Biblical Studies: Elective Courses

Biblical Studies - Electives

This is a representative list of electives in this area of study. Exact course offerings for each semester will vary. Please see class schedules for specific semester offerings.

B200 First Corinthians
An exegetical course focusing on1 Corinthians. Attention will be given to social-historical, rhetorical, and cultural issues that present themselves in the letter, and the practical theology that emerges from Paul's pastoral praxis.

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.

B203 Hebrew Grammar
Hebrew grammar is an introduction to the grammatical features of biblical Hebrew from the alphabet to basic reading. 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
This course engages the Gospel of Mark as a text to be read from many different perspectives. We will examine the gospel from socio-historical, narrative-literary, and contemporary political methods of interpretation.

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

B213 The Book of the Twelve

B215 Early Judaism in the Time of Jesus and Nascent Christianity
This course surveys selected issues in the history and literature of early Judaism, from the end of the period of the Hebrew Bible, to the advent of Jesus, nascent Christianity, and early rabbinic Judaism. Topics include: the rise of Hellenism and its impact on Jewish culture and thought, the changing nature of Jewish identity in both ancient Judaea and the diaspora, the emergence of Scripture, apocalypticism, Jewish sectarianism, messianism, ritual space and worship, law, and wisdom. This course will provide opportunities to engage deeply in the cultural context of the Judaism(s) out of which Christianity and rabbinic Judaism emanated.

B216 Theological Interpretation of Scripture: A Preface to Hermeneutics
This course is a sustained, critical exploration of theological method in contemporary biblical interpretation.

B217 Teaching Bible and Sexuality in the Church
This course will look inter-contextually at issues of sexuality and biblical interpretation, including many texts that have been especially challenging for rich community life and a holistic understanding of human sexuality.  We will examine texts and traditions, the history of interpretation, and the effects of these texts and their interpretations on the life of the church today.  Students will be encouraged to work to develop a sense of the meaning and import of various biblical ideas relating to human to sexuality and to design strategies and encounter resources to help facilitate faithful inquiry, open discourse, and safe conversations with other people in the life of the church.

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
This course is designed to enable students to develop their knowledge of the basic grammar and syntax of Hebrew and move from basic to more advanced understandings of Hebrew grammar and syntax.

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.

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.

B317 Feminist Biblical Interpretation
This course explores the historical legacies and contemporary practices of feminist biblical interpretation. The course offers students the opportunity to understand feminism in various definitions as social critique and political struggle.

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.

B319 Romans

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

B322 The Gospel in Context

B323 Seminar in Old Testament Theology

B324 Love Supreme: Toward a Genealogy of Johannine Tradition

B325 Adam and Even Narrative in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

B326 Genders in the World of the Bible
Science, theory and experience tell us that gender is complicated in our lives today, but what about the Bible?  This course explores the complexities of gender in the Bible and the ancient world that is its context.  This semester, we will question modern and ancient gender norms by noting the ways biblical texts challenge our assumptions about what it means to be a gendered person.

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.

B401/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.

B403/B502 Theology in the Old Testament
This class will challenge students to grapple with the diversity of theological perspectives in the Old Testament. The class will meet on four weekends. The first two sessions will examine critically some of the approaches to the discipline  of "Old Testament"

B503 Christian Origins and Christian Faith

B504 Contextual Biblical Interpretations: Local Readers

B505 The Book of Psalms
This course is intended to provide participants with an overview of the Psalms, drawing upon traditional scholarly approaches (such as form-criticism and rhetorical criticism) as well as upon the more recent scholarly emphasis on the importance of the shape and shaping of the Book of Psalms.  The intent is to begin to appreciate why the Psalms have historically been the locus of spirituality for the Church, and to assess why this is no longer the case.  Given this reality, the course will also explore how the Psalms might be “recovered” for the contemporary church, including their use in preaching and teaching (and beyond, depending on the interests and expertise of members of the class – e. g, the singing of the Psalms, etc.).

B506 Midrash and the Pastoral Imagination
“Midrash” is a classical Hebrew term signifying the processes by which the sages of the Jewish tradition make meaning out of the biblical text. In this course, we will explore the rabbinic approach to interpreting Scripture and the ways in which this process may inform “the pastoral imagination,” that is, the creative lives of persons engaged in ministry. Our inquiry will originate in the classical rabbinic tradition, and then will extend outward to contemporary approaches of biblical meaning making, both Jewish and Christian, in literature and in the visual arts. Our topics of study will include: a contextual engagement of classical Jewish sources, the centrality of the story in Jewish exegesis and tradition, narrative theology and ethics in classical and contemporary thought, contemporary examples of applied midrash, and the image of Moses as religious leader past and present. Participants should be prepared to bring their own stories and experiences as we learn how to become “midrashists” in our own lives as faith leaders.

B507 Biblical Families
What is a biblical family?  This course examines the understandings of family revealed through socio-historical study of the Bible and how these perspectives can inform the practices of ministry.  We will turn our attention to the contrasts between ancient and modern social and economic structures, including marriage, reproduction, and extended family, exploring how they play out in the interpretation of biblical texts.  Students will be encouraged to explore what this ancient witness can teach us toward a more global awareness and the vitality of the church into the future.





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