This is my favourite course to teach (I have taught it in both churches and universities)! Taken directly from the course syllabus:
“Description and Scope – The text of the Bible is best read and understood as a complete work of ancient literature, and this course is an introductory exploration of the historical context and literary styles of the Old and New Testaments. We will explore such topics as the original languages, modern translations, narratives, poetry, wisdom, law, prophecy, gospels, parables, letters, and the apocalypse, in order to learn to thoughtfully read the Bible for ourselves.
No other book in the history of Western civilization has had a more profound affect than the Bible. Western cultures, traditions, laws and beliefs have all been influenced by the Bible and its many interpretations. Unfortunately however, this same Bible has also been intimidating and confusing for some readers, and as a result, many never pick it up and explore its riches and depth. In this course, you will develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the historical and literary value of both the Old and New Testaments. You will discover how to explore the Bible for yourself and develop your own careful and thoughtful opinions about its meaning. This course both stands by itself and serves as a reliable foundation for further study of Judaism, Christianity and the Bible.
Objectives – Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
- Interpret each of the various sections of the Bible independently, without the aid of commentaries, dictionaries, etc,
- Articulate and critique various contemporary methods of exegeting (understanding) a Biblical text,
- Describe the history and transmission of the original language manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments, and
- Evaluate and assess the numerous English translations available today.”
In addition to the Bible itself, the textbooks that we use throughout the course are:
- Duvall, J. Scott, and J. Daniel Hays. Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-on Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible. 2nd ed.
- Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas K. Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3rd ed.
- Gabel, John B. The Bible as Literature: An Introduction. 5th ed.
- Lawrence, Paul, and A. R. Millard. The IVP Atlas of Bible History.