues for Israel, both as a nation among nations and as a community of faith. In the conviction that God may yet speak through the Bible, investigation and discussion are not limited to purely historical matters, but also take up some of the other questions raised in and by Samuel. These may include: What is the relationship between the two Testaments? How is the will of God to be discerned by an individual or by a community? A Hebrew section will be arranged for interested students who have taken elementary Hebrew.

BIBL 553 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. Prerequisite: Old Testament Foundations I and II.

BIBL 554 The Psalms

Staff [3]

This is a seminar-style study of selected psalms. The aim of this course is to work through a number of biblical psalms and a few so-called apocryphal psalms giving attention to their ancient setting and presumed place in the worship of Israel both in early and later periods. We will discuss the often-provocative theology of these poems, their poetic form, and the continuing significance of the psalms for the life and ministry of the church. A third hour may be arranged for the reading of selected psalms in Hebrew. Course presupposes introductory-level coursework in biblical studies.

BIBL 555 The Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books of the Old Testament

Staff [3]

Seminar focuses on those books of the Bible that appear in major manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint and in the Latin Vulgate, but have been excluded from the Hebrew canon of Scripture. In addition to viewing these works within the context of Second Temple Judaism and in relation to canonical Scripture, students engage the following topics: the personification “Lady Wisdom” (Gr. Sophia) in Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon; misogyny in Sirach; “praying for the dead” in 2 Maccabees 12, and the so-called “Christian additions” in Baruch and the Wisdom of Solomon. Course prioritizes texts that appear in the Episcopal lectionary. Prerequisite: introductory-level coursework in biblical studies.

BIBL 559 The Book of Isaiah

Staff [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 and destruction of their inviolable temple. Those with two semesters of previous Hebrew study may participate in a Hebrew reading session in lieu of some other work.

Core Courses

BIBL 511 New Testament Foundations I

[3]

New Testament Foundations I and II offer students an academic introduction to the New Testament and related documents. Foundations I introduces students to the Gospels, Acts and the Johannine Letters (which letters are studied in conjunction with the Gospel of John), while Foundations II introduces students to the Pauline and pseudo-Pauline writings, as well as Hebrews, 1 Peter, James, and Revelation. The emphasis in both courses is on the historical meaning of these documents as the beginning of the Christian theological tradition.

BIBL 512 New Testament Foundations II

[3]

New Testament Foundations I and II offer students an academic introduction to the New Testament and related documents. Foundations I introduces students to the Gospels, Acts and the Johannine Letters (which letters are studied in conjunction with the Gospel of John), while Foundations II introduces students to the Pauline and pseudo-Pauline writings, as well as Hebrews, 1 Peter, James, and Revelation. The emphasis in both courses is on the historical meaning of these documents as the beginning of the Christian theological tradition.

 

Electives

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 545 Advanced Greek

[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 575 Seminar on the Gospel according to St. Luke

[3]

The seminar will take into account the historical, social, cultural, and literary setting of Luke's gospel, but will be chiefly concerned to examine its theological claims and implications. Students 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, a Greek section will be offered for those who wish to study portions of the text in the original language. Pass/Fail.

BIBL 578 New Testament: John

[3]

An exegetical study of the Gospel of John in English with a view to understanding the author’s theology and interpretation of Jesus as a basis for teaching and preaching. For anyone who wishes an opportunity to translate the Greek text, there will be an additional class session at a time to be arranged.

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. Requirements include reading and preparation for each session and a project/paper/presentation to be worked out with the instructors.

BIBL 586 Jesus in Galilee

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The course will be an opportunity to examine the historical Jesus in his setting. Participants will present papers on various aspects of current historical Jesus studies, and discuss them.

BIBL 588 Apocalyptic Literature

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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

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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

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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.

BIBL 591 Readings in Early Christian Greek

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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).

BIBL 592 N. T. Theology: The Rise of Early Christian Beliefs & Practices (also THEO & CHHT)

[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. The class will be conducted as a proseminar and students will be called upon to lead class discussions on assigned readings as indicated in the course schedule. Students will write a final 15- to 20-page paper on an approved topic.

 

BIBL 593 The Synoptic Gospels

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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 language 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.

 

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. Limit 10. Prerequisites: Introduction to Homiletics and NT Foundations I & II, or permission of the instructors.