Biblical Perspectives is a one-semester course that builds upon the work of Cultural Perspectives as students examine the core texts of Christianity and Judaism. These are the writings collected in the Holy Bible. Knowledge of these scriptures is the foundation of Christian thought and action.
Professors guide students in an exploratory journey through the historical contexts and religious teachings of the Bible. Students are empowered to discover the texts’ interpretation and application to the lives of both individuals and communities.
Whoever thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought. Augustine of Hippo
Students explore biblical perspectives in three intertwined senses. They discover the different perspectives in the Bible on the work and will of God. For example, they will see how Mark and John present rather different visions of Jesus to their readers. Secondly, students examine the perspectives of the Bible on a wide range of topics. Thirdly, by reading the Bible from a variety of vantages points they will understand the different perspectives on the Bible’s meaning for our lives.
Biblical Perspectives is taught by the faculty of the Department of Religion. Professors encourage students:
- To develop an understanding of the historical contexts in which the Bible took shape.
- To appreciate the development and variety of religious thought within the Bible itself.
- To explore the concepts of God and God’s dynamic relationship with humankind.
- To examine how biblical teachings have been and continue to be interpreted and applied.
- To use a variety of modern critical methods for studying the Bible, including historical criticism, social-scientific criticism, and cultural criticism.
- To reflect on how these critical competencies can guide students as workers, family members, and citizens after they graduate from Samford.
The location of Biblical Perspectives within Samford’s Core Curriculum reflects a commitment within the University that Scripture should undergird all of Samford’s academic programs. While not all courses require skilled biblical interpretation, an intellectually rigorous and faithfully committed approach to the Bible shapes each program. A nursing student may learn a mass of information and techniques for patient care, but she or he also asks critical questions: Why is it important to care for people in the first place? How does my dispensing of care reflect my grasp of God’s purposes? How does my treatment of this particular patient draw on—or ignore—my understanding of God’s kingdom? The finance major asks similar questions about financial planning, real estate, and banking. It is our hope that students will emerge from Biblical Perspectives knowing the importance of asking such questions and having the means to begin to answer them.
The Christian commitments of Alabama Baptists formed part of the underpinning of Samford when it was founded as Howard College in 1841. The College appointed Jesse Hartwell as its first Professor of Theology in 1844, though it would be another fifty years before a course on the Bible was offered for credit. Soon thereafter all students were required to take at least one Bible course. When Howard College organized itself into departments in 1916, the Bible curriculum was entrusted to the Department of Religious Education. Through various name changes, the Department of Religion has continued to offer an extensive curriculum devoted to the study of the Scriptures. In 1997, Samford’s new Core Curriculum was introduced, and the four-credit Biblical Perspectives course replaced the two-course cycle of Old and New Testament Survey, of which students had to take at least one. Biblical Perspectives connects the study of the Bible to the rest of the University’s Core Curriculum and ensures that every Samford undergraduate studies both the Old and New Testaments.