[Milton-L] Bible as lit

gilliaca at jmu.edu gilliaca at jmu.edu
Thu Jun 12 12:18:52 EDT 2008

 It's a course I've taught a fair number of times. I ask students to buy a common text for the class, but invite them ALSO [not instead] to bring a translation of their choice. This helps show that the Bible is a product of translation, and that translations differ.  Last year I used the Penguin KJV that is set up paragrraph style, like the RSV. It was interesting to see students encountering language I grew up on but which was alien to them. CAVEAT! The print in the Penguin is quite tiny.

I use a number of critical views - narratology, feminist readings, structural - I go primarily with narrative in Hebrew scripture and in Christian - depending on time, some in the Apocrypha. Psalms for poetry. DARN! No time for Revelation!

A lot  of what you need to do is to demystify the text so they will talk about it - show them the humor in it [Alter's The Five Books of Moses is excellent for those of us with no Hebrew].

It's also needful to distinguish between literary concerns and theological.

Many undergraduates are quite shocked to find polygamy, slavery, prostitution, rape, mass slaughter of captured enemies, incest, and grossness [book of Judges - see Ehud the Left-Handed Benjaminite!] etc.in the Bible. Sibling rivalry - all these 'holy' people could be on Jerry Springer/

It's a great deal of fun to teach.

Let us know how it goes!

Cynthia A. Gilliatt
English Department, JMU
JMU Safe Zones participant
"You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people you hate." Fr. John Weston

More information about the Milton-L mailing list