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BIBS112 Interpreting the Old Testament

The interpretation of the Old Testament in its historical context, including an introduction to the overall biblical story, methods of interpreting the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy) and the historical Books (Joshua-2 Kings), and an in-depth exegesis of selected texts.

This paper is an introduction to the books of the Old Testament. We will study the biblical texts in the context of history and cultures of the ancient Near East and focus in detail on several key examples from the books of Genesis to Kings. This paper provides an insight into the foundational texts of two major world religions (and Western culture in general) and encourages students to develop skills in close reading and critical thinking, skills that will serve them well not only in their university career, but in the rest of their lives.

Paper title Interpreting the Old Testament
Paper code BIBS112
Subject Biblical Studies
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) First Semester, First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $851.85
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,585.00

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BIBX 112
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
All students are welcome to study the Bible regardless of whether they have a particular faith commitment or not. Papers in Theology examine the scriptures, history, content, and relevance of the Christian faith, but presuppose no Christian commitment from students. All that is required is an inquiring mind and an interest in those skills that can be gained through the study of any subject in the Humanities.
Teaching staff
Reverend Dr James Harding
Paper Structure
The paper is structured around the content of the biblical books from Genesis to Kings. We will work through the historical and cultural background of these books, their content and major themes, with reference to short blocks of text such as Genesis 34, and to major issues in scholarship, such as the historicity of the conquest narratives in Joshua.
There are three forms of assessment:
  • Summaries of three readings (20%)
  • Exegesis of one text from the Old Testament (20%)
  • Three-hour final examination (60%)
Teaching Arrangements
On-campus students: 39 1-hour lectures and five 1-hour tutorials

Distance students: six 2-hour videoconferences
Required: Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler (eds.), The Jewish Study Bible (2d ed.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

A course book also exists for this course.
Course outline
View BIBS112 course outline
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this paper, students will be able to:
  • Summarise the contents, major themes, and key problems of interpretation in the books from Genesis to Kings
  • Place these biblical texts in the historical context of the ancient Near East, up to and including the sixth century BCE
  • Understand and explain selected texts from the Old Testament

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First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 17-22
Tuesday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 18-22
Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-15, 17-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Wednesday 14:00-14:50 10, 12, 14, 17, 19
T2 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 10, 12, 14, 17, 19