Introduction to the Bible

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1


This unit walks through the contents of the Bible and shows how knowledge of its background helps modern readers to understand it.  The student is introduced to relevant source materials such as the Apocrypha and to the history of the biblical period.  Attention is paid to principles of exegesis and to issues such as inspiration, authority and canonicity.  Throughout relevant study skills are repeated and applied.


This unit lays a foundation for the other units by introducing students to the Christian Scriptures, their backgrounds and the first principles of their interpretation.


Category of outcome

By the end of this unit students should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

·      Reproduce key elements of the historical setting of ancient Israel, the ministry of Jesus and the beginnings of the church

·      Explain what unfair practice in coursework is and how it can be avoided

·      Identify the main literary genres in the Bible

Intellectual skills

·      Distinguish between biblical and extra-biblical sources of information

·      Engage in a discussion about canon and biblical authority

Practical and Transferable skills; Personal qualities

·      Write an academic essay with a bibliography and footnotes

·      Use tools such as commentaries, reference works and websites

·      Work independently and direct their own learning

·      Apply appropriate information technology skills including word processing, internet communication, information retrieval, online literature searching and library databases

·      Manage their time, plan and work on several areas at once and meet a variety of deadlines


Assessment task


Weighting within unit


·      A quiz in class

·      A short essay


10 questions

1000 words





·      An essay

[One of the essays has to be on the Old Testament, the other on the New Testament.]


2000 words






Available on which programme(s)?

BA in Theology


1. Backgrounds to the OT in general

2. Genesis to Numbers

3. Deuteronomy - Judges

4. Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Nor­thern Kingdom

5. Southern Kingdom, exile, return

6. Composition, canon, transmission and inspiration

7. Sources for the background to the NT

8. Political history 333 BC - 70 AD

9. The cultural background to the NT

10. Judaism in the first century

11. The theological unity of the Bible

Teaching method

Interactive lectures

Additional eLearning content

Unit materials are available at Spurgeon’s Online to support student learning


Written feedback within 15 working days from submission

Date of approval (for office use)


Information updated on

December 2015

Indicative reading

Arnold, Bill T., and B.E. Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian survey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999)

Drane, John, Introducing the Old Testament 3rd edn (London: Lion, 2010)

Drane, John, The World of the Bible (Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2009)

Drane, John, Introducing the New Testament 3rd edn (London: Lion, 2011)

Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough, Encountering the New Testament: A historical and theological survey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998)

Fee, Gordon D., and D. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for all its Worth 3rd edn (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003)

Ferguson, Everett, Backgrounds of Early Christianity 3rd edn (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003)

Gundry, Robert H., A Survey of the New Testament 4th edn (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003)

Hillyer, Norman (ed.), Illustrated Bible Dictionary 3 vols (Leicester: IVP, 1980)

Jones, Simon, The World of the Early Church: a social history (Oxford: Lion, 2011)

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Introduction to the Bible

BA (Hons) in Theology - Year 1
Course Unit 112





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Dr Pieter J. Lalleman

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