San José State University
College of Humanities and the Arts

English and Comparative Literature
ENGL 115.01: The Bible as Literature Spring 2010

Place/Day/Time: Dudley Moorhead Hall 354, T/TH 12:00-1:15



Dr. Mary Warner

Office Location:

FO 127




Office Hours:

M: 2:00-4:00, T: 3:00-6:00, W: 4:00-6:00, Th.: 9:00-10:30

Furlough days: Jan. 29, Feb. 15 & 26, Mar. 1 & 12, April 5 & 16, May 6 & 18

Class Days/Time:

T/Th. – 12:00 – 1:15


DMH 354


As this is an upper division course, it is expected that you have already taken general education requirements such as ENGL 1A and 1B, and that you have already developed upper division skills as well as high standards for your written work.  In English department courses, your instructors comment not only on the content of your written work, but also on the quality of work being displayed.  All student writing should contain clear focus, correct grammar and punctuation, appropriate diction and syntax, and well-organized paragraphs.  (See the English Department Paper Evaluation Guide later in the syllabus.)


Web Page:

Course Description: Study of the Bible from the perspective of literature.  In ENGL 115, The Bible as Literature, students will examine key portions of the Bible, exploring its array of subjects, themes, literary styles and genres, and contributions to the literature of Western Civilization. (3 credits)


Course Objectives: Students will learn to


1. read, discuss, and understand the Bible from a non-sectarian literary perspective

2. identify, analyze, and interpret the literary devices used

3. identify, analyze, and interpret major themes in specific books of the Bible
4. recognize the Bible's rich contribution to other major literary works and integrate this knowledge with that for other course work in the humanities

5. produce thoughtful written work demonstrating the abilities learned in 1-4 above

Student Learning Goals: 

Department of English & Comparative Literature

I.  Skills

a)     Ability to read texts closely and to articulate the value of close reading in the study of literature and rhetoric.

b)    Ability to explicate texts written in a wide variety of forms, styles, structures, and modes.

c)     Ability to recognize and appreciate the importance of major literary genres, subgenres, and periods.

d)    Ability to respond imaginatively to the content and style of texts.

e)     Ability to write clearly, effectively, and imaginatively, and to adjust writing style appropriately to the content and nature of the subject.

f)     Ability to develop and carry out research projects and to articulate them within appropriate conceptual and methodological frameworks, including the ability to recognize when information is needed, and to locate, evaluate, organize, and incorporate information effectively.

g)     Ability to analyze texts other than literary or rhetorical:  for example, political, journalistic, commercial, technical, etc.

h)     Ability to read and speak a language other than English in order to understand the structure of English, gain access to other literatures for comparative purposes, and satisfy requirements for a post-baccalaureate or credential school.

II.   Knowledge

a)     Understanding of the historical development of the English language and of literature written in English from Old English to the present.

b)    Understanding of the relations between culture, history and texts, including ideological and political aspects of representation, economic processes of textual production, dissemination and reception, and cross-fertilization with other arts:  architecture, sculpture, music, film, painting, dance, and theatre.

c)     Understanding of the twofold nature of textual analysis:  1) objective study from varied analytical perspectives; 2) subjective experience of the aesthetic reality of the text.

d)    Familiarity with a wide range of works of British, American, and World literature, including folk and popular forms.

e)     Familiarity with a wide range of literary terms and categories relating to literary history, theory, and criticism, including figurative language and prosody.

f)       Familiarity with the nature of the canon and of canon-formation, including issues of culture, history, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

III.   Experiences

a)     Participation in face-to face exchanges of ideas with faculty and peers, including discussion groups and collaborative writing activities, making use of the cultural resources of the department and the broader university as appropriate.

b)     Engagement in independently-conceived projects, including the stating of a problem or issue and all the steps involved in organizing, synthesizing, summarizing, and analyzing information in order to communicate conclusions effectively to a larger audience.

IV.   Long-Term Goals

a)     An enduring interest in language and literature.

b)    A sense of the presence of the literary and rhetorical past.

c)     An increasing awareness of the depth and complexity of human existence, perceived across the boundaries of time, place, culture, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

d)    Long-term interest and involvement in aesthetic, cultural, and intellectual matters as well as in social and political issues.

e)     A developing understanding of the ability of great literature and of concentrated language study to awaken and challenge readers and auditors to struggle with profound questions of human identity and values.

f)     A personal critical perspective, and a sense of intellectual independence and momentum.


