H-105a. The Bible and Histories of Reading (22 hours) - Advance Reading List

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  • Preliminary Advices

    The selections from the bible are the passages on which we’ll be focusing. The second section below gives a sense of how “the bible” has most often been disseminated, whether liturgically or for devotional and pedagogical purposes, by taking scattered verses from the bible and other sources and gathering them together to form new texts. The single page of the Annunciation from the Biblia Pauperum (with the help of the translations) gives an excellent insight into how to read the bible typologically, and Charles Jennens’s libretto for Handel’s Messiah is a good example of how one Christian read the New Testament in the light of the Old. Thomas Cranmer’s attacks on Catholicism for its discontinuous reading practices and use of non-biblical sources nonetheless reveals his emphasis on the Book of Common Prayer as a necessary supplement to teach you how to read the bible. Joseph Mede’s diagram from The Key to Revelation (1643) gives one way in which the bible was read as a history of the  world and of its ending. The New England Primer reveals how most children in colonial America and the early Republic were taught to read the bible, beginning with a rhymed alphabet from which, among other things, three- and four-year old girls and boys were expected to know about death, adultery, voyeurism, and murder. The two pieces by the course’s instructors illustrate two very different approaches to the history of biblical reading practices. Finally, for a recent example of gathering together scattered passages from the bible and of biblical exegesis, see the clip from Pulp Fiction, and for a contemporary visual “reading” of Genesis, see the Brick Testament. 

    All readings will be provided to admitted students in advance of the course.

  • Advance Reading List

    Biblical Passages

    • Genesis 1-3
    • Genesis 41:38-46; Genesis 49:28-32; Genesis 50:24-26; Exodus 1:7-9; Exodus 13:18-19; Joshua 24:32 
    • Exodus 17:8-16 (the first scene of writing in the bible: remembering to forget), Exodus 20:1-26, Exodus 24:1-18, Exodus 31:1 to 34:35, Deuteronomy 5:1 to 6:25, Deuteronomy 9:1 to 10:22 
    • Psalms 1, 23, 51, 110, 137
    • Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 9:2-7, Isaiah 40:1-11; Isaiah 53:1-12
    • Matthew 1:18 to 3:17 and Luke 1:1 to 3:18*
    • John 1:1-42
    • II Corinthians 3:1-18
    • I John 5:1-12 (look up “Johannine Comma” in Wikipedia, which will probably give you more than you want to know!)

    * Genealogies are, for most of us, deeply boring, but they are of the greatest historical significance. The New Testament begins with a genealogy (Matthew 1:1-25) and there is another genealogy at Luke 3:21-38. Through whom is Christ’s genealogy traced (his mother or his “father”) and why is that a problem? Matthew’s genealogy, unusually, includes five women: Tamar (v. 3), Rahab (v. 5), Ruth (v. 5), “her that had bin the wife of Vrias” (v. 6), Mary (v. 16). Find out who they were (e.g. in Wikipedia). Why is it particularly surprising that these five women have a place in a Jewish genealogy?

    Scattering and Gathering

    Biblia Pauperum: the Annunciation (1 page)

    Thomas Cranmer, “Preface” to the Book of Common Prayer (2 pages)

    Book of Common Prayer (1549): read “The Table and Kalendar” and follow the readings for June in the calendar daily up to the beginning of the course: http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1549/Kalendar_1549.htm

    Book of Common Prayer (1559), first two pages of “Morning Prayer”:
    http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1559/MP_1559.pdf. You can download this as a pdf

    Joseph Mede, “Key to the Revelation” (3 images)

    Charles Jennens, libretto for Handel’s Messiah (7 pages)

    The New England Primer (1812 edition), pp. 12-15

    The Brick Testament

    Pulp Fiction, notes and last scene in the restaurant (scattering and gathering from the bible and biblical exegesis):

    Peter Stallybrass, “The Materiality of Reading”
    Lynne Farrington, “A  Very Good Book Indeed”