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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2017 - 2018

Module Title
Module Code

Online Module Resources

NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This module will explore how the Bible has been interpreted over the past several millennia, both in religious and academic contexts. Students will explore the history of biblical interpretation beginning in the biblical period itself, moving on to explore early Jewish and Christian readings, medieval developments, Reformation approaches, and early modern interpretation. Special attention will then be given to the current state of biblical studies, and the methodological pluralism that defines the contemporary era. Here students will encounter historical, literary, and theological approaches, as well as committed reading strategies such as feminist criticism and post-colonial approaches. The module will also note how different traditions have engaged with Scripture as both sacred text and object of critical enquiry. Throughout the module specific biblical texts and their reception history will be used to demonstrate the various methods, theories, and approaches to reading the Bible.

Learning Outcomes

1. Display a critical awareness of the major trajectories in the history of biblical interpretation;
2. Demonstrate an understanding of a broad range of approaches to the study of the Bible used in contemporary biblical studies;
3. Engage critically with the biblical text from a variety of vantage points used in contemporary biblical studies;
4. Demonstrate an appreciation of the similarities and differences in how Jews and Christians have read and engaged with the biblical text as Scripture and as object of scholarly enquiry.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24No Description
Class Presentation21No Description
Independent Study80No Description
Assignment Completion100No Description
Directed learning25No Description
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Inner-biblical interpretation and early translations

Church fathers and interpretation in the early church

Rabbinic interpretation

Medieval interpretation

Reformation and early modern interpretation

Contemporary approaches to biblical interpretation: methodological pluralism

The world behind the text: historical approaches

The world of the text: literary approaches

The world in front of the text: committed approaches

Theological approaches: canonical, theological interpretation

The history of interpretation and the Bible as sacred Scripture

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • Gorman, Michael J. (ed.): 2005, Scripture: An Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible and Its Interpretation, Hendrickson, Peabody,
  • Levenson, Jon D.: 1993, The Hebrew Bible, The Old Testament, and Historical Criticism (Jews and Christians in Biblical Studies), Westminster/John Knox, Louisville,
  • The Pontifical Biblical Commission: 1993, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Rome,
  • Primary Texts (ancient and pre-modern):: 0, Septuagint (LXX, Greek), Targums (Aramaic), Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Church Fathers), Genesis Rabbah (Rabbis), Rashi, Aquinas Calvin, Luther,
  • Alter, Robert: 1981, The Art of Biblical Narrative, Basic, New York,
  • Anderson, Bradford A.: 0, (forthcoming) Obadiah and Its Readers: Issues in the Reception of a (Very) Minor Prophet, PIBA,
  • Baker, David W. and Bill T. Arnold (eds.): 1999, The Face of Old Testament Studies: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids,
  • Berlin, Adele.: 1983, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative. Bible and Literature Series, Almond, Sheffield,
  • Barton, John: 1996, Reading the Old Testament: Methods in Biblical Study, Westminster John Knox, Louisville,
  • Béchard, Dean Philip: 2002, The Scripture Documents: An Anthology of Official Catholic Teaching, Liturgical, Collegeville,
  • Bray, Gerald L.: 2000, Biblical Interpretation: Past & Present, IVP, Downers Grove,
  • Brettler, Mark Zvi.: 2005, How to Read the Jewish Bible, OUP, Oxford,
  • Brueggemann, Walter: 1997, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, Fortress, Minneapolis,
  • Childs, Brevard S.: 1992, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible, Fortress, Minneapolis,
  • Cohen, Shaye J.D.: 2006, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, 2nd ed., Westminster John Knox,, Louisville,
  • Davies, Philip R.: 2009, Whose Bible Is It Anyway?, T&T Clark, London,
  • De Lubac, Henri: 1998, Medieval Exegesis, volume 1. The Four Senses of Scripture., Eerdmans, Grand Rapids,
  • Fishbane, Michael: 1985, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel, Clarendon, Oxford,
  • Frei, Hans: 1974, The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Hermeneutics, Yale University Press, New Haven,
  • Gillingham, Susan E.: 1998, One Bible, Many Voices: Different Approaches to Biblical Studies, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids,
  • Grant, Robert, and Tracy, David: 1984, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible, Fortress, Minneapolis,
  • Harrington, Daniel J.: 2005, How Do Catholics Read the Bible?, Rowman and Littlefield,, Oxford,
  • Harrisville, Roy A. and Sundberg, Walter.: 2002, The Bible in Modern Culture: Baruch Spinoza to Brevard Childs, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids,
  • Hauser, Alan J., and Watson, Duane F.: 2003, A History of Biblical Interpretation: The Ancient Period, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids,
  • Hendel, Ronald (ed.): 2010, Reading Genesis: Ten Methods, Cambridge University Press, New York:,
  • Kugel, James L.: 1997, The Bible As It Was, Harvard University Press,, Cambridge MA,
  • McKim, Donald: 1998, Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters, IVP, Downers Grove,
  • Neusner, Jacob: 1985, Genesis Rabbah: The Judaic Commentary to the Book of Genesis, A New American Translation, vol. II, Parashiyyot Thirty-Four through Sixty-Seven on Genesis 8:15-28:9. Brown Judaic Studies 105, Scholars, Atlanta,
  • Powell, Mark Allen: 2001, Chasing the Eastern Star: Adventures in Biblical Reader-Response Criticism, Westminster John Knox, Louisville,
  • Reventlow, Henning Graf: 2009, History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 1., SBL, Atlanta,
  • Reventlow, Henning Graf: 2009, History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 2, SBL, Atlanta,
  • Reventlow, Henning Graf: 2010, History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 3, SBL, Atlanta,
  • Reventlow, Henning Graf: 2010, History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 4, SBL, Atlanta,
  • Rogerson, J.W.: 1999, An Introduction to the Bible, Penguin, London,
  • Rosenbaum, M. and Silbermann, A.M. (eds).: 1929, Pentateuch with Targum Onkelos, Haphtaroth and Prayers for Sabbath and Rashi's Commentary: Genesis, Shapiro, Vallentine & Co., London,
  • Seitz, Christopher R.: 2005, "Canonical Approach.” Pages 100-3 in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. VanHoozer, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids,
  • Schneiders, Sandra M.: 1999, The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture, 2nd ed., Liturgical, Collegeville,
  • Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth: 1999, Rhetoric and Ethic: The Politics of Biblical Studies, Fortress, Minneapolis,
  • Sharp, Carolyn J.: 2010, Wrestling the Word: The Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Believer, Westminster John Knox, Louisville,
  • Sheridan, Mark (ed.): 2002, Genesis 12-50. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Old Testament 2, InterVarsity, Downers Grove,
  • Soulen, Richard N.: 2009, Sacred Scripture: A Short History of Interpretation, Westminster John Knox, Louisville:,
  • Thompson, Thomas L.: 1974, The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives, de Gruyter, Berlin,
  • Thompson, John Lee: 2007, Reading the Bible With the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis That You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids,
Other Resources

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