Professor Bryan Rennie
Understanding the Bible
SCHEDULE OF CLASSES

Week 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|14|15|16|

This class will meet from 7:40 until 9:10 on Tuesday and Thursday in Patterson Hall 210

I will be available in my office from 9:30 until 10:30 everyday (and at other times by arrangement).


Week 1. Introduction to the Bible.
Tuesday. 8/28
Introduction. Contents of the Bible: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The terms of the study.
Assignment: look at the class webpages, especially the description of the course. Read Fant, Musser, and Reddish, An Introduction to the Bible (=FMR 21-28), Part One, "The Bible and Western Culture," and "The Cultural Influence of the Bible." Think about "stories."

Thursday. 8/30
"What is the Bible?" (FMR 28-34)
The contents and canonization of the Jewish Bible.


Week 2. The Study of the Bible.
Tuesday. 9/4
Biblical criticism: "Methods and Tools for Studying the Bible" (FMR 35-54).

Thursday. 9/6
"The Origins and Development of the Bible" and "The Process of Translation" (FMR 55-73)
The manuscripts and papyri etc.


Week 3. The Context of the Bible.
Tuesday. 9/11
"The Cultural and Geographic Context of the Bible" (FMR 75-94)
Significant dates in Biblical History.

Thursday. 9/13
Early Jewish Tradition (FMR 97-109)
The Ancestral Tradition.
From this point on you are required to read AT LEAST the "Suggested Biblical Readings" given in FMR at the beginning of each chapter.


Week 4. History in the Old Testament, continued.
Tuesday. 9/18
The Exodus and Wilderness Traditions (FMR 109-134)

Thursday. 9/20
The United Monarchy under Saul, David, and Solomon (FMR 135-149)



Week 5. History in the Old Testament, continued.
Tuesday. 9/25
"Theological Developments During the Monarchy" (FMR 150-154) and "The Divided Kingdom" (FMR 155-174)

Thursday. 9/27
Quiz #1: FMR 1-174: Textual Criticism, History of Israel, and Developments in the Biblical Text.



Week 6. The Literatures of the Bible. Prophecy.
Tuesday. 10/2
The Pre-Exilic Prophets (FMR 175-204)

Thursday. 10/4
The Exile, Exilic Prophets, and Exilic History (FMR 205-232)



Week 7. Exile and Restoration
Tuesday. 10/9
The Return from Exile and new literature: Wisdom Literature (233-249).

Thursday. 10/11 A Discussion of Wisdom Literature: The Books of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes.
Preparation for the next quiz. Note that your first paper is due in on 10/25.
You are required to submit a title and brief thesis statement for your first paper today, 10/11.


Week 8.
Tuesday. 10/16
Quiz #2: FMR 175-249: Exile and Restoration, Prophecy, and Wisdom Literature.

Thursday. 10/18 Apocalyptic Literature and the Apocrypha
The Origins of Apocalyptic Literature and the Book of Daniel (FMR 271-291).
The influence of the Zoroastrian tradition.
See: Professor Rennie on Zoroastrianism.


Week 9.
Tuesday. 10/23

The Hellenistic and Roman Periods (FMR 251-270 and 288-291)

Thursday. 10/25 The New Testament.
Jesus and Early Christianity (FMR 295-318)
The Quest for the Historical Jesus. The Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith.

First paper due Thursday 25th October.

Midsemester Break Saturday October 27 to Tuesday October 30


Week 10.
Tuesday. 10/30 No Class (Monday Classes meet today.)

Thursday. 11/1
The Gospels: the priority of Mark. and the Synoptic problem (FMR 319-336)
Themes in the Gospel of Mark.



Week 11. Some Gospel Narratives.
Tuesday. 11/6 Matthew, Luke, and John (FMR 337-357)
The arrest of Jesus. The trial, execution and Resurrection.

Thursday. 11/8
Russ Breault, an expert on the Shroud of Turin, will talk to the class today.

Can we consider the Shroud as part of the "quest for the historical Jesus"?



Week 12. Other New Testament Works.
Tuesday. 11/13
The Acts of the Apostles (FMR 359-373)
You are required to submit a title and brief thesis statement for your second paper today.

Thursday. 11/15
Paul and his conversion (FMR 373-377 and 387-390).
See: Luke's account of the conversion of Paul from Acts 9 and 22;
Paul's account of his conversion from Galatians 1;


Week 13.
Tuesday. 11/20
Quiz #3: FMR 250-390: Judaism and the Greco-Roman World, the Quest for the Historical Jesus, the Gospels, Luke/Acts.


Thanksgiving Break, Wednesday 11/21 until Sunday 11/25


Week 14. Paul and The Church in the Roman Empire.

The Developing Institutional Church
Tuesday. 11/27 Paul and the Greco-Roman Empire (FMR 379-416)

Thursday. 11/29 The Early Church (FMR 417-436). Discussion.


 Second paper due, Thursday November 29th.


Week 15. The Church in Conflict
Tuesday. 12/4
The Church in Conflict and the Apocalypse (Revelations) of St. John (FMR 437-455)
Discussion of papers and of the final exam.
This evening at 5:30 in the Mueller Theater there will be a screening of Education under Fire in Iran, a video about the persecution of the Baha'i faith in contemporary Iran. Students are strongly encouraged to attend and to think about the comparison with the persecution of the Hebrew and Christian traditions in the past.

Thursday. 12/6
Quiz #4 (FMR 359-436: Luke/Acts, Paul, and the Developing Church).
Student Assessments of the course.


Week 16.
Reading Day, Wednesday December 12th.
The Take-Home Final is due by e-mail on Thursday December 13th by 4:30.
Term ends Friday, December 14th.



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brennie@westminster.edu