The MA in The Reception of The Bible: Theology/Tradition/ Culture is a taught Masters programme covering one year (full time) or two years (part time).
In the Department of Theology and Religious Studies we have 6 full-time members of staff involved with the MA (Jonathan Campbell, Jo Carruthers, Oliver Crisp, Gavin D’Costa, John Lyons, Carolyn Muessig). In addition to the strong Department-based support, the MA will draw on staff from within the Faculty of Arts.
The MA builds upon the various strengths found in the Department. From 1992-1999 we had an MA in Contemporary Theologies and an MA in Religion and Gender. From 2001—2006 we had an MA in Christian Studies (re-named the MA in Christianity and Culture in 2004). The MA in The Reception of The Bible has enabled the Department to consolidate its energies and specialties into a unified whole which works toward the same aims and objectives while offering a variety of subject areas.
Aims and Objectives
This programme aims to develop the students’ interest in and knowledge and understanding of how the Bible has been compiled, received and transmitted throughout its history (i.e., Biblical Reception). In the core units, special emphasis will be placed on historical, theological, philosophical, critical, reception and cultural theories which highlight the relation between text and context. Trained in these skills of theoretical analysis students will then take optional units in which they can explore the use of the Bible in distinctive contexts which include: biblical origins of Christian/Western hostility to the Jews; modes of scriptural reception in Jewish, Christian and Islamic communities; medieval understanding and use of biblical authority; the interaction between Bible and literature; modern theology and the Bible; and modern philosophical theories and their application and relation to biblical studies.
More specifically this programme aims:
1) To provide students with a substantial understanding of how the Bible has been used/received in a variety of settings with emphasis on developing proficiency in critical theory.
2) To introduce students to primary material.
3) To teach how various methodologies and theories can be applied to the understanding of biblical culture.
4) To develop the student's ability to think critically and independently.
The degree structure is designed to engage students in a cumulative process of developing skills and knowledge through a sequence of complementary stages. In TB1, the student develops research skills: “The History of Christianity: Texts” introduces students to primary sources which deepen one’s understanding of biblical culture, tradition and theology; “Reception: Readers, Viewers, Audience” will familiarize students with a variety of theoretical perspectives which will help them understand the processes which produce historically and culturally situated readings and readings practices and in turn how to apply this to understanding Biblical Reception. To deepen this introduction to methodology, students are also required to study “Introduction to Critical Theory” offered by the Arts Faculty in TB1 and TB2. In TB2 students explore specific subject areas through a combination of options taught by members of staff. The options enable students to extend and apply the range of skills and concepts introduced in the mandatory units. The dissertation serves as the culmination of the student's progress through the degree programme. The programme is designed to provide a solid background in Biblical Reception and theoretical analysis for students planning to go on to do research in Theology and Religious Studies and other relevant fields (e.g. English, History, Cultural Studies) as well as to be of interest for people who wish to devote a year to learning in depth about Biblical Reception.
1) Core 60 Credits (Teaching Block 1&2)
The History of Christianity : Texts (TB1) 20 Credits
Reception: Readers, Viewers, Audiences (TB1) 20 Credits
Introduction to Critical Theory 1 [AFAC 70004] (TB1) 10 Credits
Introduction to Critical Theory 2 [AFAC 70005] (TB2) 10 Credits
2) Options (Teaching Block 1&2)
Students take a combination of seminar courses in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and in the Faculty of Arts.
Normally students will take all options in TB2. NB: Not all the options listed below will be available every year. Students may also have the opportunity of taking relevant language units.
Biblical Hermeneutics and the Dogmatic Status of Scripture in Modern Theology (TB2)* 20 Credits
The Bible and the Myth of Jewish Evil (TB2)* 20 Credits
The Bible and Zion (TB2)* 20 Credits
Philosophical Issues in the Rise of Historical Biblical Criticism (TB2)* 20 Credits
The Reception of the Bible in the Middle Ages (TB2)* 20 Credits
The Reception of Scripture in the First Millennium CE (TB2)* 20 Credits
Reformation, the Bible and Renaissance Literature (TB2)* 20 Credits
Rewriting the Bible (TB2)* 20 Credits
The Bible in the Contemporary World: Hermeneutics (Trinity College) 20 Credits
Newman and the English Theological Tradition (Wesley College) 20 Credits
3) Dissertation of 15,000–20,000 words (60 credit points)
Assessment and Student Progress
Assessment of the above-mentioned learning outcomes is by means of the following:
History of Christianity: Texts: 4000-word essay.
Reception: Readers, Viewers, Audiences: a 4000-word essay.
Introduction to Critical Theory 1: one 2000-word essay.
Introduction to Critical Theory 2: one 2000-word essay.
Each option in Teaching Block 2 will be assessed by means of one essay, 4000 words in length in the case of 20 credit-point units, and 2000 words in the case of 10 credit-point units.
The dissertation will be of 15-20000 words, excluding notes and bibliography; the minimum/maximum band is intended to accommodate the variation in disciplinary methodologies and source types utilized by different students. The pass/fail threshold for all units will be set at 50% (or the standard level to be established by the Faculty of Arts, if different).
The criteria for the award of credit points are as follows:
1. Satisfactory attendance at seminars (normally 100%).
2. Submission of the assessed essay by the specified deadline.
3. In the case of the language units completion of an exam and a passing grade of 50%
We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the MA programme by letter or email, or to meet you to discuss your own possible progression on to our MA.
Staff Associated with the MA
Dr Jonathan Campbell
, Deciphering the Dead Sea Scrolls, 2nd edition; Blackwells, 2002;
Dr Jo Carruthers
, The Strange and Difficult Book of Esther, forthcoming;
Dr Oliver Crisp
, Jonathan Edwards and the Metaphysics of Sin, Ashgate, 2005;
Professor Gavin D'Costa
, The Meeting of Religions and the Trinity, Orbis, 2000;
Dr John Lyons
, Canon and Praxis: The Canonical Approach and the Sodom Narrative, Sheffield Academic Press, 2002;
Dr Carolyn Muessig
, The Faces of Women in the Sermons of Jacques de Vitry, Peregrina Publishing Co, Toronto, 1999.