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BIBS112 Interpreting the Old Testament

2021 information for papers will be published in early September. 

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.

An introduction to the books of the Old Testament against the background of history and cultures of the ancient Near East. We will focus in detail on some key texts from the books of Genesis to Kings, learning the major methods of biblical scholarship as well as gaining an overview of the biblical story as a whole. This paper offers an insight into the foundational texts of two major world religions (Judaism and Christianity) 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 18 points
Teaching period(s) First Semester, First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $904.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,954.75

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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. All that is required is an inquiring mind and an interest in acquiring the critical skills common to all subjects 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 specific texts and to major issues in recent scholarship.

There are three forms of assessment:
  • Exegesis of one text from the Old Testament (20%)
  • Summaries of three readings (20%)
  • Three-hour final examination (open book) (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 the on campus course outline for BIBS 112
View the distance course outline for BIBS 112

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:

  • use The Jewish Study Bible intelligently to understand the Hebrew Bible in its geographical, historical, and cultural contexts
  • be familiar with the most important primary sources for understanding the Hebrew Bible in its ancient cultural context
  • be able to assess the cogency of scholarly arguments about the interpretation of biblical texts
  • have written an exegesis of one biblical text and summaries of three essays or articles written by modern scholars

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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
A1 Monday 10:00-10:50 9-13, 19-22
Tuesday 10:00-10:50 9-12, 18-22
Thursday 10:00-10:50 9-12, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A2 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 10, 12, 19