HE222-The Bible and Literature
Spring Semester, AY2011


Primary Texts

Bible (New Revised Standard, Revised Standard, New Jerusalem)
The Red Tent
The Son of Laughter


"Down and Out and Dirty"

This working title for the course tries to capture what will be our focus on something other than a "happy face" sense of Biblical stories, their combination of sparse description and raw, material, bodily details and violence; their concern with borders, laws, and customs and an equally strong fascination with breakers of borders, laws and customs; their emphasis on community and a simultaneous privileging of alienation; and their always unsuccessful attempt to place the placeless force that rules their pages and the events depicted thereon.


P   O   S   T   I   N   G   S


1.  Course Rules and Guidelines (click)

2.  Paper Assignments (click)

3.  Art Links (click)

4.  Display of Mixture in Genesis of "J" "E" "P" Traditions (click)








WK 1

Jan 11

Introduction to Course

Procedures and goals; creation


Jan 12

Genesis 1-10; Babylonian version (click)--read Tablets 4 & 6

"Nothing Gold Can Stay" (click);  "Never Again . . ." (click)

Motifs & images; analogue; creation and destruction


Jan 14

Gilgamesh (click)

More flooding; review (Documentary hypothesis--click  here for discussion)

WK 2

Jan 17



  Jan 19 Genesis 11-24; "Lot's Wife"(click); "Abraham to kill him"(click); "The Parable of the Old Man and the Young" (click) Etiologies, theophanies, birth narratives


Jan 21

Genesis 25-36; "A Little East of Jordan" (click)

Type scenes; trickster

WK 3

Jan 24

Genesis 37-50

Bildungsroman, digressions and meaning


Jan 26


Narrative technique (Bible vs. Homer); review; list motifs/patterns


Jan 28

The Red Tent, Part 1

Birth; "wives' tales"; the tent vs. other; midrash (Quiz)

WK 4

Jan 31

The Red Tent, Part 2

OT violence and subjectivity


Feb  2

The Red Tent, Part 3

Destiny; "the big picture" (Quiz)


Feb  4


Review; Biblical narrative style revisited

WK 5

Feb  7

Son of Laughter, 3-95

Narrative moves; god(s) vs. god (Quiz)


Feb  9

Son of Laughter, 96-193

"So hopeless and so important"; Esau and the body


Feb 11

Son of Laughter, 195-end

Dreams and "the Fear"; flight imagery (Quiz)

WK 6

Feb 14

Exodus 1-20

Genesis conventions in Exodus; Inscriptions of/by Yahweh; landscape

Paper Due

Feb 16

Open (click for paper assignments)

In class editing (click)


Feb 18

Exodus 24-25; 32-34; and Deut. 5

Ten Commandments--more inscription

WK 7

Feb 21




Feb 23

1 Samuel 8-31

Theocracy, monarchy, Saul's tragedy (Quiz)


Feb 25

2 Samuel 1-22 ("My Papa's Waltz"--allusion to D. dancing ? click)

Davidian "politics"; David compared to Genesis heroes

WK 8

Feb 28

1 Kings 3-11; 2 Chronicles 1-9 

Yeats' "Solomon to Sheba" (click)

End of Babylonian Exile


Mar  2

2 Chronicles 36

Happy end to Hebrew Bible 


Mar  4

Psalms 1,5,8,19,23,24,37,92

Parallelism and Meaning

WK 9

Mar  7

Ecclesiastes ("The Emperor of Ice-Cream" click) ("Turn, Turn, Turn"--Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes "gone sixties"  and lyrics text

Wisdom literature--pessimistic


Mar  9

Proverbs (read 1/2, your choice) (Polonius to Hamlet click) (Poor Richard's Almanac click)

Wisdom literature--optimistic


Mar 11




Mar 12-18




Mar 21


Complex response to Wisdom literature (Quiz)


Mar 23

Job; JB, scene 1

Who's in charge here--God, man, or women? 


Mar 25

JB, complete

Drama vs. Narrative (Quiz)


Mar 28

Isaiah 7:14-15;  9:1-7;  36-37:1-7, 33-38;  42:1-21;  49:1-7

Prophetic literature

Paper Due

Mar 30

Open  ( click for paper assignments)

In-class editing


Apr  1


The prophet's dilemma; the big fish


Apr  4

Luke 1-12

Gospels as genre; agape (Quiz) )


Apr  6

Luke 13-24

Jesus, revolution, violence


Apr  8

John 1-5

Jesus as word


Apr 11

John 6-21

Jesus as interpreter of OT (Quiz)


Apr 13

Salomé (Online text click ); Mark 6:21-29

Beardsley's Illustrations (click)

Too many miracles; materialism


Apr 15




Apr 18


Survivor’s guilt; scars and wounding (Quiz)


Apr 20


Early Christianity; novel or parable?


Apr 22

Barabbas, cont.; Hughes, “On the Road” ()

Troubling Christian allegory


Apr 25

Revelations 1-11

Apocalypse as genre vs. prophecy


Apr 27

Revelations 12-22

Genesis revisited


Apr 29

O’Connor, “Revelations” (handout) 

Even in a pig palace!


Paper Due

May 2

Review (click for paper assignments) Discuss Final Exam



 FINAL EXAM as Scheduled

Excel as never before
































Notes on Assignments, Routines, and Goals

1.  Goals.  The course is designed to offer you a chance to engage in a literary, critical, and appreciative reading of a selection of Biblical works and of literary responses to those Biblical works.  In the process, you will have to opportunity to improve your ability to read the Bible with an eye to the various ways in which it captures major human themes and the numerous literary patterns by which those themes develop.  You will also be able to improve your skills as a persuasive, concise, and correct writer of prose.

2.  Grading Standards, Statement on Plagiarism.  We'll use Guidelines to HE111-112 .

3.  Assignments and Grading.  


% of Final Grade

Three out-of-class papers (click )

about   60%

In-class writings, quizzes 

about   25%

Final Exam

about   15%


4.  Course Policies.

a) Minimum work to pass:  you must do all papers and announced in-class work in order to pass the course. 

b) Late papers:  Do not assume that I will be reasonable about late papers; in fact, expect capricious behavior from me if you chose to hand in an essay late. 

c) Rewrites: you can rewrite--not superficially revise--one of the first two essays. The grade for the rewritten essay will replace that of the original, provided that it is a better grade. The rewrite is due before the due date of the next assigned paper. However, I encourage you to re-write before you hand in your essays.  To that end, I'm always happy to help you along with your drafts before you turn in a final version.  Stop by my office or get in touch with me via e-mail. 

5.  Class Meetings.  Discussion of assigned readings and other projects, punctuated occasionally by short, informal lectures.  A good deal of in-class writing and frequent announced and unannounced quizzes. 

6.  Office Hours.  MWF 10-10:45  and TTH, 9-11 & 2:00-4:20.  I read my e-mail frequently and I'll give you my home number, so you won't have any trouble getting hold of me.  My office phone is X6232.




























Paper Assignments for the Semester


General Guidance

Length:  3-4 pages

Due dates:  16 Feb, 30 Mar, 2 May

Audience:  your classmates and me, readers who are sharing in your experience and have read what you discuss and therefore do not require extensive summaries but do crave careful analysis and evidence in support of the point(s) you're making.


Format:  double-space; no title page; devise an interesting title, though, which you put at the top of the first page (see sample essays for examples.

Organization and Purpose:  avoid general, vague, platitudinous openings.  Set up the argument, at least in the case of all but the creative approach, briskly and do something early in the paper to draw your readers in so that they will want to continue reading.

Editing:  read over your "apparently finished" paper before turning it in to make sure it is clear, concise and correct.

Approaches and Suggested Topics.  Write three papers in which you employ at least two of the following three approaches (that means you may write two papers using a single approach).

Approach #1--Literary Analysis. (click to see a successful paper of this sort)

Pursue one of the following four options within this approach:


a) Discuss the importance of a particular episode in the Bible or in one of the other literary works we will have read.  Explain how that short episode develops a theme(s) and carries out certain motifs, images, and/or other techniques of the work as a whole.  Genesis, for instance, would be "the work as a whole" for one of the following episodes:


-Noah's drunkedness

-Tower of Babel

-Lot's lying with his daughters

-Judah-Tamar episode

-Lot-Sodom story

-Jacob's bargaining Esau for the birthright

-Temptation of Joseph by Potipar's wife

-Abraham-Isaac episode

-Shecham-Dinah event


b) Analyze how an apparently minor character serves to develop an important theme(s) and/or motif in one of the works we will have read.  Here are some examples from Genesis, though you are not limited to that work:



-Judah (in the Joseph story)



-Potiphar's wife

-Joseph's Pharaoh





c) Examine the thematic importance of a pattern of imagery, a motif, or "type scene" that runs through one of the works we will have read.  Here are some examples just from Genesis, though you are not limited to that work:



-eating, cooking, food


-animal/blood sacrifice


-meeting at the well


-forms of doubling--twins, Joseph's dreams


d)  Analysis of the way in which one of the literary works "handles" a Biblical episode, character, or motif.


Approach #2--Reader-Centered Method.  (click to see a successful student paper of this sort)

Examine how one of the works you've read has intersected with an important concern in your life.  Has it made you see something in your life differently or do you read that work differently than others might because of something you have experienced or learned?  The challenge here is to be intellectually rigorous and honest in discussing your own experience and to avoid at all costs the clichés we often hear concerning religious experience--"born again," "experience fellowship," "God's kindness," etc.  I do not mean to denigrate the experiences that these terms communicate; rather I mean to point out that in an essay analyzing your experiences of a Biblical and/pr literary text, they sound empty and lack clarity.  You may, in fact, find it interesting to take an often heard religious expression and explain what the experience of actually reading--and thinking about--the Bible or one of the other works does to the value of that expression.  The "patience of Job" is an obvious example.


