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THBS501 Biblical Studies or THBS562 Introducing the Scriptures

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

In order to adequately interpret the Christian Bible, it is necessary to engage with the literature of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. This literature reflects numerous genres (such as narrative, poetry, and law codes), each with its own life setting or Sitz im Leben. THBS601 is intended to introduce the canonical literature of the Hebrew Bible within its ancient Near Eastern context, paying particular attention to the way literary forms and genre contribute to the theological and religious messages of the biblical texts. 

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Identify and describe different genres of literature in the Hebrew Bible
LO2Situate the genres of the Hebrew Bible within their ancient Near East context
LO3Analyse representative examples of genres from across the Hebrew Bible using appropriate tools and methods of biblical criticism
LO4Assess of the implications of genre for biblical interpretation and exegesis


Topics will include:

  • Narratives
  • Law codes
  • Poetry
  • Wisdom literature
  • Proverbs
  • Prophetic literature
  • Apocalyptic 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 online 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 are also emphasised.

The learning activities enable students to acquire and assimilate knowledge of biblical literature 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. Building on the foundations laid in THBS501, students will be guided to develop the academic skills needed for biblical study. 

THBS601 emphasises students as active, adult learners. Students are recognised as adult learners who engage best when what they’re 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 situate the genres of the Hebrew Bible within their wider ancient Near Eastern context and to reflect on what is similar or distinctive about the biblical tradition. It requires students to compare and contrast examples of one or more genres from the Hebrew Bible (e.g. narrative, genealogy, law code, annals, poetry, wisdom literature, proverbs, apocalypse, etc.) with examples of corresponding genres from other Ancient Near Eastern cultures (e.g. Ugaritic, Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Hittite). The task allows students a relatively low-risk piece of assessment to test their interpretative skills as well as academic writing techniques. The principal focus of this task is to allow students to demonstrate achievement of Learning Outcomes 1 and 2.

Task 2 asks students to select and critically analyse examples of a biblical genre (e.g. narrative, poem, etc.), noting and evaluating the ways in which they conform to, or depart from, the expected conventions of the genre. Students should also evaluate how this knowledge contributes to an informed contemporary interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. The principal focus of this task is to allow students to demonstrate achievement of Learning Outcomes 3 and 4. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Comparative research task which will allow students to demonstrate achievement of LO1 and LO2.


LO1, LO2

Exegetical task which will allow students to demonstrate achievement of LO3 and LO4.


LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York: Basic Books, 2011.

––––––––––––. The Art of Biblical Poetry. New York: Basic Books, 1985.

Bar-Efrat, Shimeon. Narrative Art in the Bible. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. Supplement Series 70. Sheffield, England: Almond Press, 1989.

Buss, Martin J. Biblical Form Criticism in its Context. The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies; London, GB: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.

De Jong, Matthijs J. Isaiah among the Ancient Near Eastern Prophets: A Comparative Study of the Earliest Stages of the Isaiah Tradition and the Neo-Assyrian Prophecies. Vetus Testamentum, Supplements, 117; Boston: BRILL, 2007.

Hallo, W.W, and Younger, K.L. Context of Scripture: Canonical Compositions, Monumental Inscriptions and Archival Documents from the Biblical World. Leiden: BRILL, 2003.

Nissinen, Martti. Prophets and prophecy in the ancient Near East. Society for Biblical Literature, 2003.

Tucker, Gene M. Form Criticism of the Old Testament. Guides to Biblical Scholarship. Old Testament Series. Fortress Press, 1971.

Walton, John. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2006.

Watson, Wilfred G. E. Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to Its Techniques. T&T Clark Biblical Languages. London: T&T Clark International, 2005.

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