ENGL 115 specifically addresses the following Student Learning Outcomes

·      Ability to read texts closely and to articulate the value of close reading in the study of literature and rhetoric

·      Ability to explicate texts written in a wide variety of forms, styles, structures, and modes

·      Ability to write clearly, effectively, and imaginatively, and to adjust writing style appropriately to the content and nature of the subject

·      Understanding of the twofold nature of textual analysis:  1) objective study from varied analytical perspectives; 2) subjective experience of the aesthetic reality of the text

Required Texts/Readings: The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Revised Standard Version, 3rd edition.  Coogan, Michael D., ed; Brettler, Marc Z., Carol A. Newsom, and Pheme Perkins, assoc. eds.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. The Bible and Its Influence, Cullen Schippe and Chuck Stetson, general editors, New York & Fairfax, VA: The Bible Literacy Project Publishing

Other Readings

(Insert the list of any additional readings here.)


Library Liaison: Toby Matoush; Email:; Phone: 408-808-2096


Course Requirements/Evaluation:

1. Thorough and engaged reading of all assigned texts. The course's fundamental purpose is to increase students' familiarity with the literary aspects of the Bible, comprehensively, not as isolated quotations, and to this end, students must do consistent and careful reading.  20% of the overall grade for the course is determined by participation and discussion, neither of which can be done well without doing the necessary reading.  One specific measurement of participation will be the Key Quotes due Tuesdays at the beginning of class. Additionally any oral presentations – the response to a video in the Genesis: A Living Conversation series, for example – are components of participation.


2. Two essays of 3-5 pages--one of the essays will come from topics connected to the study of the Old Testament, specifically the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy); the Neviim (the Prophets)--selections from the Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings; and the Latter Prophets: Amos, Hosea, Habakkuk, Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; and the Ketuvim (the Writings)--including selections from Psalms and Proverbs, the book of Job, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes).  The second essay will be based on topics from New Testament or the Christian Foundational Writings--the Gospel According to Mark, the Gospel According to John (selections), the Acts of the Apostles, selections from Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Galatians; and Revelation.  Each essay is worth the following percentage of the overall course grade. 

Essay One--15%

Essay Two--15%

I will provide a rubric for scoring the essays as a separate handout.


3. You will give an oral presentation of one of your papers--you will be able to select that paper on which you'd like to report.  Oral presentations should be 7-10 min. and should offer your insights and research findings.  Oral presentations will earn 10% of your overall grade.


4. A mid-term examination that will account for 10% of the course grade.


5. Sustained Silent Writing (SSW)—each week we will do 20 minutes of SSW—your writing might provide the basis for one of your papers, response to readings or to ideas raised in class discussion.  Please keep a folder with the writing done in each of the SSW times and plan to submit it every other week for review.   This writing helps meet the requirement for upper level literature courses of 5000 words of writing.  The writing is done in-class only.  The SSW requirement is 15% of the course grade.


6.     A final examination that will account for 15% of the course grade; the exam is on May 19 from 9:45-12:00.


Grading: The above requirements total 100%; I will be assigning a percent for each and averaging the scores.  The letter equivalent is as follows and allows for plus/minus grading:

A--91-100 B--82-90 C--73-81 D--64-72 F--below 64


The Department of English & Comparative Literature reaffirms its commitment to the differential grading scale as defined in the official SJSU Catalog (“The Grading System”).  Grades issued must represent a full range of performance: A=Excellent; B=Above Average; C=Average; D=Below Average; F=Failure


Paper Evaluation Guide (Developed by the English Department)

In English Department courses, instructors will comment on and grade the quality of student writing as well as the quality of ideas being conveyed.  Student writing should exhibit correct grammar/punctuation and organized paragraphs.

The “A” essay will

The “B” essay will

The “C” essay will

The “D” essay will

The “F” essay will


University Policies

Participation Policy: According to University policy F69-24, “Students should attend all meetings of their classes, not only because they are responsible for material discussed therein, but because active participation is frequently essential to insure maximum benefit for all members of the class.” Because this course is predominantly discussion and lecture based, attendance and participation are essential.  The best education is more student-centered than teacher-directed, and to receive the best education, each student must be willing to make a significant contribution to the learning that happens.  Remember that 20% of the overall grade in the course is earned through participation, oral presentations and discussion.


