The Word II:
The New Testament
This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the Bible and its monumental influence on culture, history, literature, music, and the visual arts. Examples include the literary debt Shakespeare owes to the Bible as well as the debt of more contemporary dramatist and novelists. The course covers the basic narrative arc of the entire Bible to highlight many visual, literary, and musical examples of what a source of inspiration and influence the Bible was and is, focusing on the richness of biblical allusions in written works as well as musical and visual compositions. A basic knowledge of the characters, themes, and motifs of the Bible is important for understanding Western literature. Our study will include significant documents, cultural movements, public discourse, and the influence the Bible has had on political leaders, reformers, and the like. The course also shows how the biblical narrative, characters, and interpretations were a shared cultural and historical frame of reference for governments and citizenry from biblical times through the Reformation and up to today. It also explores how the language and concepts of the Bible provided content for thinkers and artists. The first semester will focus on the Old Testament, and the second semester will focus on the New Testament. The course also demonstrates the continuing influence of other sacred texts such as the Torah and the Qur’an on popular culture.