[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!

C
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


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