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THBS562 Introducing the Scriptures andTHBS502 Interpreting the Bible for Leadership and Mission and THMM502 Interpreting the Bible for Leadership and Mission

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

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 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 either online or intensive 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 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.

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

Achtemeier, P. J. et al., Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Themes (Winona Lake: Eerdmans, 2001) 

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

Bond, Helen K. The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed. (London: T&T Clark,2012) 

Brown, R. E., J. A. Fitzmyer and R. E. Murphy, eds. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1990. 

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

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

McKenzie, S. L., and J. Kaltner. To Each Its Own Meaning, revised and expanded (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1999). 

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

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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