Honors English III Reading Assignment

Reason for the Assignment

Because Biblical allusions abound in literature, it is important to have a working knowledge of the major stories in the Bible, no matter what one’s faith. Furthermore, understanding allusions of all kinds (Biblical, mythical, Shakespearean), should help improve the chances for a solid score on the AP exam, where it will expected that you call a Christ image a Christ image.

Though some of you may know Christ as a religious figure, begin here to imagine him as one of the greatest literary characters ever created. He has elements of a king’s life and duty, faces great intellectual antagonists (The Pharisees), goes against the preconceptions of his day (eats with prostitutes and tax collectors), embodies the most interesting paradox of being half mortal, half deity, and commits the ultimate sacrifice for a greater good. What a character!

Details about the Text

• The text we will use can be found at: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew&version=KJV

• Because it is the language most often used in Western literature’s Biblical allusions, we will study the King James version of the Bible. You can also use a Revised Standard Version (RSV), which is a very close translation to James tradition.

• If the meaning of the passage confuses you, you may find it helpful to read a more modern translation (all found at the same website in the pull-down menu) and then learn the King James version.

• You will be quizzed on your factual knowledge of the passages upon return from winter break.

• In spring term, each of you will be responsible for one of the lessons below. You will be required to research where that allusion occurs in one piece of literature, and walk the class through this connection. More details about this format in an upcoming blog post below.

Famous Bible Passages

NB: The list of frequently alluded to lessons in the Bible:

1. “The Creation” Genesis; Chap. 1. Motifs: God’s power w/water, chaos/order, number seven.

2. “The Garden Test”Genesis; Chap. 2-3 Motifs: Test, garden, serpent, dust, tree, loss of innocence, toil.

3. “The Flood” Genesis; Chap. 6-9 Motifs: Test, God’s power, water, number 40, mountain, heart, chaos/order, duty of prophet, raven, dove and olive leaf, covenant.

4. “Test of Abraham” Genesis: Chap. 22 Motifs: test, Mountain, fear of God, sacrifice (blood), prophet, covenant.

5. “Ten Command.” Exodus: Chap. 20 Motifs: test, Mountain, Moses, duty of prophet & archetypal judge figure (he breaks up a
fight between an Egyptian and Israelite in his younger days), covenant.

6. “David & Goliath” I Samuel: Chap. 17 Motifs: test, cunning (similar to Jacob’s), Bethlehem, Philistine.

7. “Nativity Story” Luke: Chap. 2 Motifs: Bethlehem/David, angel = messenger, first born, shepherd.

8. “John The Baptist” Luke: Chap. 3 Motifs: water, dove, prophet, minor character to introduce major.

9. “Prophet Motifs” Mark: Chap. 6 Motifs: no prophet accepted @ home, wilderness, John’s head, fish, number 12, walks on
water—a mythological sequence at this point in the story!

10. “Sermon/Mount” Matt: Chap. 5-7 Motifs: Mountain, heart, prophet.

11. “Last Supper” Mark: Chap. 14 Motifs: meal, blood, covenant, shepherd, prophet, number 12.

12. “Gethsemane” Mark: Chap. 14 Motifs: test, garden, Mountain, Judas, betrayal kiss,

13. “Peter’s Denial” Mark: Chap. 14 Motifs: betrayal, number 3, Jesus’ blasphemy (verses 61-65) is juxtaposed with
Peter’s denial.

14. “Crucifixion” Mark: Chap. 15 Motifs: paradox half man/half deity, number 3, test.

15. “Resurrection” John: Chap. 20, 21 Motifs: paradox half man/half deity, number 3, test.

Cash Cab Bonus Round:
The Mark of Cain Genesis Chapter 6
The Tower of Babel Genesis Chapter 11: 1-9
Sodom and Gomorrah Genesis Chapter 18
Lot and his Wife Genesis Chapter 19
Esau and Jacob Genesis Chapters
The Story of Joseph Genesis Chapters 37-50
Lazarus John Chapter 11: 1-12:11
30 pieces of silver Matthew Chapter 26, 27
Mark Chapter 14
Luke Chapter 22
John Chapter 13, 18
Prodigal Son (two sons motif) Luke Chapter 15
Apocalypse, Armageddon Revelations
The suffering of Job Job
I spoke like a child, etc. I Corinthians Chapter 13
Good Samaritan Luke
The Holy Spirit Acts Chapter 1-2
The Lord is my Shepherd Psalm 23
Light and Salvation Psalm 27

Blog Post Directions

Each blog post will focus on one important Bible passage and celebrate one lesson from that passage, and the blogger will also delineate one (though there be several) motif that enhances the literary quality of that story. And just as any AP writer realizes that the audience knows the plot of the story, make sure your produce analytical prose and avoid plot summary. The post should also utilize any type of media(s) to complement the delineation of the Bible lesson and motif. Then the post should briefly explain how this motif influences three specific passages from American literary culture. Moreover, each specific passage should come from each of our three major eras of study, romanticism, realism, and modernism. The total length should be around 9-11 sentences, and one should also reflect on famous works of art that illuminate one's Bible story as well when considering "media" forms. This project is designed to be a reflective assessment, a soft thinking challenge that you ruminate on over time. Similar to any designer, you can brainstorm numerous iterations before deciding on what you think is the best option. Likewise, ask questions in class as discussing your question makes for profound learning on the literary merits of the Bible and strikes a chord with the goals of this task: soak up as much as possible the literary aspect of the Bible before the AP exam.

More on Biblical Allusions:

Dr. Joel Hoffman

Five Ways Your Bible Translation Distorts the Original Meaning of the Text


Make a connection with the motif in you Biblical story to the same motif that occurs in an example of American literature. This should be a solid anayltical paragraph. Then, we'll turn this prose into a blog prompt. Research the web for a famous paiting or sculture of the Biblical story or the scene from American literature. Or you can find an interview (video) of the author discussing that motif or a literary critic discussing the scene. At the end of your blog prompt, you can supply two to three bullet points where this motif repeats in other works of American literature. Remember, too, reflect on examples of poetry as examine the field of American literature for Biblical motifs.