Approach #3--Creative Method.  (click to see a successful student paper of this sort)

Probably yielding something considerably longer than the 3-4 pages, this approach has you writing a short story, play, or, if you want, a sermon involving a minor Biblical character, the reconstruction of whose life might be fascinating and might also suggest much about the literary choices that went into the construction of the original episode or story.  Can you imagine, for instance, a story about Abishag, the maiden who is chosen to lie with the aged David in order to keep him warm (Kings 1:2ff)? What went on--between them and in her mind?
















































Sample Successful Student Papers from the Past



1.  Literary Approach

The Convention of Construction in Genesis


     A thorough reading of Genesis often yields a variety of themes and motifs not generally associated with the first book of the Bible.  Patterns in certain forms of imagery, such as water and barrenness of women, can be traced throughout the text.  The pattern of construction and destruction of buildings and monuments plays a startling and impressive role throughout the work.  To properly understand the importance of many forms of imagery in Genesis one must consider the circumstances influencing the writer of the work.  The case of construction, for example, occurs particularly often in Genesis when one considers that the author of the book probably led a primarily nomadic lifestyle, or at least he depicted that kind of life, in which the impracticality of permanent structures had to be an obvious fact.  None of the patriarchs in Genesis lived in one place throughout his life.  Joseph seemed to find a home in Egypt, but Exodus proves that Egypt served only as a place to which he Hebrews could escape to avoid famine.  Abraham, the father of the Hebrews, certainly led a nomadic life as he traveled the countryside searching for the best region in which to survive.  With these thoughts in mind, permanent buildings and monuments play an interesting and unusual role throughout Genesis.

    The first occurrences of permanent structures in Genesis involve more destruction than construction.  The tower of Babel and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah demonstrate the wrath of God toward human formed, permanent structures.  For the first time mentioned in detail, man created a structure in the tower of Babel story.  The people intended to reach the heavens with the tower, a feat which God terminated in order to keep the power of man minimal.  Thus, Genesis first connects evil to construction.  The other two destruction

scenes described in Genesis, the flood story and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, also involve a violent attack on a people who have permanently settled in a single place.  Of course, all three destruction scenes occurred because of the evil of man.  However, the exemption of wandering sheep herders from the wrath of God cannot be denied.  Cities and other permanent settlements do not fare well throughout Genesis.  Genesis 13:12 emphasizes the holiness of the nomadic life by relating how "Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan while Lot dwelt among the cities of the valley . . ."  This statement occurs just after a sentence relating the date of Abram's separation from Lot to the time of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

     Nevertheless, permanent structures play an important role in holy affairs.  The construction of altars and monuments becomes extremely important, especially during the life of Jacob.  One should note that these holy structures served no luxurious purpose; they simply marked the place of an important religious experience or human confrontation with God.  Noah built an altar after the Great Flood, and Abram confronted God when God told him that the land that would be Israel belonged to him.  Jacob built most of the monuments mentioned in Genesis.  He constructed a monument when he had the dream of Bethel, at the place where he met his brother Esau after working for Laban, and after God changed his name to Israel and promised to make a great nation from his descendants.  In each case, the author emphasized the permanency of the structure, as he cited how each structure "is still here to this day."  These monuments rarely served any purpose other than marking a spot.  usually, the builder of the monument used only a pile of stones.  However, the patriarchs permanently marked the



place in which all major covenants were made and all major confrontations with God occurred.  The sacredness of the ground on which religious events occurred had to be etched in the earth forever.

     Throughout the book of Genesis, God personally directs only one construction project, the building of Noah's ark.  God lists the specifications for the ship in a noticeably precise manner.  This pattern becomes much stronger in Exodus in which God relates the specifications for the temple as well as for other religious goods.  Furthermore, Noah's ark did not persevere.  God directed Noah to build it in order to preserve all creatures, and Noah left the ark to its own fate when the ark had fulfilled its purpose.  Thus, the only permanent construction project which can even vaguely be attributed to God is the construction of the earth itself.

     Attempts to analyze patterns in the occurrence of permanent structures throughout Genesis yield interesting results.  The author of Genesis never associates sacredness with a permanent structure built for the convenience of humans.  However, the author emphasizes the sacredness and permanence of various altars and  monuments built as a result of direct communications with God.  Of course, one could assume that a nomadic people would not consider permanent homes of any great importance.  Thus, it is interesting that these people would want a record of the location of various spots of sacred earth.  Genesis emphasizes the importance of the earth in the earlier creation story in which God created man from dust.  God told Adam in Genesis 4:19, " . . . you are dust, and to dust you shall return."  Soil played a crucial role in the lives of the Hebrews.  Thus, the sacredness of permanent structures can be associated directly with the designation of particularly sacred soil.
















