This fall I am offering CASRN101 The Bible. I’ve revamped the syllabus. It is more classical in its canonical approach (from Genesis to the Apocalypse) and it is built around a “Bible as literature” approach, just as it says in the course description on the registrar’s website.
I am also offering a Kilachand Honors College freshman seminar on Moses (KHCRN101). Here we sit around the table (the class is small enough to meet at my office), and right now we’re simply reading the biblical story very slowly and attentively, practicing the art of slow reading. Once we have a sold sense of the complexities of Moses in the Torah we’ll read some ancient, medieval, and modern authors who tried to made sense of the Moses figure, including Philo, Josephus, Gregory of Nyssa, Maimonides, Spinoza, and Freud. Along the way we look at parallels such as Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus, and transformations of Moses and his legacy in later Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sources. Even Eusebius’ Life of Constantine is of relevance here. We’ll also examine how cinema, the modern medium par excellence, has tackled and re-interpreted the Moses figure. Most illuminating: comparing the original black and white 1923 version of the Ten Commandments and the 1950s remake. (We’ll also read Zora Neal Hurston and Thomas Mann.)