Honors | The Bible and Its Intepreters
H203 | 0007 | Weitzman, S


Topics courses open to Honors Division freshmen and sophomores only. H203
topics carry COAS Arts and Humanities credit.

This section also meets with H230 which does not carry COAS topics credit.

Despite its age, the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament remains one of the most
influential texts in our culture. It is also one of the most controversial.
How did the Bible achieve this status. How has it managed to remain
meaningful for so long and for so many? Why has the search for the Bible's
meaning generated so much controversy?

"The Bible and its Interpreters" will examine these questions by exploring
how Genesis and Exodus, the first two books of the bible, have been read by
different interpreters over the centuries--ancient readers and modern
critical scholars, Jews and Christians, fundamentalists and feminists. We
will not only read Genesis and Exodus itself; we will also look at novels,
poems, songs, film and other ways in which people have interpreted the Bible
or tried to relate it to their own lives. Our goal is not only to learn
about the Bible and its role in our culture, but also to explore the act of
interpretation itself.

"The Bible and its Interpreters" will involve several short written
assignments tied to course readings or other materials examined in class
(art, film). Some of these exercises will be analytical (explicating a
biblical episode, contextualizing an act of interpretation); some creative
(adopting the persona of a famous interpreter and reading a biblical text
from his or her perspective). There will also be a fieldwork project in
which students observe and analyze a living religious community as its
interprets the Bible.

Required Texts:

1) The Harper-Collins Study Bible
2) James Kugel, The Bible As It Was (Cambridge, 1997)
3) Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
4) John Steinbeck, East of Eden
5) Nora Neal Hurston, Moses, Man of the Mountain
6) Julian Barnes, A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters

Please note that this is an honors version of a TOPICS course which I have
taught before as a regular course. For the honors version of this course, I
have reinstated the fieldwork project which did not work so well in the
regular course because it was too large for this kind of exercise. I have
also eliminated exams in favor of additional writing assignments, and have
increased the complexity of the reading assignments slightly.