2023-2024 University Catalog 
    
    Mar 04, 2024  
2023-2024 University Catalog
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ENGL 237 - The Bible as Literature: Exile and Return


FDR: HL Literature Distribution
Credits: 4

Students may not take for degree credit both this course and ENGL 236. Prerequisite: completion of FDR:FW requirement. Stories of leaving, and one day returning, are found in nearly every book of the Bible. Leaving Eden, Ur, or Israel; being sold from one’s homeland into slavery; losing the messiah– all of these exiles are critical to any study of the Bible, as well as later literature based on the Bible. As the poet John Milton well understood, exile, by its nature, includes longing for a return either to Paradise, to one’s homeland, or to the deity’s presence on earth; it can also include desire for a new settlement, and a new historical era. Themes of exile and return connect the Bible to the genre of epic, another ancient literary form, where homecoming and settlement sometimes hail the beginning of a new people, nation, or age. In this class we explore themes of exile and return in Genesis and Exodus, I and II Kings, Ezekiel, the Gospels of Matthew and John, and the books of Acts and Revelation. Exile and return feature not just as recurrent themes in separate books, but as narrative forms themselves (such as epic, or even the law, which exiles narrative), as metaphors, spiritual states, and central tropes of Biblical literature. In addition to focused literary study, we engage with Biblical forms through the history of the book and in local religious contexts. We study rare Bibles available in special collections and facsimile, becoming familiar with how the bible was experienced in earlier historical periods. Finally, students engage in fieldwork involving attendance and observance of how local religious communities (outside of one’s own faith tradition) read scripture today.



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