The Bible as Literature
and in Literature and the Arts

Caravaggio: The Sacrifice of Isaac [Genesis 22]

Section 01: MWF 12:10-1:20 Bldg. 10-225
Instructor: Steven Marx


Faculty Office Building 47-25E, 756-2411
Office hours: MWF: 1:30-2:30 P.M. and by appointment

Fall 2004 Schedule

Week Date Topic

Primary Reading Due

Companion Reading Other Assignments Due Report Topics and Materials Lecture Notes and Resources
I 9/20 Introduction: The Book of Ruth

NSRV translators' preface

Introduction to Reading the Old Testament (RTOT)



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Biblical texts and search engines

Paradigm for Literary Analysis

Women's Early Art--Ruth



Hebrew Bible: HISTORY

Genesis, generations, genealogy

Genesis 1-11

Historical Overview of Old Testament Period

Prologue to the Torah

RTOT, chapter 1


report preferences  

Images of God and Man in the Sistine Chapel

Notes on Genesis

  9/24 The Chosen Clan: Abraham Genesis 12-22

RTOT chapter 2 part 1


report preferences

possible topics for paper #1

Soren Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Essay)

Bob Dylan: Highway 61 revisted (song)

Sacrifice of Isaac: Caravaggio and Rembrandt(Paintings)Scott Morrison

Notes on Abraham

II 9/27 Family Matters: Isaac and Jacob Genesis 23-36 RTOT chapter 2 part 2 Paper #1

Anita Diamant: The Red Tent(novel)Laura Oates

Frederick Buechner: Son of Laughter(novel)

Notes on Genesis


  9/29 Sibling Rivalry: Joseph and his Band of Brothers Genesis 37-50

RTOT, chapter 2, part 3


Quiz #1

Joseph and his Technicolor Dream Coat(musical) John Tsui

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife (painting)Kristine Ray

"Prosperity and Posterity: Genesis and The Tempest"
  10/1 Deliverance of the Tribes Exodus 1-19 RTOT, chapter 3, part 1  

Exodus by Leon Uris (novel) (film)

III 10/04 Nation Building in the Wilderness

Exodus 20-40

Numbers 1-2, 9-14, 16-17, 20- 21, 31-32

RTOT, chapter 3, part 2


  The Ten Commandments (film)Paul McGowan Notes on Exodus
  10/06 The Promised Land: Exploration and Conquest

Deuteronomy 30-31,34

Joshua 1-6


RTOT, Chapter 6, part 1

Quiz #2

"Go Down Moses" and "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho"(African American Spirituals)Marci Palla [Music and Commentary]

Joseph te Velde

Notes on Numbers

Moses and Machiavellism

  10/8 Self-rule and its problems Judges 1-2, 11, 13-16,19-21 RTOT on Samson  

Samson and Delilah (film)

John Milton: Samson Agonistes (poetic drama)

IV 10/11 The Origins of the Monarchy I Samuel

RTOT Chapter 8 Part 1 and 2


Paper #2

Michaelangelo's David Katie Davis

Caravaggio: David and Goliath version 1, version 2. version 3Kelly Enrico

Rembrandt: David and Saul and David and JonathanRex Lanier

King David (film)Robert Becker


Notes on Samuel I and II

  10/13 The House of David II Samuel RTOT, Chapter 8, part 3 midterm exam study guide

David and Bathsheba (film)Andrew Descary

Amnon and Tamar(painting)Jonathan Senigaglia

Steven Vincent Benet: "King David" (poem)Hilary Berg

Joseph Heller: God Knows (novel)



  10/15 The House of David II Samuel (continued)      


V 10/18 Solomon and his followers I Kings 1-11,16-19, 21-22; II Kings 22-5
RTOT, Chapter 9, parts 1, 3c and 4 Quiz #3 Huckleberry Finn Chapter 14 [On Solomon]Kris Monte


  10/20       Midterm exam  






Psalms 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 19, 22, 23, 24, 42, 46, 51, 110, 130, 137, 148, 150

RTOT Part 3 Introduction and Section 1--Biblical Poetry

RTOT Chapter 14


Holy Sonnets by John Donne

Psalms translated into Metrical verse by Mary Sidney ~1590

VI 10/25 Poetry attributed to Solomon: Ecstasy and Despair

The Song of Songs


RTOT Chapter 16 Parts 1 and 4

RTOT Part 3 Section 2--Wisdom Literature


"Let Him Kiss Me with the Kisses of his Mouth," Edward Taylor (Puritan poem)

"The Vanity of All Worldly Things," Anne Bradstreet (Puritan Poem) Jeff Comer

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (novel)Aaron Wordley


  10/27 Poetry attributed to Solomon: The Middle Way Proverbs 1, 5, 7, 10, 22:17 -29, 31:10-31 RTOT Chapter 15--Proverbs and Job   William Blake, "Proverbs of Hell" (poetic satire, part of "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell")Robert Beighley  
  10/29 Job Job 1-31 RTOT Chapter 15--Proverbs and Job





VII 11/1 Job Job 38-43   Quiz #4

Blake's Illustrations of JobClinton Willey

Archibald Macleish, J.B (1950's Broadway play)Scott

'Within a Foot of the Extreme Verge': The Book of Job and King Lear
  11/3 Hebrew Bible: PROPHETIC BOOKS Amos 1-3,6-7; Isaiah 1-6,9,11; Jeremiah 1-3, 31

