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Course Description

Biblical Studies Elective Courses

B200 - First Corinthians
This is a course that combines a general introduction to Paul with a more detailed exegetical/historical treatment of First Corinthians. We will spend the first few weeks dealing with Paul generally, then focus in on First Corinthians for the last half of the course.

B201 - Greek Grammar
This is a basic course in the grammar of koine Greek, the common Greek used in the New Testament. Naturally, one’s expectations must be limited in a one-month course, but with diligence the student should by the end of the course be able to read less difficult New Testament texts, use a lexicon to decipher more difficult texts, and follow most discussions of grammar and vocabulary in technical New Testament scholarship. (January 5-27)

B203 - Hebrew Grammar
Hebrew grammar is an introduction to the basic features of biblical Hebrew. It assumes that students begin with little or no knowledge of biblical Hebrew. By the conclusion of the course, students will be ready to begin reading the Hebrew Bible. It is strongly recommended that students take Hebrew Exegesis after completing Hebrew Grammar.

B204 - Reading Mark
Reading Mark explores the gospel story, and examines various methods of interpretation that have been used to read it. The course is grounded in the principle that Mark (though it has been viewed as many things, e.g., a biography, a collection of disparate traditions, a polemic) is first a story about the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus written for the church in its mission of proclaiming the good news. A critical appreciation of this story and the community that wrote it can offer a resource for guiding and grounding our own understandings of the church in its mission today. In the course we will focus on various parts of Mark (individual traditions in light of their sources, form, redaction, etc.), but we will endeavor to maintain a sense of the larger story and understand the parts in the context of the whole.

B205 - Jeremiah and Ezekiel
This course will examine the Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Students will explore the contributions of several interpretive methods for these prophetic traditions, will become aware of the critical interpretative issues that have concerned interpreters of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, will identify how these traditions interpreted Israel’s exile. Students will also reflect upon the theological claims that are unique and in common in these literatures and the relationship of these claims to broader theological themes in scripture. Finally students will explore the ways these prophetic literatures might be a resource for the church’s life and mission in our contemporary setting.

B206 - Latin Grammar
Did you study Latin in high school? Did you wish you had paid more attention back then? Refresh your skills or learn the language for the first time with this month long intensive course. Understanding the basics of Latin grammar will enable you to read ancient texts from the Roman Empire, including the Vulgate, the Latin translation of scripture. Latin is not just for Catholics anymore.

B207 - Introduction to the Bible and Theology
Using key biblical texts from both testaments as well as readings from both biblical scholars and constructive theologians, this course will offer a model of how Scripture has been and can be interpreted theologically as a witness to the God who wills justice, righteousness, and peace for the whole creation. Students will be encouraged to begin to develop a framework for thinking biblically and theologically.

B208 - Parables of Jesus
This is a basic course on the parables of Jesus designed for students with a limited background in gospels scholarship. Attention will be given to general gospels scholarship, including basic issues in reconstructing the preaching of Jesus, form criticism and tradition history, redaction criticism and literary criticism as well as theoretical and hermeneutical issues that have arisen in the last half-century of parables scholarship. We will also consider the theological dimensions of Jesus’ parables, and of parabolic speech and forms in general.

B209 - The Book of Job
The course will begin with an exegetical study of the Book of Job, and then it will proceed with an explanation of some of the multiple directions and dimensions of the use of the Book of Job in the history of its interpretation, including the fields of art, literature, psychology and politics. Emphasis will be placed upon theological interpretation and appropriation.

B210 - Greening the Bible: An Ecological Reading of Scripture
Drawing upon the growing body of literature relating interpretation of Scripture to ecological issues (including The Green Bible), this course will explore key texts and themes from both testaments that make the case for the inseparability of theology and ecology.

B211 - Early Biblical Interpretation: Midrash, Allegory and the Creation of the Bible
This course will introduce students to the assumptions, methods and conclusions of early biblical interpretation as they were developed c. 200 BC – 100 CE in books as diverse as 1 Enoch, the Wisdom of Ben-Sira, Jubilees, Josephus’ Antiquities, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the writings of Philo, etc. Early biblical interpretation is part of a common legacy shared by Rabbinic Judaism and the Early Church and created the means by which the diverse books that comprise what we call the Bible could be considered coherent, consistent, relevant and intellectually sound.

B212 - The Book of the Twelve
After a consideration of the possibile unity, or at least literary coherence, of The Book of the Twelve, we shall explore in detail the various books, including attention to preaching from the Prophets and pursuing ethical, missional directives in which these prophetic books might suggest.