2.  Reader-centered approach

Markings: Meaning and Consequences

                                                         Andrew Pen


     Prisoner 88, a Polish Catholic interned as a worker at Auschwitz, tells a handsome audience of Naval Academy midshipmen that inconspicuous-looking Jews at Auschwitz would pretend to be Christians in their desperate attempt to escape Nazi persecution.  Sigmund Sobolewski, Prisoner 88, tells us that the SS men would thwart the Jews' efforts by checking the men's penises to see if they were circumcised.  Once discovered, circumcised men, presumably Jews, were put to death.  Astonished and confounded by Sobolewski's brief account of the Holocaust, I find the irony of the story, which pertains to the Nazis' use of circumcision as a marker for death, striking.  How does the Nazis' use of circumcision change the meaning of the covenant between the people of Israel and God?  Or does the meaning of the covenant remain unchanged, and in fact get reasserted by the Nazi atrocities?  In the Bible, circumcision and other forms of markings play a significant role in defining humanity's relationship with God.  Physical and emblematic forms of markings in Lagerkvist's Barabbas persist and function as critical determinants of one having faith or lack of faith.  Furthermore, how do individuals, such as myself, who bear no meaningful markings come to terms with this identifying mode that has often characterized humanity's relationship with God?

     When God makes his circumcision covenant with Abraham, he promises Abraham that he will make him prolific:  " I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you" (The New Revised Standard Version, Genesis 17.6).   In terms of the OT, God's promise of fruitfulness resembles a promise of afterlife.  As long as Abraham's children continue his lineage,

Abraham continues to exist.  The covenant, therefore, explicitly assures everlasting creation and implicitly means eternal life.  The issue of control also arises from the meaning of the covenant.  God asserts control by opening Sarah's womb after making his covenant with Abraham.  God also threatens deprivation to those who do not follow his covenant.  He says, "Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant" (Genesis 17.14).  Furthermore, by making males cut off their foreskin, their flesh, as a covenant, God subjugates man.  When God says, "So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant," God reminds man that humankind is of God's creation from earth, and unlike God, mortal (Genesis 17.13).

     The Nazis in Sobolewski's story, however, subvert and significantly change the meaning of the covenant.  Instead of promising life, the covenant brings death and destruction.  When the Nazis persecute the Jews and many other people, they assume a godlike control over them.  In contrast to God's promise to Abraham and his people, Nazi persecutions aim to destroy the nation of Israel.  In Sobolewski's story, the circumcision covenant becomes a marker of division.  Those men who were not circumcised survive, whereas the men who were circumcised die.

     Although many people may argue that the Holocaust does not pertain to the stories or to the covenant in the Bible, I contend otherwise and draw a parallel between Sobolewski's story and the story of the killing of Shechem.  To avenge the rape of their sister, Dinah, Simeon and Levi lie to King Hamor and Shechem as they offer a covenant between their people.  "We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us," they say (Genesis 34.14).  Simeon and Levi, like the Nazis, establish a division between their people through the covenant.


Uncircumcised men to Simeon and Levi are as abject as the Jews are to the Nazis.  Simeon and Levi, in their life, assume a godlike role when they offer to unite their people through the covenant of circumcision.  The make the following offer to King Hamor and Shechem:  "Only on this condition will we consent to you that you will become as we are and every male along you be circumcised.  Then we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live among you and become one people" (Genesis 34.15).  Enticed by the promise of prosperity and unity that such a covenant would bring, King Hamor and Sheckem readily agree and have every male in their city circumcised.  The sons of Jacob, however, betray King Hamor and Shechem, and kill them, along with all the other men, and plunder the city.  Simeon and Levi, like the Nazis, transform the meaning of the covenant.  Both in Sobolewski's account of the Holocaust and in the Shechem story, circumcision, as a mark of identity and allegiance to Abraham's God, represents a distinction that promotes violence and conflict. 

     Markings as identity and faith determinants are as pivotal and dynamic in Lagerkvist's Barabbas as they are in Sobolewski's story and the Sheckem episode.  Barabbas's cut under his eye, given to him by his father, and the disk with Jesus Christ's name and a Roman state seal engraved on it signify his struggle to accept Jesus Christ, God.  After killing his father and receiving the near fatal wound, Barabbas comes to a revelations that changes him.  The narrator tells us:

Now that they come to think of it, he had not always been the one who led and made decisions, not always the bold, reckless Barabbas who snapped his fingers at danger and death and everything.  He had not been like that until Eliahu had given him that cut under the eye.  Before then he had been anything but a dare-devil--the reverse, in fact (79).

Barabbas's apocalyptic change functions as the beginning of his attempt to reconcile life and death.  Although he does not know it, when he kills his father, Barabbas essentially kills his creator.  As an


 orphan, Barabbas knows nothing of his origins.  And because he cannot find answers to his identity questions in the mortal world, he tries to find them in the eternal, namely in death or the afterlife.  The cut under his eye signifies that his origin is something he cannot escape and is in fact his goal, his end.

