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Part IIA (second year)

Part IIA (second year)

Paper B1a - Intermediate Hebrew

Paper Coordinator: Dr Nathan MacDonald.

Assessment method: Examination

This paper is taken in the year after offering Elementary Hebrew (A1a), normally in Part IIA. But a student who took Elementary Hebrew in Part IIA would be able to offer B1a in Part IIB. The study of the texts from Deuteronomy, Judges, and Jonah is designed (apart from their intrinsic interest) to lead students on to a fuller appreciation of the syntax of prose texts (including the significance of word order and the less common uses of the tenses of the verb). Throughout the course lectures and private study are expected to be supplemented by fortnightly supervision work on translation from English into Hebrew, which will be tested in the examination. The lectures will focus mainly on linguistic aspects of the texts, but their theological and literary aspects will explored in two or three essays which students will write in the course of the year. By the end of the year students are expected (a) to have developed their understanding of Hebrew to an intermediate level, involving familiarity with the varied syntactical structures of prose texts; (b) to have acquired a knowledge of some major aspects of the content of at least two of the set texts.


Paper B1b - Intermediate New Testament Greek

Paper Coordinator: Professor Steve Walton.

Assessment method: Examination

The overall objective will be to introduce students to the language, syntax, exegesis and theology of Mark and Galatians on the basis of the Greek text. Students will acquire not only a more advanced knowledge of New Testament Greek and the basic skills of exegesis, but will also relate these to the identification and interpretation of key historical and theological issues in a gospel and an epistle.


Paper B1c - Intermediate Sanskrit

Please contact Dr Peter Harland for more information about this paper.

Assessment method: Examination


Paper B1d - Intermediate Qur'anic Arabic

Please contact Dr Tim Winter for more information about this paper.

Assessment method: Examination

This paper aims to build on the knowledge acquired by students who have taken Paper A1d of the Arabic grammatical features and vocabulary most commonly encountered in the Qur'an and other early Islamic religious literature. The paper contains passages for pointing, for translation, and for linguistic and exegetical comment from portions of the Qur'an, the Hadith, two Qur'anic commentaries, one hadith commentary, a hadith-narrators' biographical dictionary, a maghazi-sira work, and a dictionary of saints. Candidates are also required to translate a hadith passage from English into Arabic.


Paper B2 - Israel in Exile: Literature, History and Theology

Paper Coordinator: Dr Nathan MacDonald.

Assessment method: Examination

The exilic age has long been regarded in scholarship as a watershed for the faith of Israel, with important theological understandings formulated in this period. It is also a crucial time in the history of Israel and a time of the collection and writing of formative documents. This course seeks to give a thorough understanding of the literature, history and theology of the period leading up to the Exile, of the Exile itself and of the repercussions that followed it. It involves study of texts from different genres of Old Testament material, including some detailed textual work. It also involves engagement with scholarly methods of analysing literary texts, of evaluating historical claims with the assistance of archaeological finds and ancient Near Eastern parallels and of seeking an overall sense of the theological developments of the period.


Paper B4 - The letters of Paul

Paper Coordinator: Dr Simon Gathercole.

Assessment method: Examination

This course will consider the theological thought and practice of the apostle Paul, the finest mind among the early followers of Jesus. Paul's theological emphases have always been prominent in the Christian tradition. Aspects of his teaching provoked controversy in the early centuries - and still do today. Paul's own letters as well as letters traditionally considered to be 'Pauline' will be studied, including Ephesians, and the Pastorals. Special attention will be given to I Corinthians, the set text for this paper.


Paper B5 - The Johannine Tradition

Paper Coordinator: Professor Judith Lieu.

Assessment method: Examination

The paper will involve detailed investigation of main themes and issues involved in the study of the Gospel and Epistles of John. The main topics that will be dealt with will include: The distinctive character of the Johannine literature; the argument of the Epistles; sin and ethics in 1 John; Christology in 1 and 2 John; the interpretation of 3 John; the narrative shape of the Fourth Gospel; the person of Jesus; the death of Jesus; the Johannine view of past and present; Johannine dualism and eschatology; implied ecclesial structures; the Jews in the Fourth Gospel; John, the Synoptics and history; Johannine traditions outside the New Testament. Although students will be expected to be familiar with the Gospel and Epistles of John, specific chapters will be set for more detailed analysis.


Paper B6 - Christianity in Late Antiquity (to circa 600)

Paper Coordinator: Dr Mark Smith.

Assessment method: Examination

Many important features of Christianity emerged and developed in the antique period. The paper examines the development of Christian churches and groups, their organisation, institutions, identities and ways of life in the context of the political, social and cultural life of the Roman Empire. It studies main strands of Christian theological reflection and discussion the period, and introduces exemplary texts from what is often called the “Golden Age” of patristic literature.


Paper B7 - Themes in World Christianities: Context, Theology and Power

Paper Coordinator: Dr James Gardom.

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

This paper will be concerned with both the common themes and the diversity of contemporary Christianity in its global setting. Particular emphasis will be given to the contextual character of Christian theological reflection outside Europe and the USA since 1914 in relation both to indigenous cultures and to structures of global political and economic power.


