Retro Readings: Bible

sidelong view of ancient Bible

WEDNESDAYS, 5-6:15 p.m., FALL 2018
GEAR 243

Students: here is the link to the Retro Readings Application form.  The deadline to apply is midnight Wednesday, March 28, 2018.  

In many ways, the Bible is the ultimate “retro reading.” The Bible is a text of great antiquity and authority, lending its historical weight to a number of contemporary world religions. Equally, the Bible is a book of great controversy, prompting endless academic debate over its origins and historical meaning. This course centers on this magisterial—yet frequently misunderstood—corpus of sacred scripture. 

During the first half of the semester, students will grapple with complete books of the Bible, selections from Genesis to Revelation. In a seminar-discussion format, twelve honors scholars will engage in the art of textual criticism at an intense, historical level.  

In the second half, students will interrogate several biblical afterlives, including the ways in which scripture became a global artifact exchanged across millennia. They will also scrutinize various incarnations of scripture, from the Jefferson Bible (1804) to the new Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., a kind of “cabinet of curiosities” for biblical history and archaeology. The built environment of the Nation’s Capital itself offers an intriguing coupling of Biblical and Enlightenment-era principles.

 What's in it for you:

  • Learn to analyze Biblical texts from a variety of perspectives and with a variety of goals in mind
  • Compare multiple versions and adaptations of the scriptures, and locate them within history and culture
  • Participate in an optional fall-break field trip (Oct. 12-16) to Washington, D.C., where you will visit the new museum dedicated to the holy book

What's expected of you:

  • Active engagement and participation in class discussion
  • An open-minded approach to the history of biblical texts

About Lynda Coon:

 Honors College Dean Lynda Coon has launched a series of innovative honors courses since joining the history faculty in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences in 1990. She helped to create the Honors Humanities Project (H2P) and as dean she has developed Signature SeminarsForumsRetro Readings courses and the Honors Passport study abroad experience. Coon’s research focuses on the history of Christianity from circa 300-900. Her first book, Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity, explored the sacred biographies of holy women in late antiquity. Her second book, Dark Age Bodies: Gender and Monastic Practice in the Early Medieval West, focused on the ritual, spatial and gendered worlds of monks in the Carolingian period (ca. 750-987). She is currently researching a book on imagining Jesus in the Dark Ages.