The Bible and Literature
This unit will develop skills in the theological and ethical analysis of contemporary culture, mission and preaching. The unit focuses on building a theological, historical and literary-critical account of the Bible as it has shaped the ‘great tradition’ of western literature and language, especially in English. It will assist students in thinking theologically about culture and in applying what they have learnt in pastoral and missional situations. We will examine how biblical themes have been treated; but also study a number of great authors.
The purpose of this unit is to make the student aware of the significance of the contribution of the Bible – in an ongoing way – to the practice of writing works of literature in Western culture.
At the end of the unit, students should be able to:
- have a grasp of the impact of the Bible on the Western literary tradition
- analyse literary and cultural artefacts from a Christian theological and biblical point of view
thoughtfully critique the challenges to the Biblical worldview that have arisen in the literature
The Great Code? The Bible in and as Literature
‘Simply’ Reading: Translating the Bible into English, with special reference to the Geneva Bible (1560)
The Creation (Genesis 1-2): Jasper and Prickett, pp. 65-79
Sin and Fall: John Milton and William Blake
Jesus of Nazareth in literature and film
Literary readings of John’s Gospel
Hell from Dante to Graeme Greene
Uses of Allegory: Piers Plowman, Pilgrim’s Progress, The Chronicles of Narnia
Hamlet – Shakespeare’s Protestant Prince
The Sermon as literary genre
Is there a Protestant Poetics? Sir Philip Sidney, John Donne, George Herbert
T.S. Eliot, Martyrdom and Murder in the Cathedral
Election and The American tradition: John Updike and Marilynne Robinson
Les Murray, Tim Winton and the Australian soul
1. 3000 word essay on a topic proposed by the student in consultation with the lecturer. (Externally marked) (60%)
This essay can be either
a critical analysis of an author or a single substantial work from the Western literary canon (broadly defined in consultation with the lecturers) from a biblical and/or theological perspective, OR
the tracing and analysis of a biblical theme in literary works, comparing and contrasting different treatments.
2. A 800-1000 word book review intended for a mainstream secular readership of Tim Winton's Eyrie
The goal of this assessment is to develop skills in using literary works for making evangelistic and apologetic connections. The piece should be brief and to the point.
3. A 1500 word literary analysis of a passage or book of scripture, identifying and describing how it works as a piece of literature.
The goal of this assessment is to develop skills in reading the Bible in a way which appreciates its literary features.
Frye, Northrop The Great Code: The Bible and Literature New York: Harvest, 1982
Josopivici, Gabriel, The Book of God, New Haven: Yale, 1990
Jasper, D. & Prickett, S. (eds.) The Bible and Literature: A Reader Oxford: Blackwell, 1999, pp. 65-79
The Gospel of John Authorised Version, 1611
Milton, John From ‘Paradise Lost’, Books I – II
Blake, William ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'
Dante Alighieri Selections from The Divine Comedy: Inferno London: Penguin, 2002
Greene, Graham Brighton Rock London: Penguin, 1991
Bunyan, John Pilgrim’s Progress London: Penguin, 2008
Lewis, C.S. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, London: Puffin, 1966
Shakespeare, William Hamlet, Sydney, Sydney Univ. Press, 1984
Sidney, Philip A Defence of Poetry Oxford, OUP, 1991
Robinson, Marilynne Gilead, Picador, 2004
Updike, John Roger’s Version, Ballantine Books, 1996