PART B – Essay (worth 20% of final grade) The course text, An Introduction to the Bible: A Journey into Three Worlds, chapter 1 “The Three Worlds of the Bible: An Orientation” (esp. pp. 3-23) argues that it is useful to see the Bible from three perspectives — literary, historical and contemporary. The literary world is simply the text itself and the characters and stories that it creates or in other words, the world within the text. The historical world, or in other words, the world behind the text examines everything about how, when and where the text was written. Much of this was covered in the Week 4 lecture. The final perspective, the contemporary world, or the world in front of the text, is something we examine almost weekly when we look at how a reader of the Bible might interpret it or apply it to their daily life. Chapter 2 “Preparing for the Journey: An Orientation to the Methods of Biblical Study” groups types of studies applied to an examination of the “world within the text” as intrinsic and the “world outside the text” as extrinsic (see p. 27). What is interesting is that the authors admit that “intrinsic study yields not one, but many possible readings of texts” and “like intrinsic study, extrinsic study can distort texts.” Specific methodologies are named in terms of intrinsic study (formal and rhetorical criticism) and extrinsic study (literary history of the Bible, traditions, form, source, redaction, textual and canonical criticisms). Methods for studying the contemporary world of the Bible are inherently subjective since they are all about emphasizing the role of the reader in interpreting texts. Examples named are reader-response, deconstructionist, liberation and feminist criticisms. From this enlightened position of knowing that it is virtually impossible to construct a completely objective interpretation of an ancient text like the Bible, choose one of the texts (i.e., stories within texts) below and present a discussion of it from all three of the perspectives. In other words, begin with 1. a literary analysis, describing the story’s genre, themes, etc. (see H&Y pp. 28–38 for guidance), then 2. a historical analysis, summarizing what scholars say about its origins (H&Y, pp. 39–43), and finally with 3. a survey of contemporary interpretations (H&Y, pp. 43–46). In the last page of your paper, discuss how the historical or contemporary worlds seem at odds with or simply not in complete agreement with that shown in the literary world (i.e., sometimes what we determine about the history of a text conflicts with what the text says about its origins, sometimes modern interpreters apply the text in a way that obscures or contradicts the text itself). The best place to start the paper is with the literary analysis—this gives you the opportunity to become wellacquainted with the story you are studying. For the historical analysis, see what the textbook (H&Y) and the introductions and notes in NOAB tell you about the story; if you feel you need 2 more information, consult other sources but be sure to acknowledge those sources. The textbook is your first stop also for part 3, but again, if you need more, consult other sources.

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