College Of Arts and Sciences | Who Wrote the Bible?
E103 | 0042 | Marks, H.
More than any work of literature, sacred or profane, the Bible forces
us to confront the problem of authorship. Who wrote the Bible? Was
it Moses? Was it God? Was it a prophet or a priest in the time of
King David, or a college of scribes in exile in Babylonia? Or do
readers themselves complete the writing of the texts they read?
Traditional religious answers to the question of authorship have
attempted to defend the Bible’s unity. Modern critical answers, by
contrast, stress the composite nature of even the smallest units
(individual psalms, brief narrative episodes, and points of law).
What does it mean in the age of relativity to entertain multiple, or
even conflicting viewpoints?
The course has three principal aims: to explore the diversity of
biblical writing, to introduce students to the excitement of literary
analysis through exercises in close reading, and to test the role of
the reader in the “construction” of literary meaning. Lectures and
discussion sections will take up such topics as mythic origins, the
relation of history-likeness to history, and the role of women in
biblical narrative. Our readings will be drawn from many parts of
the Bible—particularly from the narrative sections of the Hebrew
Bible (Old Testament)—augmented by brief selections from ancient Near
Eastern and Hellenistic literature and from the history of biblical
interpretation. Theological questions will be treated from a secular
and critical perspective, but with respect for individual beliefs and
for the diverse traditions of religious instruction.
In addition to midterm and final exams, students will be required to
write short weekly response papers (1-2 pages) on set themes and to
master the basics of library research.