Bible as literature

Daily Syllabus

Recommended Text: Coogan, Michael D., ed. The New Oxford Annotated Bible. 3rd ed. Oxford, England: Oxford UP, 2001.

Course Objectives: English 221A is designed to introduce the student to The Hebrew Scripture (The Old Testament). This is not a course in religion or theology; it is a course in literature; as such, The Hebrew Scripture will be treated as a literary, not a sacred, text. I will not try to influence your belief, or lack thereof, in The Bible. Instead, I will try to teach you to read The Bible carefully and critically, using evidence from the text to support your own conclusions about the topics addressed in this very important work of literature. The goals of this course can be stated more specifically in the following Student Learning Outcomes:

Students describe the historical context in which the books of the Hebrew Scripture were written.

Students distinguish between the various genres and literary devices employed by the author(s) of the Hebrew Scripture.

Students recognize a variety of thematic issues as they are developed in different books of the Hebrew Scripture.

Students analyze specific passages and thematic issues in group discussions and analytic essays.

Course Requirements. Requirements include daily quizzes (various points), two exams (1000 points each), and a final paper (1000 points). Final grades are calculated as a percentage of the total points possible. Those students earning 90% or more of the total points possible will receive an "A"; those earning 80% to 89% of the total points possible will earn a "B"; 70% to 79%, a "C"; 60%-69%, a "D"; 59% or below, an "F."

Scholars Honors: This course is coordinated with the Scholars' Honors Program. If you wish to transfer to a UC campus, you will want to consider this program, for currently students in the program have a 92% acceptance rate to a University of California campus. For more information on the program, see the web site at, or call SHP Director Tim Juntilla at ext. 2828. Those students who want Honors credit should let me know at the beginning of the semester.

Course Policies: Below are five important rules for the class. They apply to everyone equally, whether you are an "A" student or an "F."

  1. There are no excused absences. If you are absent, you will not be allowed to make up any quizzes, homework, midterms, or final exams.
  2. If you miss five classes in a semester, I reserve the right to drop you from the course.
  3. If you are late for class, you will not be able to take the quiz.
  4. You must bring the current reading material to class. If you do not, I will not accept that day's quiz.
  5. If you are tardy on the day a paper is due, I will deduct 10 percent from the paper. If you miss class on the day a paper is due, but turn the paper in later in the day, I will deduct 25 percent. If you turn it in the day after it is due, I will deduct 50 percent. I will not accept a paper more than one day late.

Do You Falcon? On iFALCON and Bible as Literature Course:

Successful students consistently demonstrate a common set of skills and practices that earn them high grades and enable them to transfer to the schools and programs of their choice, including some of the best in the country. Identifying these skills isn't a mystery; students who practice the following six habits of mind regularly and with persistence are those who are most successful:

Focus: Successful students focus on the work to be done. They are academically self-disciplined, spending appropriate amounts of time studying. They come to class on time and prepared. They complete all assignments and turn them in on time. They finish their programs.

Advance: Successful students advance by always improving. They embrace lifelong learning. They understand that subject expertise requires a long-term commitment, and commit to ongoing development of thinking skills and learning skills.

Link Up: Successful students link up with the academic community. They get involved. They get to know their professors, study in groups, surrounding themselves with focused students and mentors. They use College resources and programs to help with their learning.

Comprehend: Successful students study for comprehension. They seek to understand course content rather than simply complete requirements. They ask questions to gain understanding, reflect on what they are learning as well as if they are learning.

Organize: Successful students are organized. They plan to succeed. They have an educational goal. They focus on their educational purposes, maintain a specific education plan, and choose classes with an intentional learning purpose in mind.

New Ideas: Successful students embrace new ideas. They are curious, seeking out new perspectives and skills. They transfer concepts to new contexts in order to solve problems. They integrate concepts and knowledge to form a greater personal understanding. So, the question "Do you falcon?" is really asking,

"Do you want to be successful?" If so, then consider how you can practice these six habits of mind on a daily basis. You may need to reorient your attitudes and try out some new approaches to learning. We'll discuss those habits and opportunities in this class during the semester.

Spend a few minutes each week on the iFALCON website to reorient yourself to those habits of mind and to discover new ideas and techniques for achieving success.

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