RTOT Introduction to Prophets

RTOT First Isaiah

RTOT Jeremiah


Michelangelo's Portraits of the Prophets on the Sistine Ceiling

  11/5 Prophets(2) Ezekiel 1-4, 34, 37:1-14, 40:1-10; Isaiah 40-44, 47, 49, 52-55; 65-66

RTOT Ezekiel

RTOT Second and Third Isaiah

  Handel, The Messiah, Part I  



New Testament: GOSPEL

The Return of the King

Matthew 1-13

Brief History of the New Testament

Introduction to Matthew(NAB)

Introduction to Matthew (Blue Letter Bible)

possible topics for Paper#3



  11/10 Passion and Resurrection Matthew 14-28  




Gruenwald crucifixion

Gruenwald resurrection

reading notes for Matthew

  11/12 Gospel Variants(1)

Luke 1-2, 17: 11-19, 18:1-14, 23-24

Introduction to Luke(Blue Letter Bible)

Introduction to Luke (New American Bible)


Quiz 5

Creative project assignment





IX 11/15 Gospel Variants(2) John 1-5, 11-12, 17-20

Introduction to John(Blue Letter Bible)

Introduction to John (New American Bible)



  11/17 The Gospel Story in Painting, Music and Film(1)    

Paper#3 due

Final Exam preparation

Paintings by Raphael and Rembrandt Dora Mountain

J.S. Bach, Christmas Oratorio(midi) (commentary)Reuben Westmoreland

Jesus Christ Superstar (film) 1973 version 2000 versionAaron Stearrett

Jesus of Montreal (film)James Paasche


  11/19 The Gospel Story in Painting, Music and Film(2)     Creative Project Proposal due

Jesus of Nazareth (film)
James Irons

Monty Python, Life of Brian (film)Garet Zook

The Passion of the Christ (film)Jessica Uhlenoff

J.S. Bach, The Saint Matthew Passion(oratorio)

X 11/22

New Testament: HISTORY

The Early Church

Acts 1-28

Introduction to Acts(Blue Letter Bible)

Introduction to Acts (New American Bible)

  Paintings by Caravaggio Jessica Van Dyke  
  11/24 holiday          
  11/26 holiday          
XI 11/29

New Testament: EPISTLES

Paul's Letters

Romans 1-6, 9-11; 1Corinthians 5-7, 10, 12-14; 2Corinthians 10-13     The Last Temptation of Christ Kayla Muldur  
  12/1 New Testament: APOCALYPSE Revelation Introduction to Revelation (New American Bible)  

The War in Heaven in Milton's Paradise Lost Danny Lord

Michelangelo: The Last JudgementAndy Zonnenfeld

Albrecht Durer: The Book of Revelation Peggy Ramey-Renk

reading notes for Revelation

"The Masque of Revelation," Steven Marx

  12/3 Creative Project presentation      Paper#5 Creative Project    

12/7 [10:10-11:30]

Final Exam          

Texts and Resources

Primary text:

No specific version of the Bible is prescribed. Select your own favorite. I'll be using the Oxford Study Bible to read and for footnotes. The course syllabus has links to ECanon, which allows alternate versions of any passage.

Companion texts:

We'll have the privilege of using the free online version of an excellent textbook, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, by Barry Bandstra. For the New Testament classes, we'll be using parallel Introductions provided by Catholic and Protestant authorities.

Web links on syllabus:

Some of these links to works of art and literature inspired by the Bible can enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the primary text. They provide the basis for student reports.

Supplementary web and library resources

This small selection of the vast array of books, journals, and websites on Biblical subjects is for those who want to explore further.

Dr. Marx’s Special Formula for improved grades on English papers

Workload and Grading


Five Scantron quizzes, ten questions each.

Papers and projects=50%

Students produce five papers. Each paper fills one word-processed page, appears attractive, is free of spelling and grammatical errors, and develops a single major point. Papers can refer to but not repeat material raised in class. Each paper focuses on a different reading.

Papers take a variety of approaches, e.g.: discussion of a narrative pattern, explication of the rhetorical design of a single passage, exploration of a strand of images or recurrent theme, discussion of a character or a change in character or a relationship, study of an intense dramatic moment, argument in attack or defense of a character or a moral judgment by a character, comparison of an element in two or more readings, research on a relevant historical item, examination of a moral or philosophical issue raised in the text.

One of the five papers is presented to the class and treats a later version or variation of a biblical text and its relation to the original. More details on Report Schedule.

The final submission, a creative project presented on the last day of class, has a non-expository format but expresses or implies critical insight into a Biblical text, e.g.: a supplemental scene or speech, a parody, or modernized version, a dramatization on video or performed live; a drawing, painting or sculpture, song, poem, costume piece, prop or other construction. Students write a one page description relationg their projects to the Biblical text which inspired them. More details on Project Proposal.


Both Midterm and Final are one hour essay exams. The midterm counts 10%; the final counts 15%. Each can fulfill the Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR).


Late papers are penalized one full grade for each class session's delay unless a postponement is granted by the instructor in advance.

Three unexcused absences lower the grade by one half letter; seven unexcused absences result in no credit. Three unexcused latenesses count for one absence. Absences can be excused with written medical or other certification.

Plagiarism or other forms of cheating result in a failing grade and referral to the dean. Students are responsible for understanding the definition of plagiarism, which is provided here.

Behavior to avoid: arriving late or leaving early; having cell phones going off; packing up disruptively before the class is dismissed; eating in class; sleeping in class; reading newspapers; chatting with neighbors.