Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ENG 275
Course Title:
The Bible as Literature
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Explores the Bible as a literary text by discussing authorship, translation, literary forms, history, and cultural context. Discusses the Bible as a point of reference for literature as well as for other works of art. Prerequisites: WR 115 and RD 115 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

The Bible as Literature examines the way stories, characters, and idioms of the Bible become allusions and metaphors in contemporary western literature and culture. ENG 275 applies the techniques and language of literary criticism to Biblical text. The course work may include the examination of a variety of translations of the Bible and the process of canonization. The course may examine not only books from the traditional canons but also from texts not typically included in the canon such as the Apocrypha and Gnostic texts.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completing this course, students should be able to€¦
1. Read the Bible with an understanding of its literary forms and conventions as well as its relationship to history and culture.
2. Apply concepts of literary criticism (e.g., typology, archetype, parallelism, chiastic structure) to a variety of writings including the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Apocryphal books.
3. Recognize the Bible€™s lasting influence on other works of literature, art, music, and popular culture.
4. Discuss and show familiarity with selected Bible texts as well as secondary biblical scholarship.
5. Analyze a variety of English translations to understand the effects of translation from the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) on the meaning and interpretation of texts.
6. Write coherent and compelling essays that begin to explore the complex questions pertaining to the Bible.

Course Activities and Design

The course may use lecture/discussion format, small groups, individual/group presentations, guest speakers, film. Since it may not be practical to read the entire Bible (including Apocrypha) in a ten-week course, decisions about which books of the Bible to include may be made with an eye to history, culture, philosophy, or literary impact.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Students may be asked to demonstrate their achievement of the course outcomes by writing critical essays, taking quizzes and examinations, making individual or group presentations

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • point of view
  • tone/voice
  • narrative style
  • characterization
  • symbolism
  • imagery
  • ambiguity
  • irony
  • allusion
  • gender
  • translation
  • form/structure
  • historical context
  • multiple authorship
  • redaction
  • canon creation
  • syncretism

Competencies and Skills

  • close reading of Biblical and critical texts
  • understanding Biblical literature through social, political, artistic,
  • historical contexts
  • identification of characteristics of authorship
  • recognition of the basic characters and seminal stories of Biblical literature
  • application of literary and social criticism to Biblical literature
  • documentation of Biblical literature