B301 - Greek Exegesis
This is the follow-up course to Greek Grammar. We will begin by finishing the basic grammar from the January course. Then we will move to readings from John, Matthew, and the Pauline epistles, each of which will illustrate particular exegetical problems accessible to you only through a knowledge of Greek. Throughout the semester we will review important grammatical paradigms.

B302 - Greek Readings
Students will meet weekly to read passages from the Greek New Testament. Some readings will be prepared ahead of time; others will be sight readings. Sessions will include discussions of grammar, exegesis, and translation/interpretation.

B303 - Hebrew Exegesis
This course is designed to enable students to consolidate their knowledge of Hebrew grammar, syntax and vocabulary, as well as to practice the reading and interpretation of a variety of Biblical passages in Hebrew.

B304 - Hebrew Readings
Building upon their knowledge of basic Hebrew grammar and syntax, this course will enable students to move toward reading knowledge of the Hebrew Bible in its original language. This course is built around key passages in Scripture across a variety of books and genres.

B305 - Jesus and the Wisdom Tradition
This is a course on how Jewish Wisdom theology in the Hellenistic era played a key role in shaping the emerging traditions of early Christianity. Wisdom traditions affected the form in which the Jesus tradition was preserved, the themes of its stories, the cosmology in which early Christians placed themselves, their descending-ascending savior, and their God, and the basic body-soul anthropology we still assume today in most of the Christian tradition. It also informed the early rituals of the Jesus tradition and its forms of social formation. These topics and others will be explored in the texts of second temple Judaism and the New Testament.

B306 - The Book of Isaiah
This course will take as its point of departure the emerging scholarly consensus that the Book of Isaiah should be read as a unified work. Along the way, the course will also attend to historical and redactional issues (for example, the reasons for traditionally referring to First, Second, and Third Isaiahs); and it will also consider the significance of the history of interpretation of the Book of Isaiah. This will include ways in which the book was cited and appropriated in the New Testament, as well as the use of Isaiah in the church’s liturgical tradition (for example, the lectionary). The ultimate goal will be to appropriate the Book of Isaiah and its theological witness for the contemporary church and world. (McCann)

B307 - Biblical Theology
This course is an attempt to discern and articulate strands of unity amidst the obvious diversity of biblical traditions. Taking as its point of departure the portrayal of God in Exodus 34:6-7, the course will explore what it means that God is essentially gracious, merciful and unfailingly loving.

B308 - The Gospel of John
This is a seminar on the Gospel of John, in which students will be familiarized with the exegetical issues, themes and theological quandaries of the Gospel of John. Significant time will be spent exegeting specific texts, drawing from a number of different perspectives. Students will be encouraged to participate fully in seminar discussions and required to share a significant piece of their own exegetical work with the seminar.

B309 - Latin Readings I
This course will continue the Latin learning begun during the January Latin Grammar course. We will finish material from the grammar book and we will read each week from the Vulgate, perhaps supplemented by readings from liturgical or historical texts.

B310 - Latin Readings II
This course will continue the Latin learning begun during the January Latin Grammar course and continued in the Spring Latin Readings course. We will continue to review grammar and read the Vulgate lectionary readings.

B316 - Book of Psalms
This course is designed to give students a general familiarity with the Book of Psalms and a more detailed knowledge of certain Psalms that have played a major part in the history of biblical interpretation. Attention will be given to genre, literary style and canonical shape. The ultimate goal is to facilitate the use of the Psalms in preaching, teaching and worship. (McCann)

B317 - Feminist Biblical Interpretation
This course introduces students to the legacy and various contemporary practices of Feminist Biblical interpretation. Generally speaking practices of Feminist Biblical interpretation seek the liberation of women an all other “non-persons” from patriarchal oppression. Beyond this general claim, however, the practices differ and address the struggles of various, and sometimes tensely related constituents who seek and understand their liberation in different ways. An important goal of this course will be to explore these tensions and the various ways in which feminists in different contexts have challenged patriarchal and colonial interpretations of their own. Finally, students will be challenged to examine their own locations (i.e., of gender, ethnicity, class, nationality) as interpreters of biblical texts, and to explore how these locations inform their readings of the Bible.

B318 - Contextual Biblical Interpretation: Reading the Bible with Local Readers
This course will introduce and explore the method of “contextual Bible study” used in many community groups around the world. Contextual Bible study proceeds as a collaboration between “trained” and “ordinary” readers of the Bible, in which textual and contextual concerns are shared and integrated. We will look at various contextual readings of biblical texts, learn about the ways contextual Bible study has been used as a tool for personal and social transformation (especially in southern Africa), and work to find ways to implement contextual Bible study in our own churches and communities.

