English 371-01 Christopher Hodgkins
Literary Study of the Bible McIver 116
Spring 2003 Office Hours: MW ,
MW 2-3:15 334-4691 (o); 316-0463 (h)—before
McIver 135 firstname.lastname@example.org
1. To savor some of the finest writing in any language.
2. To enrich our study of the Bible through knowledge of its literary elements: genre, plot, characterization, figurative language, verse structure, etc.
3. To enrich our study of other literature through knowledge of the Bible: its backgrounds, themes, stories, characters, writing styles, teachings, etc.
4. To develop skill in close reading of texts, and to understand several other critical approaches to literature.
5. To develop skill in critical writing and group discussion.
--The Holy Bible, New King James Version (Thomas Nelson Pew Bible, ISBN: 0840700555).
Week 1 1/13 Introduction to course; Psalms Book I: 1, 8, 19
1/15 Psalms 22, 23, 32, 33, 39; Book II: 46, 51; Book III: 73, 88, 89
Week 2 1/20 King Day—No Class
1/22 Book IV: 90, 100; Book V: 110, 117, 137, 139, 148
Week 3 1/27 Lyric sequences: Psalms 120-34; Song of Solomon (entire)
1/29 Proverbs 1-9, 25-26, 30-31
Formal Psalm Paraphrase due in class
Week 4 2/3 Ecclesiastes (entire)
2/5 Origin Narrative: Genesis 1-2 (creation)
Week 5 2/10 Genesis 3-5 (sin, judgment, promise)
Psalm Analysis Paper due in class
2/12 No Class
Week 6 2/17 Genesis 6-24 (Patriarchs: Noah & Abraham)
2/19 Genesis 25-36 (Patriarchs: Isaac & Jacob)
Week 7 2/24 Genesis 37-50 (Joseph and his brothers)
2/26 Exodus 1-21, 32-34 (Moses and children of
Numbers 11-14; Deuteronomy 31-34
Week 8 3/3 Interlude—Law: Exodus 40 (Tabernacle): Leviticus 17-18, 23, 25
sex, festivals, and slavery); Deuteronomy 28 (blessings and curses); II Kings
17, 25 (fall of
3/5 Midterm Examination
Week 9 3/10, 12—Spring Break—No class
Week 10 3/17 Hero story: Judges 4-5 (Deborah); Judges 6-8 (Gideon); Ruth
(entire); Esther (entire); Daniel 1-6
Plan for Optional Research Essay due—in class
3/19 Heroic tragedy: Judges 13-16 (Samson); Anti-heroic horror: Judges 19-
21 (Levite’s concubine); Anti-heroic satire: Jonah (entire)
Week 11 3/24 Epic Narrative: I Samuel 8-31 (tragedy of Saul, rise of David)
3/26 II Samuel 1-24 (tragicomedy of David, tragedy of Absalom)
Week 12 3/31 Job (entire)
Week 13 4/7 “Forthtelling”: I Kings16-22; II Kings 1-13 (Elijah and Elisha)
4/9 “Foretelling”: Isaiah 1-14, 36-49, 52-53, 61, 65-66
Week 14 4/14 Jeremiah 1, 21, 23, 29, 31-32; Minor Prophets: Micah 5-6, Malachi 4
Apocalyptic: Ezekiel 1-3, 37; Daniel 7-12
4/16 Gospel: Mark (entire); Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2
Week 15 4/21 Mark; Luke 14-18, 24
4/23 John 1-4, 8, 11, 19-21; Acts 1-2, 6-10, 17
4/25 Optional Research Essay—Due
Week 16 4/28 Romans 1-4; I Corinthians 7, 11-15; Ephesians 5-6; Philemon (entire);
Hebrews 1, 11
4/30 I John (entire)
Apocalyptic: Revelation 1, 4-7, 13-14, 18-22
5/5 Review Session
Final Examination—Monday, May 12, noon-3 pm—NO EXCEPTIONS
Attendance and Participation: Due to the high demand for this course, I will drop any student not attending the first
or second day of class. Consistent attendance is mandatory. Regular and active participation in class discussion will raise your
course grade. Because of the accelerated summer schedule, after 2 unexcused absences I will drop you from the course. Attendance will be taken daily, and no absence will be excused without advance notice. Two unexcused tardies equal one
absence. In cases of adverse weather, classes will meet unless the Chancellor closes the University.
Formal Psalm Paraphrase (due 1/29): A modern prose version—in your own words—of the psalm on which you have
chosen to write your Psalm Paper—i.e. any psalm not on the syllabus. Include also a list of words and phrases used figuratively.
Psalm Analysis Paper (due 2/10): 2-3 pages (500-750 words) total. Choose any psalm not on the syllabus and in 2-3 pages
explain its meaning by commenting closely on its type, its rhetorical setting, its use of figurative language, and of such other
devices as refrain, parallelism, juxtaposition, etc. (these devices will vary from psalm to psalm). See handout for further instructions. The analysis is to be entirely your own; you are to do no research for this paper. Typed, double-spaced.
Plan for Optional Research Essay (due 3/17): you will a) write out your thesis idea in the form of a question, and then b)
briefly answer that question in no more than one page (250 words). If you choose to write the Optional Research Essay,
you must submit this plan.
Optional Research Essay (due 4/25): In a 4-6-page (1000-1500-word) research essay develop a specific, original thesis
about a biblical book or extended passage (but not a psalm), or about biblical influence on some other work of world literature.
Develop your thesis in dialogue with at least four critical sources. Cite all sources using MLA parenthetical style (see MLA
Stylesheet), and attach a Works Cited bibliography (not included in page count). Again, you may write on any book or
extended segment of the Bible, whether lyric, wisdom, narrative, epic, dramatic, prophetic, or epistolary—that is, anything
except the Psalms. THIS PAPER IS OPTIONAL, BUT YOU MUST SUBMIT IT AND A PRECEDING PAPER
PLAN IF YOU WISH TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR AN “A-“ OR “A” IN THE COURSE.
Late Papers: Late papers will drop a full letter grade per week-day. However, if you know that a major difficulty is coming up
and you’ll need more time, come see me well in advance.
Plagiarism: You are expected to abide by the UNCG Academic Honor Policy on all work. Plagiarism involves any situation in
which others’ work (whether their ideas or their actual words) is submitted as your own. A first offense may result in an F on
that assignment, while repeated offenses can cause you to fail the class and even be expelled from the University.
Exams: Two exams—one at midterm (3/5) and one at the schedule final examination time (Monday, May 12, noon-3 pm)—
will cover the first and second halves of the course, respectively. Exams will consist of essay questions and short-answer
definitions of key terms. Dates of both exams are firm. If you know now that you cannot attend one or the other exam as scheduled, you should not take this class.
course grade (20%).
Grading: I will grade on a straight percentage basis, as follows:
A 100-94 C 76-74
A- 93-90 C- 73-70
B+ 89-87 D+ 69-67
B 86-84 D 66-64
B- 83-80 D- 63-60
C+ 79-77 F 59-0
Your assignments count in the following ways:
Reading Quizzes: 20%
Formal Psalm Paraphrase: 5%
Psalm Analysis Paper: 15%
Optional Research Essay 11%
Midterm Exam: 24%
Final Exam: 25%
Plus or minus consideration of attendance and participation.
A word on the reading—I expect you to read all of the assigned texts and handout before class, and sometimes I will begin
class with a 10-point reading quiz. You are of course welcome to read any other Bible materials that you like, but keep in mind
that this is primarily a class in literary forms and traditions, not a course in religion or theology as such. Also, I recommend that
you read the assigned texts before any accompanying materials, forming your own impressions and asking your own questions
before listening to the “experts” (me included). In any case, don’t expect to breeze through the readings, or to rely on past
knowledge of the Bible, especially if it comes through movies or video.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: To enhance communication with English majors, the English Department maintains a listserve.
If you are an English major, please join the listserve by sending the following message from your e-mail account (whether on
campus or at home) that you use most regularly to email@example.com: subscribe English-l firstname lastname (giving, of
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