Reflection on Scripture as Written

Every people has 'texts' (whether oral or written, fixed or fluid, standard or non-standard) that its generations pass along in the process of living their common tradition. In Israel's life this commonality evolved in a distinctive direction, without any direct divine mandate. A collection of writings was kept in the Temple that came to be called 'scripture'. Its roles in both first-century Israel and the apostolic church testify to its profound influence among Jews, and then among Christians.

Leithart's Deep Exegesis calls our sustained attention to the textual quality of the biblical writings. This could seem so obvious that it needs no attention; yet paying attention to scripture's literality turns out to have far-reaching implications on how we interpret it. Your assignment is to explore those implications and test Leithart's proposals by scrutinizing one book of the Bible.

Choose one of the following biblical books: Deuteronomy, Judges, Proverbs, Hebrews, or Revelation. These works textualize instruction, history, wisdom, exhortation, and apocalyptic prophecy respectively. Of what significance is the book's writtenness to (a) what it means; (b) its effects among the generations who read it; (c) their (i.e., our) responsibilities; and (d) other writings among the scriptures? You must draw on Leithart to develop these points, but your own answers may test or disagree with him. Feel free to draw on secondary sources, for instance a textbook from an RS survey or history course.

If it will help concretize your points, you may concentrate on a representative passage in your book, as Leithart concentrates on John 9.

If you would like to use a 'foil' to help contrast your answer with some other opinion (as Leithart often does), you may. If you do, you may then write your answer as a dialogue or any other format of your choosing.

As you know, this is a writing intensive course. Please keep your paper 4 pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my suggestions for writing papers. Before you turn it in on the day it's due, print out two copies of my peer review form to attach to it, and read the instructions on how the peer review process works.

Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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