     Barabbas's crisis of identity and faith culminates in a dramatic conclusions when he confronts a Roman governor about the slave disk he bears on his chest.  The slave disk with engravings of Jesus' name and a Roman state seal functions as an emblematic marking that symbolizes Barabbas's turmoil of having to live in two worlds.  Barabbas lives to find himself in Christ through death, but he truly lives in the temporal world as signified by the Roman State seal on his slave disk.  The slave disk also reveals that Barabbas serves two masters.  When the Roman governor confronts Barabbas, Barabbas, tells him that he has no god, which is to say that he belongs to the temporal world.  In contrast to Barabbas, Sahak commits to the eternal world of Jesus Christ when he maintains his allegiance to Christ.  Barabbas ultimately serves the temporal world and remains just as lost as he was before.  When he dies, he tells darkness, "To thee I deliver up my soul" (144).  In short, Barabbas originates from uncertainty and confusion and returns to it.

     Sobolewski's story of the Jews who pretended to be Christians and Barabbas and Sahak's confrontations with the Roman governor mirror each other in that their markings lead them to dire consequences.  In both situations, markings have forced these individuals to come to terms with their identities.  Although the Jews have denounced their faith by pretending to be Christians, they cannot truly deny their identity as Jews because of their physical markings.  Barabbas, however, gets to choose, but that very option to choose torments him.  Barabbas and the Jews bear temporal markings that have eternal consequences.  Contrary to my original premise That the Nazis have subverted God's


covenant with the Jewish people, they may very well have reasserted it.  By using the mark of circumcision, God's covenant with man in flesh, the Nazis have strangely affirmed that man is mortal, which is not to belie the egregiousness of their persecution.  By having man offer up his flesh to God, God reminds man that he is of flesh and therefore mortal.  Like Barabbas's slave disk, the circumcision covenant bears two meanings:  one of prosperity and posterity and one of death and mortality.

     But how do individuals who bear no meaningful markings come to identify themselves and their relationship with God or the eternal?  Christians mark themselves with the crucifix by wearing a necklace with a cross on it or by crossing their hearts after they pray.  Muslims formulate strict dress codes to identify themselves as followers of the faith.  But what kinds of markings do the atheists, the agnostics, and the followers of polytheistic religions have?  Although I am aware that such a concern poses a challenge that is more appropriate for a cultural anthropologist, I contend that everyone possesses a marking of some form that relates to the eternal world.  I, for one, find no meaning in my circumcision yet it means a great deal to Jewish people.  Forms of identifying individuality, however, strike me as having meaning.  I have noticed my birth mark which resides on my lower right arm as a darkened blot.  My identical twin brother does not have this mark.  People recognize me by the particular intonations of my voice or by my singularly structured face.  I notice the facial and vocal markings of others and recognize them by their features as well.  Individuality is finite, but the possibilities and the existence of individualities are infinite.  T an extent, I concede to the cosmological argument that a creator, God, exists because of design.  Although my sense of markings functioning as gateways to the eternal may seem mundane and theoretical, it nonetheless establishes a relationship


that defines my identity amid an incomprehensible existence.  I recognize the fact that I, unlike the Jews at Auschwitz and Barabbas, have yet to truly come to terms with my markings.  Perhaps my markings will fully manifest themselves when death comes to confront me.





























3.  Creative Approach



                                  Maggie DeLany


            For years after she left me, I spent my evenings sitting on a stool that was piled high with skins from my flock, out in front of my tent.  I would gaze over the fields, towards the mountains over which she disappeared.  My servants brought me my dinner out there, and on starry nights I would wrap myself in one of my skins and sleep under the moon, dreaming of my love. 

            When I first met her, I was delivering sheep to her father.  I feared her father, Saul, the great king of Israel.  I did not know her name then, but I remember the first time I heard it.

            “Mi’chal! Mi’chal, get me water.  The least you can do is get a drink for your father.  Although perhaps I should not trust the water you bring after the poisonous treachery you have dealt to me.”  Her father said her name harshly, but it was beautiful beneath the anger.  “Mi’chal.”  I still have not tired of saying it.  Sometimes, after she left, I would whisper her name to the night and the hills would call back to me in sad tones.  I know they were the last to see her, and they mourned her absence with me, awake on the lonely nights.

            “Mi’chal! Water also for the man here.”  He meant me, for his daughter to bring me water.  When she approached, I saw her eyes, black and golden, like a star seen through the branches of a night tree, above her loose veil.  As she bent to pour me water, her hair slipped from its covering, black and straight as the shepherds staff I held in my hand for the two days I had traveled from my home.  Her hands, on the pitcher, were olive brown and smooth; although I thirsted after my journey, I could not draw my eyes from her hands long enough to drink.



            Her father, the great king Saul, turned to me and spoke, as though in passing.

            “She is my disgrace.  I should throw her down the well of my enemy, and be rid of this problem.  A disgrace!  A treacherous daughter.”  He spat on the ground as he waved his hand to gesture at her, though he did not look in her eyes.  “She delivered my enemy to safety.  Her own father’s enemy!”

            “My own husband, father.”  It was the first time she spoke, and she only did so as she left the tent.  He glared at the opening to the tent, as though she could feel the hate from his eyes. 

            “I should be rid of her- marry her off again.  She is not yet old.”  Saul still spoke to me, though in an offhand manner, as though he would talk to himself, or his flocks.  It was only the mention of marriage and the still fresh sight of her beautiful eyes that emboldened me enough to reply.

