Teaching the Bible as Literature

Teaching the Bible in any context, especially the classroom, is tricky. Teachers and professors have to be careful not to present the text in a devotional context, because not everyone is a devotee. However, the Bible is also a rich literary work; excerpts from it appear in many curriculums, especially World Literature textbooks. With this in mind, discuss the best way to teach the Bible as literature. For example, could certain parts of the Bible be paired with different classics (the story of David and Bathsheba Romeo and Juliet, excerpts from Revelation a time-honored apocalyptic or dystopian novel)? What would be your chosen pairings? Are there any parts you’d want to stay away from, or parts that lend themselves to literary teaching better than others?

  • Eschatology, the study of end times, as related to the dystopian future could be useful here. – Munjeera 5 years ago
  • Good read! – Zoinks 5 years ago
  • Thanks. I hope somebody writes this. I would, but as a Christian and religion/philosophy major, I'm probably too biased toward certain POVs. – Stephanie M. 5 years ago
  • An overwhelming amount of critical literature has been produced on this subject; just type "bible as literature" (preferably with quotation marks retained) into a good library catalogue, and you'll find no lack of research materials. Though only a drop in the vast pool, one of the major influential writers on this subject (to my knowledge) is Northrop Frye. He'd probably be the best place to start for a novice. Also, a useful narratological concept which may be applied is GĂ©rard Genette's "conditional fictionality" (see Fiction & Diction, p.24), which he proposes as a means of evaluating narratives which can be seen as "a true story for some and a fiction for others"; he goes on to cite mythology -- irrelevant to whether referring to the polytheism of antiquity or the monotheism of today -- as a prime example of this category, saying "one may accept a religious narrative as being both truthful and literary, in which case its literariness owes nothing at all to fictionality." Hope this helps. – ProtoCanon 5 years ago

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