OverviewThe Bible is commonly thought of as a book that has got its story together, and a bastion of monotheism. We think of the Bible as the very opposite of the projects of Comparative Literature and Comparative Religion: one book, one literature, and one God. However, as soon as we start reading we discover a library of divergent books, literatures and gods. The bulk of the 'books' in the Bible pre-date structures like the codex and the author. They borrow, often very explicitly, from other literatures: for example, Wisdom Literature and Proverb Collections from Egypt and Mesopotamia, Greco-Roman novels and philosophical tracts.
Through a series of selected readings, students will critically engage the question of the comparative, the plural and the foreigner by looking at topics including (but not limited to) the question of the other, or the outside on the Bible's inside; other literatures from which the Bible borrows (e.g. the Epic of Gilgamesh or Lives of the Philosophers); narratives that are 'othered', doubled or tripled within the Bible (inner-biblical mimicry); and examples from modern literature, film and philosophy that adapt and respond to biblical narratives, tropes and gods.
This module appears in:
Total Contact Hours: 40
Method of assessment
Essay (3,500 words total) – 50%
Commentary (2,500 words) – 40%
Presentation & Write-up (10 minutes + 1,000 words) – 20%
Indicative Reading List
Assmann, J. (1997). Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press
Bal, M. (2008). Loving Yosuf: Conceptual Travels from Present to Past. Chicago and London: Chicago University Press
Freud, S. (1955). Moses and Monotheism. New York: Penguin Random House
George, A. (2003). The Epic of Gilgamesh. London: Penguin Classics
Levenson, J.D. (2012). Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Schwarz, R. (2004). The Curse of Cain. Chicago and London: Chicago University Press
Smith, M.S. (1999). The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel. New York: HarperCollins
Trible, P. and Russell, L.M. (eds.), (2008). Hagar, Sarah and the Their Children: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Perspectives. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox
On successfully completing the module both Level 5 and Level 6 students will be able to:
- Demonstrate coherent knowledge of and the ability to critically assess biblical narratives;
- Demonstrate coherent knowledge of and the ability to critically assess key biblical intertexts;
- Demonstrate coherent knowledge of and the ability to critically assess responses to biblical narratives, tropes and figures in select examples from modern literature, film and philosophy;
- Critically compare different 'literatures' and different religious models inside and outside the Bible;
- Demonstrate detailed understanding of the different cultural, religious and political contexts behind the different literatures studied;
- Reflect critically on concepts such as 'comparison', 'mimesis', 'interdisciplinarity' and 'the other/the foreigner'.
In addition, at the end of the module Level 6 students will be able to:
- Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of research and critical thinking that shows an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge;
- Undertake independent learning and to demonstrate this through the sophisticated use of refereed research in leading journals and other original materials;
- Demonstrate critical and analytical skills in their approach to key texts;
- Compare models of comparison in the fields of 'comparative literature' and 'comparative religion'.