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Semester 1

The Hebrew Bible and Contemporary Issues (DIVI10057)







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Although this course does not have any pre-requisites, it is designed for students who have studied two full years of Divinity/Religious Studies beforehand. If you have not studied this subject area to that level, it is your responsibility to ensure the course is an appropriate level for you during the first week of teaching, and you must drop this course (before the Course Change Deadline) if you do not have the required background knowledge/skills.

Course Summary

This course explores, makes sense of, and problematises texts from the Hebrew Bible in light of contemporary issues. Each interpreter is shaped by his/her contemporary context, with its driving assumptions, concerns, and ideologies. With these in mind, students will interpret the Hebrew Bible from perspectives informed by modern views of e.g. gender, socio-economics, disability and ecology. Students will also examine the implications of these types of readings for theology, ethics and praxis.

Course Description

Academic Description: Hebrew Bible scholarship is becoming increasingly aware that every interpreter is situated in a context - social, economic, geographical - which inevitably affects their interpretation. Rather than ignoring these contexts, this course brings them to the fore. It draws on the growing literature in biblical studies of 'ideological criticism' and 'situated readings'. Students will analyse and critique hermeneutical stances informed by studies of e.g. gender, race, disability, socio-economics, ecology and animals. Students will apply these methods themselves, to a range of texts from the Hebrew Bible. These texts are first considered in their original contexts, and set against the practices, ideologies, and assumptions of the ancient world. They are then examined through these newer lenses. Students will also explore and reflect on the implications of this interpretation strategy, be they theological, ethical, or practical. Syllabus/Outline Content: The precise content and structure of the course may change in different years; what follows is an indicative breakdown. The course begins by considering how contemporary perspectives may shape our reading of biblical texts. Subsequently, several weeks each focalise a particular issue, e.g. gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, disability, species, and ecology. Students analyse relevant biblical texts and discuss how these issues are considered in the contemporary and ancient worlds, bringing these perspectives into dialogue. The final weeks of the course broaden out to the implications of this type of reading for theology, ethics, and practice, and consider how biblical texts are used and abused in debates around contemporary justice causes. Student Learning Experience Information: Students are taught in weekly 2-hour sessions. The teaching staff provide some lecture content (either pre-recorded or in class), and the bulk of the class time is devoted to interactive activities. Students may, for example, have a debate, lead a discussion, analyse a text, reflect on a piece of art, discuss with a partner. Through the course, students write a series of short blog posts and a culminating essay to explore their ideas further.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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