Paper B8 - Great Theologians

Paper Coordinator: Professor Janet Soskice.

Assessment method: Examination

This paper contains questions on the Christian doctrines of God and humanity as illustrated by the writing of selected Christian theologians from the patristic period to the present day. Texts are prescribed. It also contains questions on theological method, and on the sources and norms of theology. The set texts are from Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Schleiermacher, and Barth. The examination questions will be on these set texts, and also on general questions of method relating, for instance, to the use of the Bible in theology, faith and reason, religious language and so on. Candidates are encouraged to bring together their reflections on the set texts with these method questions. This paper is designed to be a good introduction to Christian doctrine, both in its historical dimensions and in its contemporary vitality.


Paper B10 - Philosophy of religion: God, freedom and the soul

Paper Coordinator: Dr Geoff Dumbreck.

Assessment method: Examination

This paper is conceived as an introduction to Philosophical Theology in the narrow sense, i.e. theories about the nature of God, the cosmos and the soul. Is God one or many, personal and impersonal, transcendent or immanent, timeless or everlasting? How is creation of the cosmos to be thought of? Is the Soul the form of the body or a separate entity? Is God best perceived in nature or in the soul? Is freedom a coherent notion? Can we know God? How does God act? These very general and abstract questions have puzzled philosophers and theologians since Plato. The approaches to these topics tend to be either historical or very abstract. The idea of this paper is to combine the concern with the topics as real issues of contemporary interest with an awareness of how for example Plotinus or Spinoza, Kant or Hegel thought about these problems. The second section will enable candidates to answer at least one question of a more abstract nature. It is felt that candidates for this paper will have acquired a greater degree of philosophical confidence and a broader acquaintance with the philosophical canon to enable them to attempt essays of a more general or abstract philosophical nature.


Paper B11 - Ethics and faith

Paper Coordinator: Dr Catherine Pickstock.

Assessment method: Examination

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the main lines of the tradition of moral philosophy, through study of primary texts, including works by Plato, Aristotle, St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Montaigne, Hume, Kant, Lord Shaftesbury and Iris Murdoch. The central concern of the course will be to raise questions about the nature, form and justification of morality. What does morality require of us, and why? And what difference, if any, does religious belief make to the answers to be given to these questions?


Paper B13 -  Religious themes in literature

Paper Coordinator: Dr Scott Annett.

Assessment method: Two essays of 5,000 words each

This paper seeks to examine moral issues in novels from the literary traditions of Europe. A variety of moral problems will be explored, including such issues as: the analysis of moral agency and character; the role of conscience; coercion and exploitation; individual responsibility; the critique of societal structures; the role of women. The paper will also provide a basic introduction to the practical criticism of literary texts.


Paper B14 - Life, thought and worship of modern Judaism

Paper Coordinator: Dr Daniel Weiss.

Assessment method: Examination

This paper introduces students to contemporary Judaism and gives them some insight into the development of Modern Judaism by looking at the life and outlook of the Jewish communities both in Britain and worldwide. It will demonstrate how Judaism relates to surrounding cultures and especially how it has responded to the challenges of modernity. Basic questions about the study of any 'religious' community will be addressed and indeed students will be invited to consider whether the term 'religion' makes any sense at all when applied to the Jews. Although history will be provided to give the necessary background the focus throughout will be on the contemporary community. The study of primary texts aims to acquaint students with the self-understanding of Judaism at critical periods of its historical development.


Paper B15 - Introduction to Islam

Paper Coordinator: Dr Tim Winter.

Assessment method: Examination

In this introductory year students receive a thorough grounding in the individual and collective practices of Muslim communities, and in Islamic theology and mysticism. The course begins with guidance on how to approach the secondary literature, and the proposal of some reasons for the tradition's past and contemporary importance. It then adopts a primarily diachronic approach to the topics both in order to furnish students coming fresh to the religion with a readily intelligible framework, and to demonstrate the shared social, economic and other factors which contributed to the key transformations in the story of the faith community.


Paper B16 - Life and thought of religious Hinduism and of Buddhism

Paper Coordinator: Dr Ankur Barua.

Assessment method: Examination

The principal aim of the study of these Indian traditions is to form a sensitive understanding, in terms of context and historical perspective, of their main beliefs and practices. The approach is thematic and phenomenological, though when occasion demands, anthropological, sociological and political comments will also be made. It is not only important to show what Hinduism and Buddhism mean in the lives of their adherents, but also that as religious traditions they cannot be understood in a vacuum.


Paper B17 - Philosophy: Logic

The course is taught within the Faculty of Philosophy.

This course aims to introduce students to some basic issues in the philosophy of logic and language and to the idea of a formal logic. There is a complex interplay between these informal and formal elements of the course. The key notion is the idea of a valid argument (e.g. All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; so, Socrates is mortal). Arguments can be constructed in English and in the various formal languages which the logician invents, and formalised arguments are supposed to tell us something about the corresponding English arguments. Hence we need to know what an argument is: do arguments consist of sentences, statements or propositions? And we need to know what validity is and why it is significant: are all good arguments valid? are all valid arguments good? Validity of English arguments is an imprecise and intuitive notion, but validity of arguments framed in a formal language can be made precise.

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