The collection of materials known as the Bible (the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament) is a rare survival from the ancient world ¿ indeed from several ancient worlds and cultural contexts, given that the materials were compiled over more than a millennium, a period when empires (Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Greece, and eventually Rome) rose and fell, and when Israel itself endured a series of catastrophes and revivals. In one way, this is the old and well-known "Bible story." In another way, it is quite new and controversial given that, in recent years, remarkable discoveries in archeological sites and archives have given new insights into these ancient worlds, into the relationships between Israel and its neighbors, and into the relationships and differences among the Biblical writers themselves. The questions arise all over again: What is distinctive about the ideas of the Bible? How is the ancient to be defined as against the modern, and what can be learned from the ancient concepts of cosmology, of human society, and human destiny? Throughout, the course concentrates on the framing of arguments on the meaning and significance of Biblical ideas from a comparison of Biblical documents, one with another, and with documents from other cultures. One of the objectives of the course is to discover what the Bible is ¿saying¿ in those original contexts. The other objective is to work out, as modern readers, what the Bible might be "saying¿ in the very different cultural world of the twenty-first century. Affiliate department: Humanities.