            “She is also very beautiful.”  My words came out slowly, and low, so that the king only heard them as an afterthought.  I have many flocks and come from a proper family, but compared to a king, I am but a beggar. 

            “Yes,” he muttered, still gazing out the tent opening.  For another minute, he did not speak; I did not dare.  Suddenly he looked at me, his eyes refocused and clear.  “And what do I owe for the flock you bring me?”

            “Nothing; it is my gift to you.”  I saw my chance, my opening, my opportunity to again see a woman I had only dreamed existed.  Saul smiled at me then, and I returned to my home with his daughter as my wife.  I have often wondered since, did he smile with relief at being rid of the burden he considered her or with glee at the revenge he considered our marriage to be for her?



            Whether it was fear of her new home and husband, or sadness at having to leave her old life, Mi’chal took a while to get used to her new surroundings.  For the first few years, she rarely spoke to me, unless it was to demand or to scold.  It did not matter to me: I gloried in the ability to meet her demands, and reveled in the interest she certainly had in me, for why else would she scold me so?  I loved her, love her still.  I would even watch her while she ate, at the beauty and grace she demonstrated in that least activity:  Mi’chal was certainly the daughter of a king. 

            I sensed that she was dissatisfied and considered me beneath her.  She was right, of course; I should not be fit to look upon her face, the daughter of a king. But Mi’chal had betrayed her father, the great king, Saul.  Her husband had become his enemy; when Saul decided to kill her husband, Mi’chal helped him flee, then hid his absence.  He had left her, and her father gave her to me as a wife.  I know that Mi’chal did not mean to deceive her father; I believe that it was just the folly of youth, the indiscretion of young love, that made her act as she did. 

            Years passed, and I grew to understand Mi’chal better. I loved her more with each passing year, though it took her a while to adjust to her new household.  Each day I sought a gift for her, something little to make her happy in my home.  Small things: a flower, a beautiful stone, some henna for her feet or charcoal for her eyes, or herbs and fruits with which to cook.  My only purpose was to make her smile, and watch the crinkles form at the sides of her gold-black eyes.

            One hot afternoon, while I was in my tent resting, one of my servants came panting, running up to share his news.

            “Men. Camels.”  He gulped, trying to catch his breath.  “Many men on camels.  They are coming over the hills, and a cloud of dust covers the sky over them.”  I left him there panting to see the army that approached me, shrouding the sky with their dust.  I felt my wife nearby, standing a little behind me.  The



army stopped and the dust fell like rain on our clothes and hair, choking me and watering my eyes.  When it cleared, I saw that it was not an army, only my wife’s brothers, Ish’ ba-al and Abner, and their men.

            Abner did not speak to me; instead, he looked at Mi’chal.

            “You are returning to David.  Hurry, we must deliver you with all haste.”  I stood dumbfounded at the news, and did not even feel Mi’chal leave her spot behind me and slip into the tent.  As in a daze, I saw a flock of sheep being led into my pastures, the same size flock I had given Mi’chal’s father for her hand in marriage.  I saw Mi’chal emerge from the tent, wearing her best skirts, the ones she had worn for our marriage, and mount the camel that Ish’ ba-al held for her.

            “Mi’chal?” I asked, looking at her.  She would not meet my eyes.  “Mi’chal!” I cried, throwing my hands into my hair and tearing at it.  “Mi’chal!  No, Mi’chal!”

            Ish’ ba-al shouted to his men, and they began to ride, again kicking the dust up around my tent, and filling the sky with it.  I continued to say her name, her beautiful name.  I did not realize that I was running after the dust cloud, calling her name, for many miles.  Even then, I did not stop.  I tore my clothing and ripped at my hair.  I grieved as I ran, calling lamentations to the sky, trying to penetrate the dust cloud with my supplications.  I wondered if she heard me, and why she would not look back. 

            The procession had reached Ba-hu’rim before it stopped, and the dust slowly settled.  I continued to cry out loud, although I had abandoned the eloquent prayers I had sent to the sky, settling instead for a keening prayer of, “Mi’chal!”  My hands flopped weakly at my sides, my feet were cut and bleeding from the



rocks over which their camels had rode effortlessly.  My eyes were caked with the dust, and my mouth and throat parched.  I did not notice any of my afflictions, only the inadequacy of my cries.

            Mi’chal’s brother Abner approached me; I did not see him.  I would not take my eyes off of her, though I could only see her back, covered in the ceremonial skirts she wore.  I could see a bit of her brown wrist stretch out from the sleeves, and the top of her heel above her sandals. 

            “Pal’ti-el,” Abner said.  I did not hear him.  “Pal’ti-el, go home.” 

            I was staring at her back, willing her to look at me.  One look, one glance, one shudder from her sandaled heel, and I would have followed her the rest of my life.  She did not move.  With all my heart, all my soul, all my body, and all the love I had for her, I willed Mi’chal to move.  She sat as one painted in place, rigid. 

