REL 295 - Special Topics in Religion
Credits: 3 credits in fall or winter, 4 in spring
Prerequisite varies according to the topic. A course offered from time to time in a selected problem or topic in religion. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Spring 2019, REL 295-01: Special Topics in Religion: Who Owns the Bible? (3). Where does the Bible come from? How did different texts come together to form the biblical canon? Who oversaw these processes? What is at stake—politically and theologically—in these processes? This course considers such questions and examines the composition and transmission of the Bible, as we know it today. In particular, the course focuses on the materiality of the Bible, including the surviving manuscripts and artifacts that help us reconstruct the ways in which biblical texts circulated from ancient times to the present day. We analyze the problems posed by the discovery of such objects, either through archaeological excavation or purchase on the antiquities market, and why such factors matter. The course culminates in a critical analysis of the recently opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which, since its inception, has been plagued by controversies, including the illegal smuggling of ancient artifacts into the United States and the display of fake Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts. Ultimately, the course uses this case study to consider the relationship between canon, commerce, and religious authority in American culture. The course includes a field trip to the Museum of the Bible. (HU) Sonia.
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