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Biblical Literature / RELB/LITR 366

Reading the world's greatest work of art as a work of art

The Bible is the Single Greatest and Most Important Work of Art

Course Description
The Union College Bulletin describes this course as:

A survey of the Bible’s literary masterpieces from an archetypal perspective. Literary patterns, techniques, and terminology are applied to Bible writers and their writings.

Our Objectives

In this class, you will

  • be introduced to the tools to examine the Bible as a literary document and as a central source of sacred and secular literature,
  • be asked to apply primary sources to your world via outside secondary sources;
  • be introduced to literary discourse and be asked to demonstrate competence via discussion, writing, and class participation.

Course Perspective
Is it blasphemous to apply a literary critic’s eye to biblical texts?

If one argues “yes,” he or she may reveal a common apprehension about the Bible—that it is not up to the task of analytical scrutiny. If one argues “no,” as your teacher does, there is still a risk one may lose sight of the deep spiritual properties of the text by examining it from too secular a viewpoint.

That risk is real. However, your teacher is convinced that the power of the Bible is so strong that even literary critique cannot devalue its spiritual importance. What’s more, examining the literary quality of the most important literary source in Western civilization is not only worthwhile, but fundamental to one’s understanding of Western art, literature, philosophy, and culture.

In short, the Bible is the center of the Western canon. All other literary texts and artworks are simply orbiting satellites.