            “Pal’ti-el.”  I turned and looked at Abner; Mi’chal still had not moved.  “Pal’ti-el.  Go home.” 

            “Mi’chal. . .”  I called her name one more time, softly, as I sunk to my knees, suddenly exhausted.  She did not move.  I looked at Abner, and he raised his voice.

            “GO BACK HOME.”  He walked back to his camel and mounted, then called the group to motion.  They had disappeared beyond the hills before I could even move from my knees.  Mi’chal had not looked back as long as I could see or sense her.

            Many years I was without her.  My flocks grew, my servants multiplied, my body aged.  I never gave up hope of her returning to me, though the days grew long, and the nights longer.  Time melted into time, and I lost track of the seasons I had been without her.  When I walked among my flocks, I still kept my eyes alert for a small gift to make her smile, as I had when she was with me. 



            News travels slowly, but I eventually heard that she had been cursed by David to remain childless.  I wanted to let her know that I would take her back, even without the hope of a son, but I think she knew without me telling her. 

            My days grew less, and sometimes I had trouble seeing, but I could always see Mi’chal, when she came around the hills in the twilight to love me again.  We would talk for hours, sometimes all night, but she would always leave by morning.

            I know that sometime soon she will come for me for good.  She will place her still smooth brown hand on my now wrinkled one, and lead me around the hills.  It will be night, and starry, and the moon will peek between the folds in the hills like a pearl in an oyster.  Her eyes will glow as they always did; I will become lost in them and she will find me.  Until then, I sit outside my tent, on a stool covered with skins from my flocks, waiting for the night so I may visit with my love.




Reference: New Revised Standard


1 Samuel, 18:20 (David and Mi’chal marry)

1 Samuel, 19:11 (Mi’chal helps David escape)

2 Samuel, 3:12 (Mi’chal is taken back to David, Pal’ti-el runs after her)

2 Samuel, 6:23 (Mi’chal is cursed by David to remain childless)









































Paintings and Sculptures on Biblical Themes




Sistine Chapel Scenes from Creation (click)

Sistine Chapel Scenes from Genesis (click)

Sistine Chapel Entire (click)


Other Biblical Scenes

Links to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden (click)

Adam and Eve, temptation ( click)

Expulsion (click)

Various Biblical Scenes including Joseph and Potipher's Wife (click, see also pages 2 and 3)



Jacob-related images from Wikipedia (click )

Dinah and Shechem (click)

Jacob's ladder (click)

Jacob wrestles with God at Peniel (click) (click)


The Red Tent- related

Image of Mandrake Root (click, scroll down a bit)


1 and 2 Samuel-related

Ark of the covenant (click) (click )

Michelangelo's David  (click) (click) (click)



Beardsley's Illustrations (warnings: they were produced during an age of studied decadence) (click) (click)

Moreau's Salome (click)

Bonnard's Salome (click)


Rembrandt's "The Return of the Prodigal Son" (click )



Various depictions (click)




























Display of "J," "E," and "P" in Genesis (these are "large strokes," which leave out the very small alterations in voice and insertions).

Chapt. and Verse   Scribal Tradition/"Author(s)"
1-2: 1-3


1: 4 - 4:26 J
5 P
6:1-9 J
6: 1-22 P
7: 1-10 J
7: 11 - 8: 5 P
8: 6-12 J
8: 13-19 P
8: 20-22 J
9: 1-17 P
9: 18-27 J
9: 28 P
10 PJ mixture
11: 1-9 J
11:10-27 P
11: 28-30 J
11: 31-32 P
12: 1-4 J
12: 5-9 P
12: 10 - 13: 18 J
14 ?
15  & 16 J
17 P
18  &  19 J
20 E
21: 1-2 J
21: -5 P
21: 6-21 E
21: 22-32 J
21: 33 E
21: 34 J
22: 1-19 E primarily
22: 20-24 J
23 P
24 JE mixture
25: 1-6 J
25: 7-20 P
25: 21- 26: 33 J
26: 34-35 P
27: 1-45 JE mixture
27: 46 - 28: 9 P
28: 10-22 JE mixture
29: 1-14 J
29: 15-30 E (with some little P)
29:  31 - 30.:24 JE mixture
30: 25-43 J (with some little E)
31: 1-16 J
31: 17-43 JE mixture
31: 44-55 J
32: 1-23 JE mixture
32: 24 - 33: 16 J
33: 17-20 JEP
34 J (with some little P)
35: 1-15 EP
35: 16-20 P
35: 21-22 J
35: 23 - 36: 43 P
37, 38 , 39 J
40, 41 JE mixture
42 - 46: 7 JE mixture
46: 8-27 P
46: 28 - 47: 6 JE mixture
47: 7-12 P
47: 13-27 J
47: 27-28 P
47: 29 - 48: 2 J
48: 3-7 P
48: 8-22 J
49: 1-28 ?
49: 28-33 P
50: 1-11 J
50: 12-13 P
50: 14 J
50: 15-26 E























































































To be or not to be--An Exercise on Identifying Weak Verbs

Steps to take with any paper, late in the drafting process:

