In this unit students will consider how the Scriptures of Old and New Testaments represent living traditions rather than mere inert texts and continue to inform issues in the world. This unit will explore how Christian communities, including Lutheran communities, have understood and used the Scriptures in response to questions about the Bible's portrait of God; for example, the conquest of Canaan, acts of divine vengeance against transgressors and stories of sexual brutality appear highly problematical both to those stories within the church and by its critics. In grappling with the so-called dark side of God, this unit will explore ways of making sense of the troubling God of the text and how a biblical meta-narrative with Christ at its centre informs any response to contemporary questions about divine violence.

Unit code: BS8041L

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 12.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Foundational

Unit discipline: Biblical Studies

Proposing College: Australian Lutheran College

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Learning outcomes


Interpret biblical texts in the light of a Christ-focused biblical meta-narrative


Analyse biblical texts relating to divine violence in the light of their cultural, historical, literary, social and religious contexts


Demonstrate relevant methodological skills in the interpretation of biblical texts relating to divine violence


Relate to contemporary issues around the question of divine violence from an informed perspective


Engagement with online learning materials, including audio/video, tasks, forums, and asynchronous discussion with lecturer

Indicative Bibliography

  • Brueggemann, Walter. Divine presence among violence: contextualising the Book of Joshua. Eugene, OR: Paternoster, 2009.
  • Copan, Paul. Is God a moral monster? Making sense of the Old Testament God. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.
  • De Villiers, Pieter, and Jan Willem van Henten. Coping with violence in the New Testament. Studies in Theology and Religion 16. Leiden: Brill, 2012.
  • Emilsen, William W., and John T. Squires, eds. Validating violence, violating faith? Religion, scripture and violence. Adelaide, SA: ATF Press, 2008.
  • Lind, Millard C. Yahweh is a warrior: the theology of warfare in ancient Israel. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1980.
  • Neville, David J. A peaceable hope: contesting violent eschatology in New Testament narratives. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013.
  • Römer, Thomas. Dark God: cruelty, sex, and violence in the Old Testament. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 2013.
  • Seibert, Eric A. The violence of scripture: overcoming the Old Testament’s troubling legacy. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2012. [Available as ebook from ALC Library]
  • Thomas, Heath A., et al. eds. Holy war in the Bible: Christian morality and an Old Testament problem. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013.
  • Trible, Phyllis. Texts of terror: literary-feminist readings of biblical narratives. Overtures to Biblical Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 2450 words

2450 67.0

Summative Reflection 1050 words

1050 33.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 26 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:49 +1000