F602 Winter 2020 The Nature of Scripture
Tuesdays, 2:15–3:40, Jan. 28–Feb. 18
Instructor: John Turner
This course examines the textual relationships among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures. We will begin by studying connections between the Torah and other ancient texts, including the Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Next, we will examine the Christian New Testament’s engagement with and reinterpretation of Jewish scripture. We then turn to the Qur'an, reading its narrative of Yusuf alongside that in the Torah and also examining similarities between Quranic passages and Christian literature (both the New Testament and extrabiblical). Finally, we will take a look at the creation of a modern American scripture, the Book of Mormon, in particular its appropriation of material from Isaiah and the Gospel of John. The point here is not to debunk scripture by identifying antecedents. Rather, the instructor contends that recognizing scripture’s literary history encourages deeper respect for the religious traditions shared by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others.
John Turner teaches in the George Mason University Department of Religious Studies. He has written books about American evangelicalism; Mormonism, including a biography of Brigham Young; and the history of Plymouth Colony.