1.  Circle all occurrences of to be verbs, except those in quotes.

to be

's, 're (in contractions)

2.  Count all the to be verbs you have circled.

3.  Count your sentences, excluding quotations.

4.  Divide the number of to be verbs by the number of sentences.

40% and below suggests that you have probably taken the time actually to think about and choose the verbs in your sentences.  You have avoided the following structures:

                          the passive voice
                          the "it is . . . . that" 
                          the "There is" 
                          noun formations--"he is supportive of me" (as opposed 
                          to "he supports me")

 Click here for some examples of how to turn to be sentences into active ones.  Read about the passive voice and active verbs in your Handbook, as well.















































HE111-112 Information and Guidelines for Students


I.  Course Description.


In Rhetoric and Introduction to Literature (HE111-112), literature is the springboard for teaching composition.  In the two courses, you study the principles of composition and apply them in written responses to your readings.  This combination of composition and literature provides you with experience in performing diverse writing tasks and challenges you to understand and appreciate the ways in which literature expresses human and cultural values.


During the first semester, instructors assign frequent writing tasks designed to help you master content, organization, diction, style, and mechanics.  They also introduce you to the principles of writing critically about the short story and drama.  In the second semester, instructors require more sophisticated essays in which you write about poetry and the novel, and they will introduce you to using the librarys resources, documenting material correctly, and quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing accurately.


II.  Objectives.


1.  To develop your confidence and style as a writer so that you can:


a.   turn a general topic into a purposeful thesis;


b.   shape your composition so that it has a beginning, middle, and end and so that its organization and content serve its audience and purpose;


c.   write fully developed and coherent paragraphs employing such methods of development as summary, narration, description, comparison/contrast, classification, analysis, and persuasion;


d.   edit your sentences so that they vary one from the other, so that they depend mainly on the active voice and avoid wordiness, and so that they are grammatically correct; and


e.   use the resources of the library to research a topic and document the results.


2.  To improve your ability to read critically and sensitively various kinds of literature.


3.  To enhance your understanding and appreciation of cultural values and basic human issues through the study of literature.


III.  Evaluation of Written Work.


Your instructors will evaluate your writing to help you to achieve the objectives described above, reading your essays carefully, commenting on both their strengths and weaknesses, and expecting you to use those comments to improve your subsequent writing.


Part of the evaluating role of the instructor is to assign a grade to your work.  Although not all instructors assign grades to every paper, the Academy requires instructors to report grades about every six weeks, and you should be aware of the following guidelines.


1.  Criteria for Grading Writing Assignments:


A:  The A essay shows originality of thought in stating and developing a controlling idea or thesis.  It employs the most suitable kind and amount of evidence, and this evidence, at every stage of the essay, has a clear purpose.  In addition, the excellent essay is characterized by careful and effective organization of sentences and paragraphs and by careful and effective choice of words and phrases.


B:  The B essay has many of the traits of the A essay, but is usually lacking in one or two areas such as completeness of development or clarity of focus in its controlling idea.  The prose in a B essay can be flawless and clear or a bit careless, but its general lack of mechanical errors and its readability reveal some successful editing and proofreading.


C:  The C essay has a central idea and a basic plan of organization, though that organization breaks down at certain stages and is often not the plan best suited for the controlling idea.  The C essay lacks development either because it doesnt provide sufficient evidence to support its generalizations or because it lists evidence without providing an assessment of that evidence.  Though it usually needs improvement in mechanics and wording, the C paper can be almost entirely free of mechanical errors.  Whereas the B essay can be quite impressive in an area or two, the C essay usually lacks an outstanding feature, though it might have outstanding potential.


D:  The D essay shows little understanding of the topic; it usually lacks a controlling idea, and if it states an idea, the body of the essay does little to support that idea.  The D essay often has a random order; its paragraphs unfold without a plan; and its sentences, though usually understandable, show little evidence of being revised and therefore suffer from wordiness and a distracting number of mechanical errors.


F:   The F essay is unsatisfactory.  It fails to state and develop a main idea, often because it does not respond to the assignment.  In addition, several of the major mechanical errors listed below occur repeatedly throughout the paper.  English instructors agree that frequent occurrences of these errors characterize substandard writing:


(1)  sentence fragments

(2)  comma splices or run-on sentences

(3)  dangling or misplaced modifiers

(4)  faulty agreement:  subject-verb or pronoun-antecedent

(5)  faulty use of tenses

(6)  substandard idioms or expressions

(7)  excessive misspellings of common words


2.   Literacy and a Passing Grade:  Instructors will not automatically assign a failing grade to the paper in which some of the seven faults repeatedly occur, especially when the paper has strength in its content or ideas.  However, if you habitually commit several of these mechanical errors in your essay and do not make definite progress toward avoiding them by the end of the term, your instructor is likely to judge your semester's work as unsatisfactory.  You would do well, then, to study all your handbook has to say about these writing faults so as to avoid them in your writing.  Good ideas deserve good presentation.