Skip to main content

Study information

The Bible: Past and Present

Module titleThe Bible: Past and Present
Module codeTHE1101
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Rebekah Welton (Convenor)

Professor Louise Lawrence (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This core module will introduce and interrogate the Bible not only as a library of ancient books reflective of the interests and ideologies of their authors and original contexts but also as a material object, icon and persistent influence (for good and ill) in contemporary cultures. You will gain methodological skills of interpreting biblical texts through engagement with key cultural themes (ancient and modern) including religion, identity, politics, place and displacement, and body and gender. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • Introduce you to both the historical contexts in which selected books of the Bible were written and the contemporary reception of these texts in different cultural contexts
  • Develop methodological and interpretative skills through close analysis of selected biblical texts and motifs in reference to broader themes permeating ancient and contemporary societies

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of key aspects of the nature of the Bible as a library of ancient literature and a cultural object of enduring significance
  • 2. Demonstrate awareness of key primary sources and issues in their interpretation

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Demonstrate understanding of key features of the Bible, its origins and its subsequent histories and interpretations
  • 4. Demonstrate awareness of the issues involved in using historical sources to understand religions and identities

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Communicate information about primary sources and their interpretation in lucid and logical written prose (both in creative writing and short Wiki pieces)
  • 6. Show sensitivity to the diversity of possible interpretations of significant topics and deal sensitively and generously with viewpoints different from one's own

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • 'What is the Bible?': [Sacred] Text? Translation? Material Object? Cultural Icon?
  • 'The Bible, Religions and Identities': Race; ethnicity and social groups.
  • 'The Bible and Politics': Imperialism; post-colonialism; liberation and conservatism.
  • 'The Bible and Place/Displacement': Land; migration; territorialism and utopia.
  • 'The Bible, Bodies and Gender': Corporeality; feminism; masculinity and sexuality.
  • 'Whose Bible is it Anyway?': Reflecting on biblical heritages.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Presentations to the whole module group along with smaller group work and discussion
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Opportunity to discuss assessment tasks
Guided Independent Study116Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Annotated plan, and bibliography for virtual letterNo fixed length1-6Written and oral comments

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Compilation of Wiki contributions40100 words weekly, plus artistic posting1-6Written and oral comments
Virtual letter501500 words1-6Written and oral comments
Participation assessment: completion of weekly posts1011 x 100 words, plus artistic posting1-6Written and oral comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Wiki contributionsWiki contributions1-6Referral/Deferral period
Virtual letterVirtual letter1-6Referral/Deferral period
Participation assessment: completion of weekly postsParticipation assessment: completion of posts equivalent to weekly posts1-6Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Barton, John, 2010. The Bible: The Basics, London: Routledge.
  • Barton, John and Muddiman, John, 2007. The Oxford Bible Commentary, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Beal, Timothy, 2012. The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book, Mariner Books.
  • Carr, David McLain and Conway, Colleen M., 2010. An introduction to the Bible: sacred texts and imperial contexts, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Clines, David J. A., 2005. The Bible and the modern world, Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix.
  • Crossley, James G., 2010. Reading the New Testament: contemporary approaches, New York: Routledge.
  • Davies, Philip, 1995 Whose Bible is it Anyway? Oneworld Publications.
  • Gooder, P., 2013 The Bible: A Beginner’s Guide, London: T&T Clark.
  • Moore, Stephen D. and Sherwood, Yvonne, 2011. The invention of the biblical scholar: a critical manifesto, Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
  • Sawyer, John F. A., 2012. The Blackwell companion to the Bible and Culture, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Theology, religion, Bible

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date