[Milton-L] Bible as lit

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 12 14:41:42 EDT 2008

And after selecting the translation, perhaps the KJV, there's also the question of the apocrypha, which should unquestionably be included and which involves the related question of deciding what to select among all the parts of the Bible -- is that process to be guided by the Bible's literary influence? And in understanding the parts to be read, what does one emphasize? For instance, the doctrine of Christ's descent into Hell is scarcely recognizable in the text without some intricate hermeneutics (and a bit of proof-texting), but the belief played such an enormous role in Medieval literature.
  Those are the sorts of things that I'd be thinking about.
  Jeffery Hodges

HANNIBAL HAMLIN <hamlin.22 at osu.edu> wrote:
  Dear Angelica,
I'll send along a syllabus and some further thoughts tomorrow, but one thought for now:
The question of translation and edition is key.  (Have we discussed this on Milton-L before, or am I confusing lists?)  First, I think it best to work from one translation.  My feeling is that KJV makes most sense in an English course, where the purpose is not so much a study of the Bible as a religious/historical document, but as a literary work which has profoundly influenced literature in English.  These distinctions are very fuzzy, I know, and can easily be challenged, but I think they still hold up in broad terms.  English majors are taking the Bible not to learn biblical archaeology, middle eastern history, or the fine points of higher criticism (let alone biblical Hebrew or Greek).  This is what religious studies or near eastern studies courses provide.  The English Bible (unlike most other translated works) can legitimately be said to be an "English" work, since it has been read as such for centuries, and since in this form it has influenced countless writers from
 Milton to the present.  This is not to say, of course, that brief forays into matters Hebrew and Greek, or bibliography, or ancient history, or theology (certainly) are not useful or necessary, just that the main focus is elsewhere.  Anyway, that is why I use the KJV.  In itself, it is the most elegant of English versions.  As Gerald Hammond and others have argued, it also still has claims to being the most accurate, at least in some ways (even with the huge 20th c discoveries of ancient texts).  And, finally, it's the most influential translation for writers in English.  If students get this version in the ears, they'll hear the echoes in Milton, Wordsworth, Whitman, Melville, Ginsberg, Morrison, etc. etc. etc.
My two (or ten) cents!  I expect there will be many who disagree.  The Oxford World's Classics, edited by Stephen Prickett, is the edition I've used, since it has a literary focus, it's relatively cheap, and I find it's mini-essays on each book (at the back) less cumbersome than the footnotes of study bibles (which tend to focus on matters of translation, text, and such).  The Penguin KJV, edited by David Norton, is another option, and has the unique advantage of following the Cambridge Paragraph Bible, so the text looks like other literary texts (not broken up into verses).  On the other hand, this is not the format that most readers have been familiar with over the years.

----- Original Message -----
From: duran0 <duran0 at purdue.edu>
Date: Thursday, June 12, 2008 11:09 am
Subject: [Milton-L] Bible as lit
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>

            > Dear colleagues,

> I at last have an opportunity to teach an undergraduate Bible as Literature course (NOT Bible AND Literature).  I was wondering if any of you have taken or taught such a course, and if so, if you wouldn’t mind emailing me your thoughts and syllabi.  I have some ideas but I find my courses and research turn out so much better with collaborative input.  All speed appreciated.  Many thanks.

> Adios,

> Angelica Duran
> Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature
> Purdue University
> 500 Oval Drive / Heavilon Hall
> West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
> U.S.A.
> <duran0 at purdue.edu>
> <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/directory/index.cfm?personid=80>

> Spam
> Not spam
> Forget previous vote

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Hannibal Hamlin 
Associate Professor of English 
The Ohio State University 
Book Review Editor and Associate Editor, Reformation 

Mailing Address (2007-2009): 

The Folger Shakespeare Library 
201 East Capitol Street SE 
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Department of English 
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University Degrees:

Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

Email Address:

jefferyhodges at yahoo.com



Office Address:

Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
School of English, Kyung Hee University
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Home Address:

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