Academic integrity

The University emphasizes responsible citizenship and an understanding of ethical choices inherent in human development.  Academic honesty and fairness foster ethical standards for all those who depend upon the integrity of the university, its courses, and its degrees.  This policy sets standards for such integrity.  The public is defrauded if faculty and/or students knowingly or unwittingly allow dishonest acts to be rewarded academically and the university’s degrees are compromised.


Plagiarism: At SJSU plagiarism is the act of representing the work of another as one’s own without giving appropriate credit, regardless of how that work was obtained, and submitting it to fulfill academic requirements.  Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to


(Adapted from the SJSU Academic Senate Policy, S04-12; please check this web site for the full policy:

According to the SJSU policy, the minimum penalty for plagiarism is failure of the assignment/paper/exam.  It is your responsibility to become informed about the Academic Integrity Policy.  I am more than happy to help you learn, but if you do not do your own work, that goal cannot be accomplished. Please see me if you have any questions about documentation.

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the DRC (Disability Resource Center) to establish a record of their disability.


SJSU Writing Center

The SJSU Writing Center is located in Room 126 in Clark Hall.  It is staffed by professional instructors and upper-division or graduate-level writing specialists from each of the seven SJSU colleges. Our writing specialists have met a rigorous GPA requirement, and they are well trained to assist all students at all levels within all disciplines to become better writers. The Writing Center website is located at

Course Calendar: (Subject to change to better address your needs and to accommodate any outside presenters)

Table 1 Course Schedule



Topics, Readings, Assignments, Deadlines



T., Jan. 26






Th., Jan. 28

Introduction to the course, the syllabus; Protocols for study of the

Bible from a literary perspective; Introductory writing activity;

Presentation of key terms and background

ASSIGNMENT: Introduction; Genesis 1-13-- and bring 2 Key Quotes to class; The Bible and Its Influence (B&IF) Chapters 1 and 2


Voices in the Text/Creation Stories/the "Silent Spots"--Begin discussing Genesis 1-13 and material from Chapters 1& 2 B&IF, SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Genesis 15-23, Chapters 3&4 B&IF, and bring 2 Key Quotes to class



T., Feb. 2





Th., Feb. 4

Video from the Genesis series

ASSIGNMENT: Cont. work on Genesis through Ch. 23, Chapters 5 & 6 B&IF; Responses to the video we’ve viewed in class; View one of the videos in the Genesis series before Feb. 11 and record notes for an oral report; Group 1 – SSW folders due on Feb. 4

Voices in the Text/Creation Stories/the "Silent Spots"—discussion of Genesis 15-23, SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Genesis 24-35 and 2 Key Quotes for class; View a video from the Genesis series before Feb. 11; Reports on Genesis videos: “Temptation,” “First Murder,” “Apocalypse;” Bring 2 Key Quotes to class



T., Feb. 9





Th., Feb. 11

Cont. discussion of Genesis 24-35, Reports on Genesis videos

ASSIGNMENT: Genesis 37-50 and 2 Key Quotes for class; Reports on remaining Genesis videos; Group 2– SSW folders due on Feb. 11


Oral Presentation of Genesis videos by Panels; Finish discussion of Genesis; SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Exodus--Chapters 1-20— 2 Key Quotes; Chapter 7 B&IF



T., Feb. 16



Th., Feb. 18

Begin discussion of Exodus;

ASSIGNMENT: Exodus 21-24, 28-29, 32-34


Explanation of Commentary Essays, Topics & Rubric for Papers; Cont. discussion of Exodus: the Meeting on Sinai; the Theme of Memory

ASSIGNMENT: Leviticus 1, 4, 7, 10, 12—2 Key Quotes; Group 1 – SSW folders due on Feb. 25



T., Feb. 23




Th., Feb. 25

the Slave mentality, Offerings, the Law and Service to God;

ASSIGNMENT: Leviticus 19-26; Numbers 6, 8, 11, 12-17; Chapter 8 B&IF;


