Backstories: A Thematic and Theological Overview of the Hebrew Bible

REL913
Spring 2017
M 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Area: 
Area V
Professor: 
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 

This course employs the concept of “backstories,” the way that curiosity and anxiety inevitably impel humans to engage ultimacy and origins through the composition of narratives, as a key to unlocking meaning from the Hebrew Bible. The entire Hebrew Bible is surveyed with a focus on how each genre—primeval and patriarchal narratives, liturgies, prophetic poetry, and more—have their own style of meaning making. Topics explored include the Near Eastern mythological background of the Bible, the structure and functions of stories, the role of narrative in establishing social identity and boundaries, the oral roots of literature, and adult recollection of and reflection upon common and personal childhood narratives from an existential and expressive (rather than analytic) perspective. 

Background Expected: 

None.

Course Requirements: 

Attendance, weekly readings of primary and secondary sources (50 pages or so weekly), three papers (6-8 double-spaced pages). 

Basis of Evaluation: 

Grade based on quality of classroom engagement and written work.