Literature of the Bible – ENGL 405

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

An examination of the literature and literary theory of the English Bible, based upon analysis and explication of selected passages. Special consideration is given to such topics as literal meaning, metaphor as meaning, and the rhetorical dimensions of various modes of discourse as they occur in Scripture. Research paper required.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


The Bible is the foundation of Christian belief. It is also a literary masterpiece worth studying not only for theological edification. Reading the Bible in genre and as literature will help students of the Bible see the drama of Scripture as a single story made up of histories. 

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (3)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Students are required to submit a thread in response to the provided prompt listed in the discussion. Each thread must be at least 400 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge whereby the student includes references and citations of course Learn material. In addition to the thread, students are required to reply to 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 250 words and should engage in the thesis of the peer's original thread. Replies must add additional reference material beyond what was included in the original post. Replies should challenge peers’ theses by including ideas from course material or additional readings on related topics. Note: Before replying to a student with multiple replies, make sure all students have at least one dialogue partner for their original thread.

Bible as Literature Reflection Assignment

For this assignment, students will write an 800-word essay describing three specific areas. First, it should provide the student's background and beliefs regarding the nature of the Bible. Second, the student will then explain how he/she thinks we should go about studying the Bible as literature. Lastly, the student will need to synthesize the course material up to this point with the best practices for reading the Bible as literature.

Narrative Scene Adaptation & Interpretation Assignment

For this assignment, students will write a 1500-word analysis of a biblical narrative. Students will analyze the narrative by dividing it into a series of Acts or Scenes. At each movement in the story, the student will set off the act or scene and explore the setting, characters, climax, or resolution. When completed, this assignment will contain in two parts. First, the student will adapt the story into the Acts and Scenes, and second, he/she will provide a commentary on the scenes as he/she interprets what the author of the text is communicating.

Poetry Comparison Assignment

For this assignment, students will write a 1000-word analysis comparing 2-3 pieces of poetry from Scripture. One of these pieces should come from within the Psalms, and one must come outside of the Psalms. If the student chooses to include a third, it is his/her choice on its provenance.

Prophetic Poetry Analysis Assignment

For this assignment, students will write a 1200-word analysis, beginning with the Servant Songs in Isaiah (42:1-9, 49:1-13; 50:4-11; and 52:13-53:12). After reading closely these songs, they will compare what Isaiah has seen in these Servant Songs with how the Gospel Writers, Paul, Peter, and the author of Hebrews portray Christ. Students should not cover every section, subsection or allusion here, but they should demonstrate a close reading of the texts, combined with clear exploration of New Testament material, in light of the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Bible as Literature Research Assignment

The purpose of this assignment is to challenge the student to explore more deeply how one of the following contexts should impact our reading and understanding of the Bible: Social context (e.g., Second Temple Judaism) and Literary context (e.g., Jewish Meditation Literature, Proverb, Exhortation, specific sub-genre). For this assignment, students will write a 2000-word thesis-based essay exploring either the social context of a passage or the literary context of a passage. The student will need at least 10 relevant sources that are specifically targeted at his/her topic. 

Quizzes (8)

Each quiz will cover the Learn material for the assigned module. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain 10 multiple-choice and true/false questions, and have a 1-hour time limit.