Comparative Literature | Who Wrote the Bible?
E103 | 25338 | Prof. Marks
CMLT) (A & H) (3 cr.) TR Lecture 2:30-3:20
F 25339 9:05-9:55 HPER 010
F 25340 10:10-11:00 JH 440
F 25341 10:10-11:00 HPER 010
F 25342 11:15-12:05 BH 331
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.