THBS100 Introduction to the Bible
THBS204 Biblical Prophets
Teaching organisationThis 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
Prophetic literature is at the heart of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Spanning from the time of the monarchy to the Persian period, the prophets are often our only contemporaneous witness to events in the history of Israel and Judah. Against this historical backdrop the prophetic texts explore big questions related to God’s justice and mercy. Prophecy was not a static phenomenon, however, and the biblical prophets also reflect a range of perspectives on God’s relationship with his people. Moreover, the interpretation of the prophets’ words changed as the texts were transmitted through time and encountered in different contexts. In this way, prophetic literature came to be an important lens through which the life and teachings of Jesus were understood in the New Testament and the writings of the early Church.
Building on the skills and knowledge learned in other biblical studies units within the course, this unit will further students understanding of prophetic texts and the characteristic features and messages of biblical prophetic literature. The aim of the unit is for students to acquire knowledge of the phenomenon of prophecy in its social and historical contexts and to evaluate the significance of prophetic literature within the Christian tradition.
On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:
LO1 - Describe the nature and role of prophecy in ancient Israel (GA8)
LO2 - Analyse the social, religious, and historical factors which influenced the contents and theological message of the prophetic texts (GA1; GA4; GA5)
LO3 - Evaluate the reception of prophetic literature from different perspectives and in different contexts and its significance for theological understanding, especially within the Christian tradition (GA1; GA4; GA5; GA8)
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:
- The nature and function of prophecy in Israel and Judah with reference to the wider phenomenon of prophecy in the ancient Near East;
- The formation, character, and content of biblical prophetic literature;
- The historical and social background of biblical prophetic literature;
- A survey of Prophetic books;
- The theological messages of key prophetic texts and their reception;
- Critical methods applied to prophetic literature.
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 emphasized.
The learning activities enable students to acquire and assimilate knowledge of biblical prophetic literature, particularly through modern interpretative approaches, and to identify the importance of prophetic literature 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.
THBS303 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 foundational topics or concepts for the study of prophetic literature. 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 to identify appropriate exegetical methods and use these to critically analyse the meaning and significance of a biblical passage within its social, religious, and political contexts. The principal focus of this task is to allow students to display achievement of Learning Outcome 2.
Task 3 asks students research the reception of selected prophetic texts, topics, or concepts from a range of hermeneutical perspectives and in different contexts (for example, within the biblical canon or in the Jewish and Christian traditions more broadly). It requires students to identify the changing contexts of prophetic literature and to reflect on the significance of this for modern interpretation. In order to demonstrate the interconnected nature of biblical interpretation, students should be encouraged to draw on and integrate the research undertaken for tasks 1 and 2. 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 Tasks||Weighting||Learning Outcomes||Graduate Attributes|
Short introductory research task: Require students to identify and describe a key concept or aspect of prophetic literature (e.g. ‘prophetic call’, ‘the day of the LORD’, ‘woe oracle’, etc.).
Exegetical task: Require students to demonstrate their exegetical skills by analysing a selected biblical passage or passages with reference to its/their genre and historical context(s) and applying such skills to assist contemporary audiences to understand the Bible, taking into account differences in contexts and hermeneutical perspectives
GA1; GA4; GA5; GA8
Major research task: Require students to research an aspect of the reception of selected prophetic texts within a specified context(s) or from a specified hermeneutical perspective, and to evaluate the significance of this for the interpretation of those texts.
LO1, LO2, LO3
GA1; GA4; GA5; GA8
Representative texts and references
Boda, M. J. and J. G. McConville. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets. IVP Bible Dictionary Series, 4. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2012.
Brueggemann, W. The Prophetic Imagination. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001.
Day, J. ed. Prophecy and Prophets in Ancient Israel: Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar. New York: T & T Clark, 2010.
Leclerc, T. L. Introduction to the Prophets: Their Stories, Sayings and Scrolls. New York: Paulist Press, 2007.
Matthews, V. H. Social World of the Hebrew Prophets. 2nd ed. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2012.
Nissinen, M. Prophecy in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context: Mesopotamian, Biblical, and Arabian Perspectives. Symposium 13. Atlanta: SBL, 2000.
Nissinen, M. and P. Machinist. Prophets and Prophecy in the Ancient Near East. SBLWAW 12. Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2003)
Redditt, P. L. Introduction to the Prophets. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.
Stromberg, J. An Introduction to the Study of Isaiah. London: T & T Clark, 2011.
Seitz, C. A. Prophecy and Hermeneutics: Toward a New Introduction to the Prophets. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.