Ethical Issues and the Bible

Unit code : RELT21021
Credit rating : 20
Teaching period(s) : Semester 1

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Aims | Objectives | Assessment | Information | Course unit content |
Tutors | Timetable | Teaching methods |


The aims of this course unit are threefold:

(1)   to familiarize you with some key texts from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures;

(2)   to consider what kinds of ethical systems might illuminate such key texts; and

(3)   to consider how some of the texts have been used in modern ethical debates.


Objectives (Learning outcomes)

By the end of this course students should be able to:

1.      Read some passages from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament with exegetical sensitivity;

2.      Assess what ethical theories might further illuminate such texts;

3.      Recognize the use of such texts in modern literature and debates.


1.      Construct a textual exegesis;

2.      Empathize with the views of others; and

3.      Debate preferences in the construction of reading strategies.

1.      Interpret and comment on texts;

2.      Justify their own position theoretically; and

3.      Debate with others.

Assessment methods


Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Critical review of J. Barton’s Ethics in Ancient Israel


500 words


Group presentation on a selected chapter from Barton


15 minutes


Interpretative essay on short passage from Jewish or Christian Scripture



1500 words


Examination on unit lectures



2 hours




Free Choice : Yes

Available as free choice to all other programmes (available only if less than 34 Religions and Theology students register for the course unit)


Minimum blackboard requirements will be met.

Additional eLearning content

Students will be encouraged to use electronic aids in their seminar work

A full description of this course can be found in MyManchester.

Course unit overview

This Second Level course unit is designed to consider a range of texts from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and the New Testament (especially the teaching of Jesus) that raise significant ethical issues, including war and violence, justice and peace, gender, marriage and family life, wealth and poverty, ecology. In addition to exploring the nature of the ethical systems assumed in the biblical materials, the unit encourages critical evaluation of those systems from a range of different moral perspectives, including virtue ethics and ethical naturalism. Evidence for the existence of not merely a single theory of ethics (e.g., ‘divine command ethics’) in ancient Israel and her literature but a plurality and blending of moral theories is considered throughout the course unit.  

Teaching staff
No available data to display.
Lectures - 11 hours
Seminars - 11 hours
Tutorials - 11 hours

Teaching and learning methods

1x1 hour lecture each week
1x1 hour exegesis each week
From week 2 1x1 hour seminar each week (students will work in pairs for their presentations)