Course Memo

While much of the academic study of the Bible since the rise of historical criticism has tended to focus on the cultural, religious, linguistic, and political setting of the text's authors and redactors, a complementary approach explores how the Bible has been interpreted in the generations since its authorship. Often phrased "reception history" the study of the history of biblical interpretation considers the life of biblical texts post-antiquity. The class will begin with a consideration of "inner-biblical exegesis" or the way in which later parts of the Bible reinterpret or allude to earlier parts. Taking our cue from the Bible itself, we will consider interpretation a fundamentally biblical activity, and will engage commentaries, art, poetry, and homilies spanning the millennia and across religious traditions. We will sample a range of methods and interpretations, from Classical rabbinic and early Christian typological interpretations, to postmodern feminist and ecocritical commentaries. Readings will include selections from Rashi, the Zohar, Teresa of Avila, and William Blake. Written assignments will include a mid-term analysis of a work of art, and a final paper on one or more cases of biblical interpretation in light of the course themes. [Auditors with Faculty Permission]