Interpreting the Bible:
Critical Approaches to the Text


Dr Catherine Playoust (coordinator) Semester 2, 2020
Thursday 10.00am — 1.00pm
Tuesday 6.00pm — 9.00pm

This unit provides an introduction to the theory and practice of textual interpretation. It also considers the particular challenges of interpreting the inspired text of the biblical canon with its multiple senses from a Catholic perspective. The student will learn about several interpretive methods and approaches and will apply some of them to the exegesis of passages from the Old and New Testaments, with the aid of dictionaries and commentaries.

Census Date

Tuesday 18 August




3 hours per week


  • one 500-word essay 15%
  • one 1,250-word essay (Old Testament) 30%
  • one 1,250-word essay (New Testament) 30%
  • one 1-hour written examination (equivalent to 1,000 words) 25% 

Set Text Recommended for Purchase

  • Hayes, John H., and Carl R. Holladay. Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner’s Handbook. 3rd ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2007.


  • Aune, David E., ed. The Blackwell Companion to the New Testament. Blackwell Companions to Religion. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • Fee, Gordon D. New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors. 3rd ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002.
  • Fitzmyer, Joseph. The Biblical Commission’s Document “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church”: Text and Commentary. Subsidia Biblica 18. Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1995.
  • Gorman, Michael J. Elements of Biblical Exegesis: A Basic Guide for Students and Ministers. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, MN: Baker Academic, 2010.
  • Harrington, Daniel J. How Do Catholics Read the Bible? Come and See series. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.
  • McKenzie, Steven L., ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Perdue, Leo G. The Blackwell Companion to the Hebrew Bible. Blackwell Companions to Religion. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.
  • Pontifical Biblical Commission. The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. 1993.
  • Steck, Odil Hannes. Old Testament Exegesis: A Guide to the Methodology. Translated by James D. Nogalski. 2nd ed. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998.