University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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Biblical Studies

The Biblical Studies program is taught by the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies within the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC).

About the major

In the Biblical Studies (BBCL) major, you will learn how to read the Bible in a more informed and responsible way. Junior units teach the methods needed to understand what biblical books were trying to communicate in their ancient setting, the foundation of all further discussion about the message of these books. Senior units build on these skills and introduce students to the methods necessary to understand each distinctive type of biblical literature. Over the course of the major you will learn how to read Old Testament (Tanak) narrative, law, ritual, poetic, wisdom, prophetic and apocalyptic texts, and you will have the opportunity to take additional units on the New Testament, and Biblical (Classical) Hebrew. By the end of the major, you will have mastered methods for better understanding biblical texts. In addition the major will teach you skills specific to understanding the various different sorts of biblical texts and a solid groundwork on background issues such as the ancient historical and social context of the biblical literature.

There are no foreign language requirements for undergraduate study as all units of study are conducted in English and use texts in English. Study of Hebrew is, however, encouraged in conjunction with BBCL units of study, and is necessary for honours and postgraduate study.

Pathway through the major

A major in Biblical Studies requires at least 36 senior credit points including six credit points from either BBCL2603 or BBCL2607, and six credit points from either BBCL3601 or BBCL3602.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Biblical Studies. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You can find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

Junior units taken in first year are: BBCL1001 Reading Bible: Narrative, Law and Ritual, and BBCL1002 Biblical Themes: Joshua to Kings.

These foundation units teach the skills necessary to understand what the biblical texts were trying to communicate in their ancient context, and what literary techniques they used in narrative, law and ritual texts.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

Senior-intermediate (2000 level) and senior-advanced (3000 level) units build on the basic methodological approach taught in the junior units, and cover all of the other main types of biblical literature. The 36 senior credit points to complete a major in Biblical Studies are drawn from BBCL2603 Messianism in Biblical Prophetic Texts, BBCL2607 Biblical Poetic Books, BBCL2609 From Historical Jesus to Written Gospels, BBCL2610 The New Testament as Literature, BBCL3601 Daniel and Revelation as Apocalypses, BBCL3602 Job, Proverbs and Other Biblical Wisdom, as well as Classical (Biblical) Hebrew units of study (commonly HBRW2631 and HBRW2632 Hebrew Accelerated C1 and C2).


A high proportion of students who major in Biblical Studies continue to an Honours year. To qualify for honours you must have an average of 70 percent or above in 48 senior credit points of Biblical Studies which should include at least two Classical Hebrew units of study. An example of a common combination of units for honours would consist of BBCL2603, BBCL2607, BBCL2609, BBCL2610, BBCL3601 and BBCL3602 plus two Classical Hebrew units of study (eg HBRW2631, HBRW2632). The honours program allows students an even broader integration of the overall Biblical Studies program with the Classical Hebrew program in which students study courses on biblical compositions and themes, and write a research thesis on a topic of their choice.

Contact/further information


Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
Room 621, Brennan MacCallum Building (A18)
Course coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Young
Phone: +61 2 9351 6671

Or email the SLC office: