REL 101 - Understanding the Bible

Religion 101
Understanding The Bible
Fall 2007
Dr. Beverly Cushman
Department of Religion, History, Philosophy and Classics
Office: Patterson Hall # 126
Phone: 724-946-7127
Email: [email protected]
Office Hours: M-W-F 10:30-11:20 AM; Other times by appointment.
Course Overview:
Western civilization is based on the Judeo-Christian worldview. The foundation for this
perception of reality is to be discovered in the various texts contained in the book known
as The Bible. This single book contains two sets of foundational texts: The Hebrew Bible,
known by Christians as the “Old Testament” and the New Testament. These texts contain
over 4000 years of literature, culture, history and theology. The purpose of this course is
to introduce the student to the academic discipline of biblical studies and to provide an
historical and critical survey of the content and major themes using a variety of interpretive
Course Objectives:
1. To clarify what the Bible is, to become familiar with its contents and to discern major
themes and issues.
2. To cultivate an informed and responsible reading of biblical texts by learning how to
read carefully and critically passages from a variety of biblical books.
3. To explore the interpretation of these passages in their historical contexts (e.g.,
cultural, geographical, literary, political contexts).
4. To become familiar with the methodological issues involved in biblical interpretation
and the impact of modern approaches to the Bible on the understanding of these texts
in contemporary thought.
Textbooks and Resources
The Bible. Versions to be used for class: New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) or
New International Version, (NIV).
Stephen L. Harris, Understanding the Bible. 7th edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2006.
ISBN: 0072965487
Course Requirements:
1. Regular course attendance, preparation and participation in assigned class discussions.
Evaluation of participation is based on student attendance, evidence of class preparation,
including bringing a Bible and the textbook to class, and the quality of class participation.
2. One paper 4 - 8 pages in length.
3. Two mid-term exams
4. A final comprehensive examination.
5. Occasionally you may be asked to attend an on-campus event outside regular class
Your grade will be based on the following:
1. Class Attendance, Preparation, and Participation…………..…. 10%
2. Project/Paper …….……………………………………………. 25%
3. First Mid-Term Exam .………………………………............... 20%
4. Second Mid-Term Exam ……………………………………… 20%
5. Final examination……………………….………………………25%
Grading Scale:
A+ = 97-100; A = 94-96; A- = 90-93
C + = 77-79; C = 74-76; C-= 70-73
B + = 87-89; B = 84-86; B- = 80-83;
D + = 67-69; D = 64-66; D- = 60-63
F: 59-
Evaluation of participation is based on student attendance, evidence of class preparation,
including bringing the textbooks to class, and the quality of class participation. No extra-credit or
make-up work is assigned. Your grade is based on the work described in the course syllabus.
For more information on the grading scale please see my web page “General Course
Paper or Project
1. Paper/Project Proposal: Due: Friday, October 5, 2007
The Project proposal shall be one page, typewritten in proper format. It shall include:
a. The name, and scope of the paper/project.
b. A statement of how and why this paper/project will contribute to the student’s
learning about the Bible.
2. Outline and Annotated Bibliography: Due: Friday, November 2, 2007
a. The outline is to provide a preliminary overview of the paper/project.
b. An annotated bibliography lists all of the information sources that have been found
to date. It includes a brief description of the materials found and a statement of the
source’s usefulness in the preparation of the paper or project.
c. The annotated bibliography is to be formatted according to the Chicago Manual of
Style. All materials, audio-visual, book, journal article, web pages, and interviews
must be included in this full and annotated bibliography/project preparation paper.
3. Paper/Project: Due: Friday. November 30, 2007
Format for Written Assignments:
The format used in the humanities is the Chicago Manual of Style.
MLA documentation is not accepted in this course.
The details of The Chicago Manual of Style can be found in A Manual for Writers of Term
Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, by Kate L. Turabian. Seventh Edition. See also a basic
outline of footnote and bibliography style on my web page under “General Course
Each written submission, other than the final paper shall have the following heading:
Student Name
Professor Name
Course Number and Name
Assignment Title
Title is to be centered
The final paper has a cover page formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style.
The exams will be part objective and part essay and will draw from the materials read,
lectures, audio-visuals and class discussions.
Exam dates and paper due dates are not negotiable, except in cases of documented health
problems or a death in your immediate family. Missed exams cannot be made up.
Good attendance will be rewarded. A student is allowed three absences. Anyone with
fewer than three absences will receive an attendance bonus added to their final grade.
1. If you are involved in a sport and must miss class, the professor must receive a notice at
the beginning of the semester, signed by the coach, noting the dates and times the student
is expected to miss class. The student is also responsible for all material and information
given in the classes.
2. A habit of tardiness will count as an absence.
Late Assignments:
1. Extensions for papers and assignments are granted only in cases of documented health
problems or a death in your immediate family.
a. Request for an extension must be made in writing. The professor will provide a
contract form in which the particular assignment is outlined, and the date due is
stipulated. This contract will be signed by both the student and the professor.
2. Late papers will be down-graded one step per day up to a maximum of five days.
A B+ paper two days late becomes a C+ and a C- paper that is four days late becomes
an F.
3. Papers that are more than five days late will receive an automatic grade of F but must
be submitted in order to receive possible credit for the course.
4. It is the student’s responsibility to demonstrate that a paper was handed in on a given
a. If you do not hand the assignment to the professor personally, you must have the
secretary in the Department of Religion, History, Philosophy and Classics receive it
and initial it with the date and time received. Do not leave a paper under the door of
either the professor’s office or that of the RHPC Department office.
5. The student is required to keep a copy of the paper and any material relevant to it
preparation in the event of loss or a problem.
6. Grades of incomplete as opposed to failure are given at the discretion of the professor
and only in highly unusual circumstances.
Discussing Grades:
The professor will be glad to discuss a grade on the following basis.
1. The meeting does not take place on the day the student receives the work back.
2. The student has taken time to consider carefully the professor’s comments on the work.
Classroom Etiquette:
1. If you carry a cell phone, it must be turned off.
2. Please do not bring food to class. Your mind, hands and mouth are needed for participating in class.
3. Gentlemen, are to remove hats in class.