B320 - Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence
This is a close look at Paul’s letters known as 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, which on close examination turn out to comprise more than just two letters from Paul to the contentious gatherings at Corinth. In these two letters we are able to see Paul’s evolving relationship with a community he founded, to observe Paul at his best and at his worst, to study the community life of an early Christian gathering in fascinating detail, and finally to reach insights about the nature of Christian faith that might cast a different light on Christian life and faith today.

B321 - Wisdom Literature
This course will introduce students to Israel’s Wisdom Literature such as Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, with an emphasis on interpretation for preaching and teaching in the church.

B322 - The Gospel in Context...
This course is intended to acquaint students with the multiple ways in which Christian theological thought has been developing in India. This will be presented as examples of context-related faith-articulation, emerging in the Indian context at the meeting point of the Gospel with the Indian context. An attempt will be made to see how theologizing happens when the biblical witness, significant theological formulations of the past and the insights from the contemporary ecumenical world, on the one hand, and the contextual needs, challenges and resources, on the other, are taken seriously, in order to find challengingly relevant expressions of the meaning and significance of the Gospel for the fullness of life for all.

B323 - Seminar in Old Testament Theology


B323 - Old Testament Theology Seminar
This seminar will first explore a sampling of 20th century OT Theologians to identify methods and issues prominent in this field. The second half of the seminar will challenge students to imagine ways of approaching and articulating ways to understand the theologies of the OT and their potential implications.

B324 - A Love Supreme: Toward a Genealogy of Johannine Tradition
A critical, exegetical and theological analysis of the Gospel of John in Greek, with some consideration of and I, II and III John and the relation of these Epistles to the Gospel. Argument: The Johannine Epistles of the New Testament (i.e., I, II, and III John) are the literary beginnings of a process of theological reflection that bears fruit in a narrative representation of Jesus, who placed life at the disposal of those he loved. The insistence on life over death (the freely offered life, not the martyr’s death) leads to reflection on the life of Jesus, concern for how he lived. In the Epistles of John and the Gospel of John, we learn that the greatest love is to put one’s life at the disposal of those one loves (John 15:13). This transcendent love has been compellingly described in the words of another Saint John, neither the putative author of the Gospel nor Saint John the Divine who authored the Apocalypse, but the great jazz saxophonist and popularly canonized mystic, Saint John Coltrane. Coltrane called it “A Love Supreme.”

B325 - In and Out of the Garden: The Adam and Eve Narrative in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
This course surveys a significant number of the Adam and Eve legends as they appear in the Hebrew Bible, post-biblical Judaism, early Christianity, and early Islam, paying special attention to the “problems” that arise in the Biblical narrative the two accounts of humanity’s creation, Adam and Eve’s experience in the garden prior to their sin and punishment, the identity of the serpent, and the nature of their exile after Eden. The ways in which these traditions interact with one another will be this course’s primary methodological consideration.

B400/B500 - The Book of Lamentations
This course is an exegetical analysis of Lamentations, a biblical book that has been somewhat neglected but now is receiving renewed attention in light of contemporary tragedies and questions of faith. Recent scholarship using historical, literary, comparative and oral poetic methods will plumb the depths of theological, liturgical and socio-political meanings relevant for today.

B501 - Story and the Stories
As students read recently written stories, they develop skills in discovering and understanding the theological dimensions of ordinary life and linking those to scripture. They also learn to use contemporary literature effectively in teaching and preaching.

B503 - Christian Origins and Christian Faith
The most recent generation of New Testament scholarship has produced a number of new and compelling insights about Christian origins — on the nature of early Christian community life, the relationship of the church to the Roman Empire, the role of women in leadership, the interaction between church and synagogue, etc. This course will explore some of these new proposals in connection with current conversations on-going about the nature of church in its multiple roles—as community of care, as advocate for justice and peace, as a community of worship and learning. Students will be encouraged to develop a critical ecclesiology that builds on insights from the study of ancient texts and contemporary experience in the life of churches.

B504 - Contextual Biblical Interpretation: Reading the Bible with Local Readers
This course will introduce and explore the method of "contextual Bible study" used in many community groups around the world. Coursework will begin with a cursory exploration of various hermeneutic strategies and their use in the church, and continue with work focused on a contextual biblical hermeneutic that honors and integrates texts and contexts, scripture and communities. Specific contextual concerns can include gender, race, socio-economics, and more. Contextual Bible study proceeds as a collaboration between "trained" and "ordinary" readers of the Bible, in which textual and contextual concerns are shared and integrated. We will look at various contextual readings of biblical texts, learn about the ways contextual Bible study has been and can be used as a tool for personal and social transformation in various contexts, and work to find ways to implement contextual biblical hermeneutics in our own churches and communities. DATES: June 6 - 17, 2011