Honors | The Agnostic Bible (HON)
H303 | 10962 | Herb Marks

Herbert Marks
Wed. 4:00-6:30

Topic:  The Agnostic Bible

	There is arguably no book of world literature that has been
more embroidered, distorted, and misread than the Hebrew Bible. As
the basis of Christian theology and the ultimate source of Jewish
law, it is routinely commended even today as a moral and
metaphysical guide,or as a repository of dogmatic truth. But there
is a significant strain in the Bible--perhaps the predominant strain-
-that is impatient with piety and suspicious of dogmatic wisdom,
particularly the wisdom of those who presume on their knowledge of
the uncanny central figure it calls God or Yahweh. Indeed, if one
reads against the grain of tradition, the Bible is a book that
revels in contradiction, invites questions but frustrates answers,
views human morality, like divine “goodness,” with skepticism, and
treats its characters, legendary or historical, with irreverent
	In this course we shall be exploring this skeptical strain
in biblical literature, beginning with the books of Ecclesiastes and
Job, continuing with parts of the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomistic
History, and concluding with the Gospel of Mark. Theoretical
questions about the epistemology of reading (how we know what we
know) will be a constant focus, but we shall approach them through
specific readings and narrowly focused discussion. Secondary texts
will include essays on general and special hermeneutics as well as
selections from modern biblical scholarship. Students will be asked
to write several short exercises and a final paper.
	Prerequisite: a good background or active interest in
literature or philosophy. A prior course on the Bible would be
helpful but is not essential.