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Campus offering

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THBS501 Biblical Studies and THBS562 Introducing the Scriptures

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning. The total involves formally structured on-line modules and seminars comprising input from the lecturer and collaborative activity among participants, as well as two days of face-to-face learning sessions.

Unit rationale, description and aim

In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis challenges Catholics to proclaim the vision of the gospel in light of the challenges of contemporary times (EG, 92, 114, 127-129, 220, 175). For those undertaking leadership in the Church, a process of theological reflection such as that of the Pastoral Cycle (the process of 'See, Judge, Act') is fundamental in reading the signs of the times and engaging in a mission that paves the way for individual and communal transformation. The capacity to use the Bible critically in the process of theological reflection is vital for those who undertake leadership for mission today.

In this unit, participants will have the opportunity to bring the experiences and questions of their own contexts into dialogue with texts concerning figures of leadership within the biblical tradition. Learning is structured to support participants approach an encounter with the Bible as a key dimension of theological reflection. Participants will be given opportunities to employ the skills, tools and resources for critical biblical interpretation to evaluate issues in the context of their current situations and to identify the subsequent implications for action. This unit is aimed at supporting participants to understand the function of a critical and reflexive approach to interpreting the Bible in the process of theological reflection for leadership and mission.

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- Identify a variety of different approaches to biblical interpretation such as narrative, hermeneutical, exegetical, historical-critical, socio-literary, contextual and liberationist (GA4, GA5, GA8); 

LO2 - Utilize contemporary approaches to the study of the Bible in a critical analysis of selected biblical passages that pertain to the exploration of leadership figures in the biblical tradition; (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA9); 

LO3 - Apply the skills, tools and resources of critical biblical interpretation within a theological reflection process, such as the Pastoral Cycle (GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9). 

Graduate attributes

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

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  • An introduction to the Bible; 
  • The Bible in the Catholic tradition; 
  • Contemporary approaches to the Bible: historical criticism, literary criticism, narrative criticism, forms of contextual, liberationist and future-oriented interpretation; 
  • Leadership and mission from a biblical perspective; 
  • Critical readings of figures of leadership and mission in the biblical tradition; 
  • Engaging with the Bible in the process of theological reflection.  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning. The total involves formally structured on-line modules and seminars comprising input from the lecturer and collaborative activity among participants, as well as two days of face-to-face learning sessions. During the face-to-face sessions, participants will be engaged in an active learning environment that consists of input, reading, and discussion. You will learn with and from the lecturer and each other through critical analysis, discussion, dialogue and reflection. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the required pre-reading for the Adobe sessions and the face-to-face component, as well as preparation for and completion of assessment tasks. The list of pre-reading tasks is available on LEO. 


Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategies for this unit are designed to align with the learning outcomes. The cumulative aim of all tasks is to build your capacity for critical examination and reflexive interpretation of the Bible within a process of theological reflection. Each assessment task provides opportunities for you to expand the knowledge and skills you are developing through your own reading and research as well as during the online seminars and face-to-face learning sessions. They require you to extrapolate on the understandings you have developed in the course to consider specific biblical texts for your own current context and specific leadership/ministry role. Each task will also enable you to monitor how well you are engaging with the content of the unit and how you relate it to your context.   

To pass this unit, you are required to participate in all learning activities, including the online sessions, to complete and submit all assessment tasks and to attain a minimum overall grade of 50%. 

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for you to demonstrate your achievement of each learning outcome.  

Task 1 asks you to describe current approaches to biblical interpretation. This formative task is designed to enable you to articulate the major methods and approaches used in contemporary biblical studies;  

Task 2 asks you to undertake a critical analysis of a selected biblical passage. This assignment allows you to demonstrate skills in critically interpreting a biblical text utilising contemporary approaches to and resources for biblical interpretation;  


Task 3 invites you to compose a theological reflection that utilizes the portraits of leadership in the biblical tradition as the primary religious resource. You are required to undertake a social analysis of an issue, which is then further evaluated in dialogue with a depiction of leadership in the Bible, employing the skills, tools and resources of critical biblical analysis developed in this unit. You are asked to outline possible leadership actions that may be taken as result of insights that emerge in the analysis. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Forum Posts 

Maximum 1000 words 



GA4, GA5 

Critical analysis of a selected biblical passage 

2000 words 



GA 1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Theological reflection 

2500 words 



GA 1, GA2,GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Bevans, Stephen B., and Katalina Tahaafe-Williams. Contextual Theology for the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2012. 


Bieringer, R., Mary Elsbernd, and Susan M. Garthwaite. Normativity of the Future: Reading Biblical and Other Authoritative Texts in an Eschatological Perspective. Annua Nuntia Lovaniensia 61. Leuven; Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2010. 


Brown, Sherri and Francis J. Moloney, Interpreting the Gospel and Letters of John. An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. 


Green, Laurie. Let’s Do Theology: Resources for Contextual Theology. London: Bloomsbury, 2009. 


Killen, Patricia O'Connell., and John. De Beer. The Art of Theological Reflection. New York: Crossroad, 1994 

O’Brien, Mark, and Christopher Monahan, eds. God’s Word and the Church Council: Vatican II and Divine Revelation. Adelaide: ATF, 2014. 


Pontifical Biblical Commission. “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. Catholic Resources website. April 23, 1993.


Pui-lan, Kwok. Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005. 


Schneiders, Sandra M. The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament As Sacred Scripture. Second Edition. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016.  


Second Vatican Council. Dei Verbum: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Vatican Archive. November 18, 1965. 


Segovia, Fernando F. Interpreting beyond Borders. The Bible and Postcolonialism 3. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2000. 


West, G. O. “Locating 'contextual bible study' within biblical liberation hermeneutics and intercultural biblical hermeneutics.” Hervormde Teologiese Studies 70 (2014), 1-10.  


Recommended references 

Consult the reading lists in each module in the LEO website 

Students will need a recent edition of the Bible- e.g. NRSV (New Revised Standard Version), NAB (New American Bible), NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), NIV (New International Version)-preferably with the Deutero-canonical literature included (this is sometimes referred to as Apocrypha).  

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