Biblical Studies

The Biblical Studies area focuses on the canonical books of the Bible, both within their historical and cultural worlds and in relation to their reception within the Christian and Jewish traditions. All students acquire a thorough competency in both the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, including competency in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Students may learn other ancient languages and literatures as their research requires. The comprehensive exams cover the whole Bible, with emphasis on either the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible or the New Testament, and include a specialized exam in an area of study pertinent to the student’s dissertation.

Biblical Studies Faculty

Area Admissions Requirements

Students seeking admission should have both relevant language skills and background knowledge. They normally have studied either Hebrew or Greek up to or beyond the Intermediate level and at least one modern research language (usually German or French). Their preparatory studies–depending on whether they focus on Hebrew Bible or New Testament–should include subjects such as Ancient Israelite religion and history, Ancient Near Eastern history and literature,Second Temple Judaism, Greco-Roman history and literature, advanced exegesis courses, and methods in Biblical Studies. Their writing sample should demonstrate facility in scholarly methods,the use of research languages, and advanced familiarity with scholarly bibliography.

Coursework Requirements (12-16 courses)

  • Doctoral Bible seminars on both Old and New Testaments, including some language courses. 
  • Two doctoral Bible colloquia (3 credit courses, normally in the fall).
  • Two courses recommended in a relevant area of theology (e.g., hermeneutics, fundamental theology, systematic theology, history of Christianity, history of interpretation, Jewish Studies, etc.)

Language Requirements

  • Professional language proficiency in primary original language of research (Hebrew for HB/OT, Greek for NT), demonstrated through an area-administered augmented proficiency exam at the beginning of the second year.
  • Competence in the language that is not the research focus (Hebrew or Greek), demonstrated in the course of comprehensive exams.
  • Biblical Aramaic, demonstrated through coursework.
  • French and German.


Comprehensive Exams

  • One written exam on texts of the testament that the student has chosen to emphasize; half of the exam focuses on translation and textual matters, the other half on general questions of scholarship in the field (four hours).
  • One written exam on translation and exegesis of passages in the original language from the student’s secondary area of concentration, with additional questions about general problems in scholarship (four hours).
  • One exam on the student’s special area of scholarly interest, which can include ancillary topics in Theology (3 hours).
  • Oral exam (2 hours).

Requirements for a Minor in Bible

  • A minimum of three graduate-level courses that provide advanced exegesis familiarity with TWO biblical books or traditions (e.g., the Priestly tradition, the Synoptic Gospels). Advanced language courses may be included (e.g., Graeca, Psalms).
  • Minor comprehensive exam according to the structure of the student’s major program.
  • Exam preparation, including a structured bibliography, will be under the guidance of an MCAS Bible Area faculty member.