Academic Programs

Biblical Studies

BS 101/101-O Introduction to Old Testament History & Literature

This course introduces students to the diversity of literary and theological traditions in the Old Testament. Attention will be given to the formation and role of these traditions in the context of the life and history of the people of Israel and to their function in contemporary life and faith.
3 semester hours.

BS 102/102-O Introduction to New Testament History & Literature

This course offers a survey of the 27 writings that compose the New Testament canon. We will study each of these writings with attention to their literary form and content, their origins in the life of early Christian communities, and their meanings for readers today.
3 semester hours.

BS 111, 112 Hebrew I & II

These courses provide an introduction to basic Hebrew grammar and vocabulary, as well as to the tools for translation, such as lexicons and dictionaries. These courses prepare the student for subsequent reading and exegesis of the Hebrew biblical texts.
3 semester hours.

BS 330 Bible, Violence, and Nonviolence

This course examines key biblical texts on such issues as warfare, nonviolence, gender, race, and ecology. Both those passages that present varieties of peacemaking efforts and the difficult texts presenting various forms of violence will be explored. In addition to the usual historical-critical tools, literary approaches will also be applied to these texts.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O or B 102/102-O

BS 334 Bible in Global Context

This course focuses on approaches to biblical interpretation from contexts outside of the dominant white, North American context. Students will engage with the writings of biblical interpreters from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as liberation and post-colonial readings of the text. In addition to understanding the point of view of the interpreter and the role of context in their interpretation, students will critically consider the role of their own context in interpretation.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O or B 102/102-O

BS 337 Writing Midrash

This is one of several courses that considers the intersection of biblical interpretation and M.Div. area emphases. Midrash is a form of interpretation that developed in Judaism. It expands upon the biblical story by imagining what might fill or trying to explain the gaps in biblical narrative. Midrash becomes a way to retell the story, either to reinforce an older interpretation or to pull the text’s meaning in a new direction. Students will be introduced to the methods of midrash by reading various midrashim ancient and modern. Students will then engage in writing their own midrash to interpret a biblical text.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O or B 102/102-O

BS 338-T Bible and Pastoral Care

This is one of several courses that considers the intersection of biblical interpretation and M.Div. area emphases. This course will consider the issues of biblical authority and hermeneutics in a pastoral care context. Some of the issues that may be considered are: biblical views of the human condition (suffering, sexuality, death, etc.), the (mis)use of the Bible in pastoral care situations, psychological interpretations of the Bible, appropriate use of the Bible in giving counsel and in religious ritual.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: PC 101/101-O and BS 101/101-O or B 102/102-O

BS 339-T Quakers & Bible

What place does the Bible have in our lives, according to the variety of Quaker viewpoints? What makes particular reading of the Bible a Quaker reading? How have Quakers made use of the Bible, both in devotions and in public discourse? In what ways have Quakers interacted with various Biblical translations, including serving as translators? In what ways have Quakers engaged the Bible in study and scholarship, both as meetings and as individuals? We will explore such questions over the 350-plus years of Quaker history, as well as sampling from different parts of the Quaker spectrum.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: Any ESR Quakerism course AND either BS/B 101 or BS/B 102; pre-requisites may be waived by an instructor.

BS 350 John

The focus of this Bible seminar will be on the narrative development of the Jesus story in the Gospel of John. We will first address the issue of the writing of the Gospel, whether it is to be considered a dependable source for the historical Jesus and what it’s relationship is to the synoptic gospel tradition. We will proceed then to discuss the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel and the way in which that has been important in the development of Quakerism.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O or B 102/102-O

BS 352 Exodus

This is one of several upper level courses that focuses on the content, context, and contemporary meaning of specific OT book(s). This course is an in-depth study of the book of Exodus. A literary/narrative reading of the text will be the primary methodological approach. Where appropriate historical issues will be raised. Attention will also be given to issues of social location, theology, and the ways in which the book of Exodus has meaning for contemporary faith and practice.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O

BS 353-O Romans

Paul’s letter to the Romans is arguably the most important document in Christian history and theology. In this seminar we will combine a close analysis of the text with reading current literature on Paul, his theology in relationship to Jewish thought of the period, and his literary and philosophical enterprise in relation to Greco-Roman moral philosophy.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: B 102/102-O

BS 355 Biblical Poetry

This course is devoted to the analysis of biblical poetry as exemplified by prophetic literature and the psalms. Students will be introduced to the structures of Hebrew poetry and other techniques of biblical interpretation that will enable the student to interpret poetic texts in their historical or existential situations. The aim is for each student to develop their ability to responsibly explain and interpret the text in order to understand how these poets are interpreting the divine/human relationship and how that interpretation connects to faith and life today.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O

BS 356 Wisdom

A careful study of Israel’s wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and Apocryphal books), in its ancient Near Eastern cultural setting and within its own religious and social context. Special attention is paid to the social construct of this literature and the worldview within which it lives and functions. A focus of the course is the interpretation of this literature by ancient and modern interpreters.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O

BS 357 Prophecy/Apocalyptic

In the same way as early Christians interpreted the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible to be fulfilled in Jesus, later Christians have interpreted that prophetic and apocalyptic literature of the Bible to predict the events of the end of the age. We will examine these ancient texts broadly according to their literary forms, critique modern Christian interpretive schemes, and construct other ways these texts may speak to the human hope for a final triumph over evil and suffering in the world.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O & B 102/102-O

BS 370 Jesus as Sage

If one accepts the broad consensus of scholarship about the canonical Gospels, what can we say about the figure of Jesus as the wise, spirit-filled teacher? We will examine the historical context of sages both in the Hebrew prophetic and rabbinic context as well as in the Hellenistic literature portraying the wandering philosopher and wonder-worker. We will then study the teaching of Jesus within these layers of tradition and the approach to life it suggests.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: B 102/102-O

BS 371 Biblical Narrative

Studies the method of interpretation known as “narrative” or “literary” criticism, which focuses on the literary quality of the Old Testament. Plot, characterization, point of view, and other aspects of this discipline will be used to interpret narrative portions of the Old Testament such as Ruth, Esther, and Jonah.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O

BS 372 Images of God

This is one of several upper level courses that examine a theme or issue and its synchronic and/or diachronic development within the Old Testament. This course examines the diversity of images of God in the Old Testament. Students will explore the meaning and significance of these images for Israel and contemporary communities of faith. Students will also consider how these images cohere with their own understanding of God.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101 or B 102

BS 375 Women in the Old Testament

This is one of several upper level courses that examine a theme or issue and its synchronic and/or diachronic development within the Old Testament. This course considers women in the Old Testament, including the Apocrypha. The course focuses on how women are characterized and their various social roles and locations within each biblical book. The course gives attention to the similarities and differences of women’s roles and status in the social and religious contexts of ancient Israel and today. The course assumes basic knowledge of the content and history of the OT.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O or B 102/102-O

BS 390/390-O/390-T  Seminar in Biblical Studies

Reading and research on selected topics from the Bible, including both book studies from different parts of the Old and New Testaments and topical studies, e.g., Images of God in the Old Testament; Women in the Old Testament; Apocalyptic Literature; Old Testament Theology; Psalms; Gospel of John; Pauline Psychagogy; James; Revelation; NT Apocrypha. Different topics are considered in subsequent offerings; therefore this seminar may be taken for credit more than once.
3 semester hours.
Prerequisite: BS 101/101-O or B 102/102-O

BS 400 Independent Study

Students who have demonstrated appropriate academic or professional abilities may engage in a specialized study project under the supervision of a faculty member. Independent Study forms are available from the office of Academic Services and at sas.earlham.edu.
3 semester hours.

BS 500 Master’s Thesis

The thesis is a major work in research in the field of the student’s vocational or educational interest.
9 semester hours.