The Bible: An Introduction

VU Course ID: R105
Curriculum: 25 units
Fee: FREE
Textbooks:
  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha
  • Prerequisites: None
    Developer: Prof. Ina Lipkowitz
    Provider: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Recordable: Yes

    Course Description

    This e-course is an introduction to major books from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Particular attention is given to literary techniques, issues resulting from translation from the original Hebrew and Greek, and the different historical periods that produced and are reflected in the Bible. The Bible is a complex and fascinating text, written by many people, in different languages, over a vast period of time, yet it nonetheless displays an overarching (or underlying) unity, which some attribute to divine inspiration and others to the human imagination. Our purpose in this course is to consider the Bible as both a collection of disparate books and as a unified whole.

    Of course, it is impossible to discuss the Bible without reference to religion, but religion interpretation — whether Jewish or Christian — is not our primary concern. Rather, we will explore the Bible’s literary techniques and its enormous variety of genres — everything from myth to history, from genealogy to poetry, from prophecy to biography — as well as the historical periods that produced and are reflected in it. We will also consider issues arising from the history of the translation of the Bible from its original Hebrew and Greek. Our goal is to understand and appreciate more fully both the richness and the complexity of the biblical texts, as well as the importance of those texts to our culture.

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