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THBS100 Introduction to the Bible

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation and submission of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The narrative texts of Genesis 2 Kings recount a history of Israel and Judah from the time of creation to the Babylonian exile in the early sixth century BCE. In doing so, they also form the basis for the covenantal theologies (Edenic, Adamic, Noahite, Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic) which are central to the Jewish and Christian traditions.

Building on the skills and knowledge learned in THBS100, this unit will further students understanding of the interpretation and significance of Israel's ancient narratives within their Ancient Near Eastern context. In this unit, students will use a range of literary, archaeological, and historical evidence to critically examine current theories about the origin, purpose, and theological significance of these texts. The aim of the unit is to introduce students to the social and historical contexts which left their mark on the narratives and the theologies they contain, and to provide opportunities for students to continue to develop their skills in methods of biblical interpretation.

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 - Demonstrate an understanding of the literary and theological characteristics of the Torah and the Deuteronomistic History (GA5)

LO2 - Apply methods of biblical criticism (e.g. form criticism, source criticism, narrative criticism, postcolonial criticism, feminist criticism) in a study of selected texts from the Torah and/or Deuteronomic History (GA1; GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Evaluate hypotheses situating the texts in the life of the people of Israel and Judah (GA4; 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 

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


Topics will include: 

  • A survey of the Torah and Deuteronomistic History;  
  • Methods of critical biblical scholarship, such as form, source, redaction and narrative criticisms;  
  • The Deuteronomistic Hypothesis; 
  • Ancient Near Eastern myths and their relationship to the Bible;  
  • Covenant; 
  • Ancient Near Eastern society and culture; 
  • Ideas about God/gods in ancient Israel and Judah. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation and submission of tasks for assessment. 


The unit is normally offered in attendance mode and multi-mode. 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 knowledge of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, particularly through modern interpretative approaches, and identify the importance of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament to the life of believers, supported by the presence and articulation of the lecturer and tutors. Building on the foundations laid in THBS100, students will be guided to develop the academic skills needed for biblical study.  


THBS205 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.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are required to attempt all assessment tasks 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 identify and describe important topics or concepts for the study of the Pentateuch and/or Deuteronomistic History. This task is designed to allow students to display achievement of Learning Outcome 1. The task allows them a relatively low-risk piece of assessment to test their interpretative skills, as well as academic writing techniques. Feedback provided from Task 1 will help them with the other two assessment tasks. 


Task 2 invites students to demonstrate fundamental skills and knowledge by identifying appropriate exegetical methods and using these to critically analyse the meaning and significance of a biblical passage, taking into account differences of context and genre. The principal focus of this task is to allow students to display achievement of Learning Outcome 2.  


Task 3 asks students to research a selected topic or passage in order to critique and attempt to resolve scholarly debates about the origin and setting of the biblical narratives. In doing so, students are encouraged to recognise their role as participants in those debates. 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 introductory research task: Require students to research and describe a key topic or concept for the study of the Pentateuch or Deuteronomistic History and discuss its contribution to biblical interpretation. 




Exegetical task: Require students to demonstrate their exegetical skills by analysing a selected biblical passage or passages and applying such skills to assist a contemporary audience to understand the Bible, taking into account differences in contexts and hermeneutical perspectives. 


LO1, LO2 

GA4, GA5

Major research task: Require students to investigate the social or ideological context of a select topic or passage and use primary evidence to critique hypotheses about the origin and setting of the biblical texts. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Alexander, T. D. and D. W. Baker. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship. IVP Bible Dictionary Series, 1. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2003.  

Alter, R. The Art of Biblical Narrative. Revised and Updated. New York: Basic Books, 2011.   

Arnold, B. T. and H. G. M. Williamson. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books. IVP Bible Dictionary Series, 2. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2011.  

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

Brett, M. G. Decolonizing God: The Bible in the Tides of Empire. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2008. 

Briggs, R. S. and J. N. Lohr. Theological Introduction to the Pentateuch: Interpreting the Torah as Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012. 

Chalmers, A. Exploring the Religion of Ancient Israel: Prophet, Priest, Sage and People. London: SPCK, 2012.  

Collins, J. J. and T. Herman. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible and Deutero-canonical Books. 2nd edition. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014. 

Matthews, V. H. Studying the Ancient Israelites. A Guide to Sources and Methods. Michigan: Baker Academic, 2007. 

Miller, J. Maxwell and J. H. Hayes. A history of Ancient Israel and Judah. 2nd ed. Louisville: Westminster: John Knox, 2006. 

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