Master of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies
Sacred Scripture is the word of God as it is put down in writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Dei verbum 9).
But, this word of God is expressed in human words that are in every way like other human words, just as Jesus, the Word made flesh, is like other men (Dei verbum 13). This means that interpretation of scripture requires two things: a) knowledge of the condition of the sacred authors' times and cultures, the literary genres in use at those times, and the modes of feeling, speaking and thinking then current; and b) reading and interpreting scripture in light of the same Spirit by whom it was written (Dei verbum 12).
The Athenaeum's Master of Arts in Biblical Studies degree equips students with the knowledge of the scriptural authors and their cultural context necessary to understand the Bible, along with skill in interpreting the Bible in light of the Holy Spirit. Graduates of the program will have master's-level ability to study and teach Biblical Studies and will be prepared to pursue doctoral studies if they wish.
Course and research requirements
- Students in the program will attain a working knowledge of either Biblical Greek or Biblical Hebrew, usually by taking two courses (= 4 credits) in one or the other (L 200 and L 201 or L 251 and L 252).
- Students will also take the two-credit course B 312 Biblical Hermeneutics.
- Students will take 23 credits of required courses in biblical studies as follows:
- Old Testament: Pentateuch, Themes in the Historical Books, Wisdom Literature & Psalms, Prophets, and an Old Testament elective or LPB 301 Old Testament Scriptures;
- New Testament: Matthew/Mark, Luke/Acts, Pauline Literature, Johannine Literature, Revelation, Catholic Epistles, and a New Testament elective or LPB 302 New Testament Scriptures.
- Students will do major research in biblical studies either by taking an additional two-credit course at the 500-level or by writing a thesis (four credits) in place of either the required Old Testament elective or the required New Testament elective.
- In addition, four credits of elective courses are required in theology. One of these courses must be S 230, S 233, S 241, LPS 302 or LPS 303.
In order to complete these course requirements, students must be able to take courses during the day.
After completing all course requirements, students take a comprehensive examination. The exam is divided into two parts. The first part is a three-hour written examination on biblical studies, consisting of objective and essay questions. The second part is a 30-minute oral defense of one's major research before a board of three faculty members, including the director of the research. The student must pass both parts of the examination.
Prerequisites for Admission to the Program
In order to apply, a candidate must have completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with a 3.0 average. The candidate also must have already earned 12 semester credits in theology.
A student must apply to the dean of Special Studies either by May 1 for autumn semester admission or by October 1 for spring semester admission. Application and letter of recommendation forms are available below for download or from the registrar's office.
Someone interested in Biblical Studies, but not in a full master's degree, may take many of the Athenaeum's biblical studies courses individually.
Since 1990 58% of those admitted to the Master of Arts in Biblical Studies degree program have earned the degree.