Inside the PTS Curriculum: Violence in the Bible
The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professors’ bio.
This week’s course is “Violence in the Bible.”
About Violence in the Bible
This term Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about the difficult subject of violence with the Rev. Dr. Jerome Creach in the class “Violence in the Bible.” An upper level elective, this class is open to students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Theological Studies (MTS) or Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (MAPS) programs.
Dr. Creach’s course explores the many dimensions of violence in the Bible. In the class, students consider the portrait of God (apparently) acting violently and destructively, the (seeming) divine approval or sanction of violent acts, and accounts of venerated figures acting violently. The ultimate goal of the course is to provide ways of reading texts that seem to promote violence as integral parts of Christian Scripture.
By the end of the class, students will discuss the vocabulary of violence in the Bible (e.g. Hebrew hamas and associated terms). They will also be able to identify the various dimensions of violence in the Bible including violence attributed to God; divinely sanctioned violence; violence against women; violence in economic systems; and eschatological violence in the form of eternal punishment.
Dr. Creach will teach students to articulate the relationship between key tenets of the Christian faith—including theology proper and the work of Christ—and the issue and problem of violence. Students will learn to discuss perspectives on biblical authority, especially as it pertains to the relationship between Old and New Testaments.
This class will provide students with principles for interpreting problematic texts, informed by biblical studies and complementary disciplines (theology, ethics, church history). Upon completing the class, students should be able to articulate ways to use violence as a lens through which to read the whole of Christian Scripture.
As to required texts, this class will make use of Dr. Creach’s Violence in Scripture, as well as pertinent articles and essays.
Students will need to have completed introductory courses in Old Testament before taking “Violence in the Bible.” Those in the class can expect to be graded on class discussion as well as a book review and major paper.
About the Instructor
The Rev. Dr. Jerome Creach is the Robert C. Holland Professor of Old Testament. Before joining the faculty of Pittsburgh Seminary in 2000, he taught at Barton College (1994-2000), the College of William & Mary, Randolph-Macon College, and the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Creach earned his doctorate at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (now Union Presbyterian Seminary). Prior to his study at Union, he earned his M.Div. and Th.M. (in systematic theology) at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Creach is interested in Old Testament theology and the appropriation of the Bible to the life of the Church.
An ordained pastor in the PC(USA), Dr. Creach is widely published. Some of his works include: Ten Commandments for Today, Violence in Scripture, Planted by Streams of Water: The Destiny of the Righteous in the Psalms, Joshua. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, and Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies.