BA Latin and Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Bible in Ancient and Modern Worlds

Unit code RELT10712
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Religions & Theology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit teaches understanding of the Bible as a collection of texts written in ancient contexts but with continuing impact in contexts today. You will learn skills in interpreting biblical texts in relation to other ancient texts, as well as skills in evaluating present-day uses of the Bible. The course covers key examples of texts from both the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. You will not need knowledge of Hebrew or Greek to study the course.


  • To begin to equip students with skills and knowledge that enable scholarly engagement with biblical texts
  • To begin to equip students with skills and knowledge that enable academic evaluation of current uses of biblical texts

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:


Indicative content: may vary from year to year:


From Creation to Redemption
Lecture 1 Beginning at the Beginning 

What is the Bible? Reading Genesis as a way in…

Seminar – The Bible in text and image

Lecture 2 – Creation and Temptation: Genesis from the Ancient Near East to Today

Lecture 3 – Exodus and Liberation: from Egypt to the US Civil rights movement and Hollywood

Seminar to lecture 3

Lecture 4 – ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ’: the Gospel of Mark, its Narrative and its Use of Other Texts

Lecture 5 – The Presentation of Jesus in the Gospels and in Modern Culture


Community Building and Maintenance
Lecture 6 – Community Building and Maintenance: Law and Life of Israel

Lecture 7 – Prophecy and Social Justice: Rhetoric or Revolutionaries?

Lecture 8 –Paul and the Life of the Early House Churches

Lecture 9 – Paul, the Cross and Redemption:  Rhetoric or Revolutionary?


Apocalyptic visions
Lecture 10 – Apocalyptic and Revelation in Past Contexts and Present Use


Lecture 11 – Revision lecture

Teaching and learning methods

  • 2 x 1 hour per week interactive lecture, including use of various media on current issues
  • 1 x 1 hour per week seminar analysing texts and their uses
  • Self-study of articles, films and other material via Blackboard, with supporting discussions in seminars and lectures
  • Office hour for one-to-one discussion

Knowledge and understanding

  • Knowledge and understanding of types of text in the Bible
  • Knowledge of key aspects of the ancient Near-Eastern and Roman imperial contexts of production of sections of the Bible
  • Understanding of how genre and context affect interpretation
  • Knowledge of some prominent ways in which the Bible is used in relation to current issues

Intellectual skills

  • Discuss the significance of key features of the ancient context for understanding texts in the Bible
  • Choose and make use of suitable strategies for interpreting various of the genres of text found in the Bible
  • Use a simple form of discourse analysis to draw together issues of form, content and context in interpretation of a text
  • Give a basic description and evaluation of some major scholarly approaches to, and conclusions 

Practical skills

  • Decide and implement strategies for offering academic evaluation of instances of current use of the Bible in a range of possible media, e.g., newspaper reports

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Skills in textual analysis
  • Ability to analyse ways in which current issues relate to authoritative texts
  • Ability to empathise with a range of approaches to hotly debated current topics
  • Ability to organise and carry out an analytical project

Employability skills

Retrieve information from complex sources
Written communication
Write in accordance with specific guidance for a particular purpose

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Analyse a short (1-10 verses) biblical text in its ancient context. The text will be the same for the whole class and resources will be provided.




Analyse a short biblical text in its ancient context and in one or two modern uses of it. There will be a choice of suggested texts offered. Students will be able to choose a different text, in consultation with the lecturer.




Written examination (answer any two questions from choice of eight)

1.5 hours




Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on formative essay


Written feedback on summative essay

Formative for exam and summative

Written feedback on exam



Recommended reading

Steve Moyise, Introduction to Biblical Studies (Bloomsbury, 2013, 3rd edn.)

Collins, J.J., Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2004. (Blue 3 221.1 C25)

David M. Carr, An introduction to the Old Testament : sacred texts and imperial contexts of the Hebrew Bible (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

Edward Adams, Parallel Lives of Jesus (SPCK, 2011)

David Horrell, Introduction to the Study of Paul (T&T Clark, 2006)

Adele Reinhartz, Bible and Cinema: An Introduction (Routledge, 2013)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Peter Oakes Unit coordinator

Additional notes

The course unit includes watching various films and YouTube presentations outside of regular lecture hours. Resources will be made available through Blackboard.

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