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THBS502 Interpreting the Bible for Leadership and Mission , THBS562 Introducing the Scriptures , THMM502 Interpreting the Bible for Leadership and Mission

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning. This includes structured synchronous or asynchronous learning activities. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation and submission of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

From popular culture to law and ethics, the Bible has had an enduring impact on society. It is a central carrier of revelation for Christianity. It is also a book made up of diverse texts from different times, contexts and authors. At the same time, many hold that these books are united by a coherent narrative in which God reveals Godself to the Israelite people and enters into covenantal relationship with them. This relationship comes to its climax when God becomes human in Jesus, who is said to teach and heal, die and rise again to usher in a new covenant between God and creation. Study of the Bible is therefore fundamental to understanding Christian perspectives. Yet the study of the Bible does not happen in a vacuum, and it is also necessary for the interpreter to reflect on, and account for, their own assumptions and methodologies. THBS501 is designed to introduce students to a range of interpretative approaches and methodologies for the study of the Bible. Its aim is to enable students to broaden and deepen their engagement with the Bible in a spirit of open and critical inquiry.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe a range of approaches to biblical interpretation with sensitivity to different contexts (GA1, GA5, GA6)

LO2 - Reflect critically and ask deep questions, both of the biblical text and of their own interpretations (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO3 - Construct a reasoned response to the text and evaluate its contemporary significance, personally, socially, and religiously (GA1, GA4, GA6, GA8)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include: 

  • A survey of selected texts from the Old and New Testaments; 
  • The canons of Scripture; 
  • Forms of biblical literature; 
  • Definitions of exegesis and hermeneutics; 
  • Different methods and aims of biblical interpretation, e.g. historical criticism, literary criticism, contextual hermeneutics. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks.

Students learn through formally structured and sequenced learning activities that support the achievement of the learning outcomes. Students are asked to critically reflect, analyse, and integrate new information with existing knowledge, draw meaningful new connections, and then apply what they have learned. Collaborative and peer learning is also emphasised.

The learning activities enable students to acquire and assimilate foundational knowledge of biblical studies through application of, and critical reflection on, modern interpretative approaches. The learning activities are supported by the presence and articulation of the lecturer and tutors. Students will be guided to develop the academic skills needed for biblical study.

THBS501 emphasises students as active, adult learners. Students are recognised as adult learners who engage best when what they are learning is relevant to them and gives them the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning. In many ways, the student is the one who drives the learning forward. Active participation in this unit is essential. Learning is designed to be an engaging and supportive experience, which helps students to develop critical thinking and reflection skills.

Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes to cater to the learning needs and preferences of a range of participants:

On Campus

Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.


Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions and/or placements, to enable interaction. The full -day sessions may be timetabled outside of regular working hours. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.

Online unscheduled

Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 

Online scheduled

All learning activities are held online and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

ACU Online: This mode uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to demonstrate achievement of all three learning outcomes and achieve an overall mark of 50% or higher 

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to progressively demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome. 

Task 1 asks students to define and describe a foundational concept or approach for the study of the Bible (e.g. exegesis or hermeneutics). The task is principally designed to allow students to display achievement of Learning Outcome 1. It allows them a relatively low-risk piece of assessment to test their research skills, as well as academic writing techniques. 

Task 2 gives students an opportunity to research one or more methodologies for the study of the Bible and begin to critically reflect on its/their implications for the way the Bible is read and used in contemporary situations. The principal purpose of this task is to allow students to demonstrate achievement of Learning Outcome 2. 

Task 3 asks students to expand upon tasks 1 and 2 by applying a range of methodologies to the study of a biblical text (or texts). Students should also be encouraged to reflect critically on the appropriateness and usefulness of those methodologies. This reflection should serve as the basis for students to articulate a response to the text and to evaluate its contemporary significance, with sensitivity to different contexts and perspectives. The principal focus of this task is to allow students to display achievement of Learning Outcome 3.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Short research task 


LO1, LO3

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Extended research task 


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Exegesis and reflection task 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Representative texts and references

Barton, J. The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016) 

Collins, Adela Yarbro., and Harold W. Attridge. Mark A Commentary. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007.

Collins, J. J., Introduction to the Hebrew Bible: Third Edition (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2018)  

Collins, John J. Gina Hens-Piazza, Barbara Reid, and Donald Senior, eds. The Jerome Biblical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century. London: T & T Clark, 2022.

Law, David R. The Historical-Critical Method a Guide for the Perplexed. London: Continuum, 2012.

McDonald, L. M., The Origin of the Bible: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: T&T Clark, 2011) 

McKenzie, S. L., and J. Kaltner. New Meanings for Ancient Texts: Recent Approaches to Biblical Criticisms and Their Applications. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2013).  

Moloney, Francis J. The Gospel of Mark : a Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2012.

Monaghan, Christopher J., and Mark O’Brian. God’s Word and the Church’s Council : Vatican II and Divine Revelation. Edited by Christopher J. Monaghan and Mark O’Brian. Adelaide: ATF Theology, 2014.

Paget, James C., et al. 2012–2016. The New Cambridge History of the Bible. Vols. 1–4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Schneiders, S. The Revelatory Text. 2nd edition. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press, 1999. 

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