At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :
By the end of this course, the student should be able: - to confront him/herself in a personal and critical way with the reflection developed during the lectures on the basis of biblical texts, and to argue his/her position, showing that he/she is conscious of the complexity of the questions at stake, also when confronted with various philosophical and religious traditions. - to read a biblical text methodically, showing that he/she understands what is implied by such a process of reading and interpreting a text in the present context.
The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
1. The first component concisely presents the starting point of every reflection on religion, faith and ideology in a Christian context. In the current western society, one can observe a crisis concerning this matter. In this respect, two chapters refer to the twofold cause of this. On the one hand the cultural-historical evolution of premodernity via modernity to postmodernity and on the other hand the 'strange' character of the biblical tradition itself, that nevertheless functions as foundation for the Jewish Christian tradition.
2. In the second component possible answers to this crisis are discussed. The first chapter deals with some 'negative' reactions, in which the historicization of biblical stories and fundamentalism are the main subjects. The second chapter sketches in what way the 'positive' response can exceed this tarnishing crisis in an enrichening, critical contact. In this connection, the matter of the Bible and historicity are discussed and thereafter, there is attention for the rise of the historical-critical exegesis. Finally, we zoom in on the shift from a diachronic to a synchronic approach of the text of the Bible.
3. Against the background of the discussion of negative and positive answers to the crises with which the western Jewish Christian tradition has had to deal since the beginning of the 20th century, the third and last component will focus on some fundamental, existential human questions that are dealt with in the biblical tradition. After the discussion of the relation between the Old and the New Testament, in which the Old Testament has to receive the appropriate attention (chapter 1), we deal with the question of the way in which the biblical and/or Old Testament literature thinks about and tries to answer essential questions in three chapters. The second chapter of the third component deals with the origin and the purpose of human life against the background of the song on creation in Genesis 1,1–2,4. The third chapter deals with the realization of human living together, on the one hand from the perspective of respect for life in the Decalogue in Exodus 20,1-17, and on the other hand on the basis of the matter of social justice in the Old Testament concept of the Holy Year. Finally, the fourth and last chapter gives attention to the relation of God with human fortune. From three fundamental topics that determine and occupy man and society to this very day, in particular violence, suffering and love, it is demonstrated how the Old Testament literature is essentially and lifelike connected to the human existence in all its efforts to give meaning.
English version: H. Ausloos & B. Lemmelijn, The Book of Life. Biblical Answers to Existential Questions (Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, 41), Louvain – Paris – Walpole, MA: Peeters; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 2010 - see http://www.peeters-leuven.be/boekoverz.asp?nr=8724