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ST. ATHANASIUS

A UNIQUE COLLECTION OF
SEVEN NEW ELECTIVES IN BIBLICAL STUDIES

UPCOMING START DATES

September 2023

Summary

The nine-month schedule is designed to equip students with foundational knowledge of the Bible and biblical interpretation. Through this foundation, our five electives prepares students for further study at seminary or graduate school, working in lay ministries of the Church, or simply working in the world as an Orthodox Christian. Once completed, the electives can be combined with other upper level courses from St. Athanasius for those interested in a bachelor degree.

The first course begins with broad questions concerning the Bible: What is Scripture, and how does it function in the Church? What is the Old Testament? What is the New Testament? It then moves to a survey of the Scriptures, from the book of Genesis through the Apocalypse of John. Along the way, we will also deal with various topical questions related to history, theology, and the use of the Scriptures in the Church.


What To Expect?

Throughout the courses, we will emphasize the three C’s of biblical interpretation: content, context, and commission.

  1. Content: A primary goal of this program is for students to simply understand the basic content of the Bible. This means understanding the basic story and/or message of individual books of the Bible, the ways certain books are grouped together within the biblical canon, and the overarching scriptural narrative from God’s creation of the world through the inauguration of the New Creation.

  2. Context: No text exists without a context. In fact, there are various contexts in which we can interpret any given text. We will explore numerous contexts (e.g. historical, literary, theological) which are important in understanding the Scriptures.

  3. Commission: Finally, we will ask how our reading of the Scriptures with the Church informs our work in the world, challenges our thinking, and inspires us as we seek to live the life in Christ.

Faculty

Be assured that every faculty member is fully qualified to guide students through the coursework.

Jordan Henderson, Department Head

Fr. Stephen De Young

Fr. Lawrence Farley

Fr. Calinic Berger

Course List


BIB 401 Introduction to the Bible in the Orthodox Church – This course introduces the student to the Bible, its place in the Orthodox Church, and different approaches to biblical interpretation. We begin with the question, What is the Bible? We discuss how the books now included in the Bible came to be collected and what it means for the Church to include them in a scriptural canon. We discuss the difference between the Old and New Testaments, as well as the various collections of books within the two Testaments, e.g. the Torah/Pentateuch, the Prophets, the Gospels, etc. We discuss the difference between the canon of the Old Testament used by Orthodox Christians (the Septuagint) and those used by Jews, Protestants, and Roman Catholics. We also cover some of the ways the Bible is used liturgically in the Orthodox Church and look at some of the problems (textual, historical, and theological) that arise in our interpretation of Scripture. As we consider these problems, we will survey various attempts by scholars to deal with them, as well as, when applicable, the Church’s understanding of these problems.
 
BIB 402 Law (pre-requisite: BIB 401) – This course will cover the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch or Torah. While this section of Scripture is commonly called the “Law,” much of these books consist of narrative. We will discuss this narrative from the creation of the world through the founding of the nation of Israel and God’s covenant with Abraham, all the way to Moses’ deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt and their being led to the Promised Land. We will also examine the laws delivered by God to Moses, which are found especially in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  
 
BIB 403 History and Prophets (pre-requisite: BIB 402)– This course will pick up the narrative of the nation of Israel where the last class left off, with Israel conquering the Promised Land. We will continue to examine this narrative from the settlement of the land through the period of judges, to the establishment, schism, and eventual collapse of the Israelite monarchy. We will then continue to follow Israel’s history through the Babylonian Exile and the nation’s return under Cyrus the Great, and conclude with the second Temple period. Along the way, we will also examine the writings of the prophets, both within the historical narrative of the Old Testament and Christologically, examining what they say concerning the coming Messiah.
 
BIB 404 Poetry (Wisdom Literature and Psalms) (pre-requisite: BIB 403) – In our final course on the Old Testament, will look closely at the group of writings commonly called “wisdom literature,” e.g. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Solomon, etc. We will closely examine some of these writings and discuss their proper use in the Church today. We will also examine the Psalter, giving attention to its structure, prominent themes, and use in ancient Israel, second Temple Judaism, and the early Church. We will conclude by examining the liturgical use of the Psalms in the Orthodox Church today.
 
BIB 405 Gospels (pre-requisite: BIB 404) – Our first course on the New Testament will explore the figure of Jesus Christ as He is depicted in each of the four canonical gospels. Each of the first four weeks will focus on the presentation of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John respectively. We will examine the image of Jesus which emerges when seen through the lenses of all four gospels. We will also focus on Christ as the hoped-for Messiah of the Old Testament. Finally, we will discuss the Church’s Christological understanding of Jesus and Trinitarian understanding of God, as defined in the Seven Ecumenical Councils, in light of our reading of the Gospels.
 
BIB 406 Acts and Letters of Paul (pre-requisite: BIB 405) – In this course, we will read Paul’s letters as we examine the Book of Acts. We will focus on the narrative of Acts, as it moves from Christ’s Ascension to Pentecost, then follows the early work of the Apostles before coming to focus especially on the work of Paul. As we examine the letters of Paul, we will pay special attention to their historical and cultural background, the theological controversies (e.g. circumcision of gentiles) that often led to them being written, and the problems of interpretation that arise as we interpret these letters today.
 
BIB 407 Hebrews, Catholic Epistles, and Revelation (pre-requisite: BIB 406) – Our final course will cover the Book of Hebrews, as well as the Catholic Epistles (James, 1-2 Peter, Jude, and 1-3 John). Our study of these documents will be both historical and theological. We will discuss the unique perspectives on important theological topics such as suffering and ministry to the poor which are focused on in these too often-neglected writings of the New Testament. We will finish by examining the genre, message, historical context, and patristic interpretation of the Book of Revelation.

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