Nick Williams

1:25p-2:15p MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

The Bible has long been recognized as the most important source of Western literary tradition, the “Great Code of Art,” as William Blake called it. But until fairly recently, little attention has been paid to the literary qualities of the Bible’s own stories, poems, proverbs, etc. This course is intended as both an introduction to the critical movement which studies “the Bible as Literature” (and thus features some critical reading drawn from that movement) and an opportunity to think and talk about the literary aspects of this important book, a book which I hope will emerge as altogether more unusual, stranger, than we might initially think. In addition, during one week we’ll consider the ways that more conventionally “literary” texts transform biblical accounts, by reading David Maine’s Fallen, a retelling of the story of the fall and of Cain and Abel. Assignments will include 2 interpretive essays, some smaller writing assignments, a mid-term and a final. Warning: The instructor of this course assumes no doctrinal perspective on the Bible or its status as the inerrant word of God. Questions of faith and religion are not part of an understanding of the Bible as a work of literature. Both believers and non-believers in the Bible’s holiness are welcome in the class, but students who cannot discuss or think about biblical texts apart from their status as sacred truth should not take a course such as this one.