Discussion of the Books of Leviticus and Numbers, SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Numbers 20-24, 27 – 2 Key Quotes; Group 2 – SSW folders due on Mar. 4



T., Mar. 2



Th., Mar. 4

Cont. with Numbers

ASSIGNMENT: Deuteronomy 1-13, 15-16, 18-20


Deuteronomy and "the Threefold If;" SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Deuteronomy 21-23, 25-27, 30-34 – 2 Key Quotes;

Paper 1 due March 9 or 11




T., Mar. 9



Th., Mar. 11

Completion of Deuteronomy;

ASSIGNMENT: Joshua 1-10 -- 2 Key Quotes; Paper 1 if not in; Group 1 – SSW folders due on Mar. 11

the Taking of the Land—Joshua 1-13; SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Joshua 20-24; Judges 1-6, 8, 11—2 Key Quotes



T., Mar. 16





Th., Mar. 18

Finish Joshua; Songs--the Song of Deborah; Jephthah's daughter; Samson; Oral Presentations of Paper 1, SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Judges 13-16, 19-21; 1 Samuel—2 Key Quotes; Chapter 9 B&IF; Group 2 – SSW folders due on Mar. 18


Finish any Oral Presentations not done; The History Books: I Samuel/"Absalom, Absalom";

ASSIGNMENT: 2 Samuel 1-24; Kings 1-4, 8, 10-13— 2 Key Quotes; Chapters 10 & 11 B&IF



T., Mar. 23



Th., Mar. 25

2 Samuel and begin I Kings; Review for Mid-term

ASSIGNMENT: Review for Mid-term



ASSIGNMENT: 1 Kings 17-19, 22; 2 Kings 1-5, 23-25—2 Key Quotes; Group 1 – SSW folders due on April 8



T., April 6




Th., April 8

Finish Kings; "The Prophetic Conventions”; Paper 2 Topics

ASSIGNMENT: Amos, Hosea, Habakkuk, Jonah—2 Key Quotes; Chapter 12 & 13 B&IF; Group 1 – SSW folders due on April 8


"The Prophetic Conventions; Amos, Hosea, Habakkuk, Jonah”; SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Isaiah 1-10, 40-66—2 Key Quotes; Group 2 – SSW folders due on April 13




T., April 13



Th., April 15

Isaiah: the Messianic Prophet; SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Jeremiah 1-15 and Ezekiel 1-10, 20


Guest Lecture or Video lecture on the Book of Job, Dr. Ralph Williams, the University of Michigan

ASSIGNMENT: Proverbs 1-8 and Psalms 1-10, 19, 23,42, 51, 89, 90, 120-130, 139, 150; Song of Songs-- 2 Key Quotes; Chapters 14-16 B&IF; Group 1 – SSW folders due on April 22



T., April 20




Th., April 22

Wisdom Literature and the Book of Job

ASSIGNMENT: Specific Chapter of the Gospel of Mark for Oral Reading; Chapter 23 & 24 B&IF


The Drama--The Gospel According to Mark; SSW

ASSIGNMENT: selections from the Gospel According to John--Ch. 1 and 13-21— 2 Key Quotes; Chapter 27 B&IF; Group 2 – SSW folders due on April 27



T., April 27




Th., April 29

The Poetic Gospel; Introduction to Acts

ASSIGNMENT: Acts of the Apostles; Chapters 28-30 B&IF; Paper 3 due May 4 or 11


Finish Acts of the Apostles; The Ancient Form of the Letter

ASSIGNMENT: Romans 1-11; I Corinthians 1-5, 7, 11-13, 15; Galatians 4— 2 Key Quotes; Chapters 31, 32 B&IF; Paper 2 due May 4 or 11



T., May 4





Th., May 6

Finish The Letters; Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature and The Book of Revelation, SSW

ASSIGNMENT: Chapters 37-39 B&IF; SSW folders for Final Check due May 13; Paper 2 if not in; Final set of Key Quotes;


Faculty Furlough – no class



T., May 11


Th., May 13

Oral presentations of papers; The Book of Revelation, SSW

ASSIGNMENT: SSW folders for All


Review for the Final Exam; Course wrap-up

ASSIGNMENT: Prepare for Final Exam



T. May 18

Study/Conference Day – no class

Final Exam


W., May 19