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Faculty of Divinity


The information here is for the 2023-24 academic year. The papers on offer can vary from year to year.


Part I (first year)


Paper A1a - Elementary Hebrew

Paper Coordinator: Dr Kim Phillips

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

The Elementary Hebrew course falls into two parts, which together are intended to familiarise students with the basic grammatical forms (especially nouns and verbs) and vocabulary of Hebrew and to enable them to read and understand a straightforward prose narrative text from the Bible, with and without vocalisation. To improve their grasp of the language students are given exercises in translation from English into Hebrew, but the main emphasis falls on reading Hebrew text and translating it into English. During the Michaelmas and most of the Lent Term students study Hebrew grammar using the textbook by Thomas O. Lambdin, supplemented with material provided by the class teacher. In the last week or so of the Lent Term work is begun on the Genesis set text and this continues for the first four weeks of the Easter Term. In the Easter term supervision work is needed to practise the exercises that will be tested in the examination.


Paper A1b - Elementary New Testament Greek

Paper Coordinator: Dr Marieke Dhont

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

This course aims to equip students with a working knowledge of New Testament Greek. The Michaelmas term and part of the Lent term are spent studying basic grammar and vocabulary using Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook, through a combination of classwork and independent study. The focus of the classes then moves to reading the set text, presently a portion of the Gospel of John, and getting to grips with the grammar issues arising from real Greek (rather than textbook exercises). By the end of the course students will be capable of translating simple unseen passages and assessing the merits of different English versions of the set text.


Paper A1c - Elementary Sanskrit

Paper Coordinator: Professor Vincenzo Vergiani

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

Candidates will be required to translate three passages from the prescribed texts from Sanskrit into English, to answer questions on their grammar, style, and content, and to translate one unseen passage from Sanskrit to English.


Paper A1d - Elementary Qur'anic Arabic

Paper Coordinator: Dr Timothy Winter

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

This paper aims to test knowledge 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, and an Ash'ari theological text. Candidates are also required to translate passages from English into Arabic.


Paper A2 - David: Israel's Greatest Hero?

Paper Coordinator: Professor Nathan MacDonald

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

This paper will provide an introduction to the critical study of the Old Testament literature, history and religion, focussing on the figure of David. Texts for special study will be prescribed by the Faculty Board.


Paper A3 - Jesus and the Origins of the Gospels

Paper Coordinator: Dr James Carleton Paget

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

The paper will involve detailed investigation of main themes and issues involved in the study of the Gospels and the Historical Jesus. The main topics that will be dealt with are: Evidence for the Historical Jesus: Gospels and Other Sources, with Assessment of their Nature and Value and methods of study; the Context of First-Century Palestine; Jesus and John the Baptist; Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom; Miracles and Exorcism; Parables; Ethical Teaching; Jesus and the Jewish Law; Jesus and the Authorities; Jesus' Self-Understanding; Trial and Crucifixion; Resurrection.


Paper A4  - Christianity and the Transformation of Culture

Paper Coordinator: Dr Anna Lefteratou

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

This paper will introduce students to the history of Christianity by considering key periods and issues in the interaction of Christianity with the culture in which it is set. The topic of the paper will be announced annually by the Faculty Board. The topic in 2022-23 is Pagans and Christians in Late Antiquity: Dialogues, Debates, Violence, Conversions.


Paper A5 - The Question of God

Paper Coordinator: Dr Stephen Plant (Michaelmas Term); Professor David Fergusson (Lent and Easter Terms)

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

Theology is the discussion of God and all things as they relate to God. In this paper we will examine three topics within Christian theology: God, creation (as that which is not God, but from God) and evil (as that which neither God, nor from God). In doing so, we will cover many of the topics that underlie any discussion of theology, considering the sources upon which theology draws, for instance, how it uses them, and how human language can work in seeking to refer to one who transcends created reality. We will also consider some of the arguments proposed against religious belief, and ways in which theologians have shown a keen interest in other disciplines, such as literature and the natural sciences.


Paper A6 - Understanding Contemporary Religion

Paper Coordinator: Dr Safet HadžiMuhamedović

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

This paper will introduce students to the ways in which social scientists analyse and account for religion as a social force in the contemporary world, including the interactions of religious life with social, political, familial, national and global structures.his paper will introduce students to the ways in which social scientists analyse and account for religion as a social force in the contemporary world, including the interactions of religious life with social, political, familial, national and global structures.


Paper A7 - Studying World Religions: History, Comparison, Dialogue

Paper Coordinator: Dr Jörg Haustein 

Assessment method: Two essays of 3,000 words each

This paper offers a critical introduction into the comparative study of religions by examining how the worlds' major religious traditions came to encounter one another in the modern age. In their essays, students will engage with at least two major religions of their choice."


Paper A8 - Philosophy of Religion

Paper Coordinator: Professor Douglas Hedley

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

This course aims to introduce first year undergraduates to the major interconnected problems for language, knowledge and being which arise at the intersection between philosophy and theology, through a close study of canonical sources and themes.


Paper A9 - Ethics

Paper Coordinator: Dr James Orr

Assessment method: Three-hour examination

The paper will study questions concerning the nature and form of goodness and moral judgment in the Western intellectual tradition with special regard to the ways in which these topics relate to the nature and existence of God.