The Bible and Literature

Open, Lecture—Year

The Bible: The story of all things, an epic of human liberation and imaginative inspiration. A riven and riveting family saga that tops all others in its depiction of romance, intrigue, deception, betrayal, existential dread, love, and redemption. An account, as one commentator described it, of God’s ongoing “lover’s quarrel” with humanity. A primary source book for major literature in the Western tradition, still powerful in its influence on the style and subject matter of both prose and poetry. In the first term, this course will provide close readings of major biblical narratives and poetry in Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Lectures will explore and interpret a number of patterns and literary types: the major historical narratives of both scriptures; the poetics and speech acts of creation, blessing, promise, covenant, curse, and redemption; the visionary prophetic tradition from Moses to John, the writer of the Apocalypse; the self-reflective theological interpretations of history by Hebrew chroniclers and the New Testament letters of Paul; the sublime poetry of the Psalms, the Song of Songs, and the Apocalypse of John; the dark wisdom of the Book of Job and of Ecclesiastes. The second term will study the work of major writers who have grounded their own work in biblical themes, narrative patterns, characters, and images. Selections will be made from the work of Dante, Edmund Spenser, John Milton, John Bunyan, William Blake, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison.