Biblical Studies Academic Info - Princeton Theological Seminary

Biblical Studies Academic Info

The Biblical Studies Department offers a broad range of courses in biblical languages, Old Testament, and New Testament.


MDiv students are required to take nine credits in Biblical Studies, including Orientation to Old Testament and Exegesis and Orientation to New Testament and Exegesis, which are normally taken during the first year. Students also take one additional course in Bible.

Although not required for the MDiv degree, students are encouraged to take Greek and/or Hebrew, and language-based exegesis courses. Exegesis courses are offered on two tracks: English-based and language-based.

Entering students who have studied Greek and/or Hebrew in a college or university setting and who wish to have an introductory language prerequisite waived must take the appropriate language placement examination(s). Students who have studied the equivalent of two full semesters or more of a biblical language at an ATS-accredited seminary or divinity school and have earned a grade of B or better do not need to take a placement examination.

Current Course Highlights

At PTS, students have the opportunity to learn from professors who are at the cutting edge of their fields. These are just some of the many courses that showcase the innovative and integrative ways the Biblical Studies department challenges students to think broadly and deeply about the meaning of scripture in its various contexts and its relevance for ministry in today’s world.

Complete Course Offerings

A consideration of select agrarian Old Testament Scripture passages, their histories of interpretation, the consequences of such interpretations, and implications for contemporary exegesis. Of special interest will be the relationships among text, interpretation, and land. As a way of embodying the curriculum of the course, class time will involve reflection on assigned readings, tending the Farminary garden, and eating together.

An exploration of concepts of “justice” in the Old Testament and the societies of the ancient Near East. As part of the course, students will look at some of the earliest known written legal collections in the world, with a primary focus on the social ethics communicated by the laws. Issues such as treatment of foreigners and strangers, respect for religious institutions, property, social status, assault, witchcraft, sexuality and gender will be considered. In a society in which the realm of the gods and the realm of humans were inseparable, we will pay particular attention to what role these societies believed God or the gods played in the execution of justice.

The varying agendas of biblical authors and editors plus additions and revisions over the centuries compromise the value of the Bible as a record of historical events. By contrast, archaeology presents an un-edited record of the same period and independent data against which to evaluate the historicity of biblical and extra-biblical texts. Studying the archaeological and biblical evidence in tandem enables synchronic and diachronic reconstructions of early Israelite society; facilitates distinguishing between texts relating Israel’s mythic and legendary past from texts roughly contemporary with the events described; and raises questions regarding ancient and contemporary manipulation of the past and the significance of the past for the present.

Some of the most lively and contentious questions within communities of Christian faith today revolve around sexuality, gender, and Scripture. This class takes up the task of queer hermeneutics, exploring queer theory as a way of creatively engaging biblical texts and queer theology as a way of attending to the voices that might otherwise be overlooked in a focus on sexuality as a disembodied “issue.” Students will critically reflect on their own history with sexuality from a personal and theological perspective and then explore how a queer approach might open space for surprising and valuable interpretations of biblical texts.

This course will examine in-depth the recent monograph written by John Barclay entitled Paul and the Gift. This volume has been called both groundbreaking and one of the most important books written on Paul in the last twenty years. Going beyond the division between the “old” and “new” perspectives, Barclay’s work revolutionizes the way grace is understood and therefore has significance for preachers, teachers, and communities of faith as a whole. This course, then, allows students to read this work carefully and to explore and analyze how new notions of grace affect the life of the church and its practices.