You are here

C LIT 251 A: Introduction To Comparative Literature: Themes

The Bible as Literature

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
Location: 
SMI 309
SLN: 
11804
Instructor:
Douglas Collins

Syllabus Description:

The Bible as Literature

“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it,” we read in Deut. 4:2. What authorizes Bob Dylan, then, to outrageously re-do the Genesis episode of a family-on-family murder, the suggestion that a child be provided as burnt offering? In "Highway 61 Revisited" Dylan darkens a story already disturbing enough:

"God said to Abraham, 'Kill me a son.'
"Abe said, 'Man, you must be puttin' me on.'
"God said, 'No.' Abe said, 'What!'
"God said, 'You can do what you want, Abe, but the next time you see me comin', you better run.'

All that remains in this version is a sadism with which the story appears to begin but does not end, a story in which God seems to pacifically resolve a problem that he had cruelly posed through the strategy of animal substitution, the becoming impersonal of negativity, that displacement of it that is the condition of civilization itself, condition of representation, of the esthetic, etc... What gives Dylan license to torture the Biblical passage? What does it mean that the tradition emerging from these texts can seem to at once encourage critique of manipulated, manipulating representations (See the Second Commandment) as well as allow space within which there is possible playful or critical distortions, interpretations taking the form of speculative re-imaginings of its stories? That mockery does not exclude affection is the lesson of representation itself that appears to be sometimes allowed and sometimes not. The silences, gaps, inconsistencies, and obscurities of the texts are the condition of and justification for a class on “The Bible as Literature.”

Additional Details:

“You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it,” we read in Deut. 4:2. What authorizes Bob Dylan, then, to outrageously re-do the Genesis episode of a family-on-family murder, the suggestion that a child be provided as burnt offering? In "Highway 61 Revisited" Dylan darkens a story already disturbing enough:

"God said to Abraham, 'Kill me a son.'
"Abe said, 'Man, you must be puttin' me on.'
"God said, 'No.' Abe said, 'What!'
"God said, 'You can do what you want, Abe, but the next time you see me comin', you better run.'

All that remains in this version is a sadism with which the story appears to begin but does not end, a story in which God seems to pacifically resolve a problem that he had cruelly posed through the strategy of animal substitution, the becoming impersonal of negativity, that displacement of it that is the condition of civilization itself, condition of representation, of the esthetic, etc... What gives Dylan license to torture the Biblical passage? What does it mean that the tradition emerging from these texts can seem to at once encourage critique of manipulated, manipulating representations (See the Second Commandment) as well as allow space within which there is possible playful or critical distortions, interpretations taking the form of speculative re-imaginings of its stories? That mockery does not exclude affection is the lesson of representation itself that appears to be sometimes allowed and sometimes not. The silences, gaps, inconsistencies, and obscurities of the texts are the condition of and justification for a class on “The Bible as Literature.”

Catalog Description: 
Reading and analyzing literature based upon rotating themes such as love, sex, and murder, haunted houses, and dreams and memory. Selections drawn from European, English, and American literature, not limited to period and genre.
Department Requirements Met: 
Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:12pm
Share