RELI 3143:

Love and Sex in the Biblical World

TCU, Department of Religion, Spring 1999
Tuesday 2:00-4:45

Professor David Gunn
Beasley Hall 207; tel: 257-7441 or 257-6130; email:

*Please note that this syllabus is preliminary only and its details are subject to change. It does provide, however, a representative view of the course.

Course Objectives
Class Schedule
Required Reading


A study of human relationships in the Bible, in the ancient social world in which the Bible was composed, and in present day north American society. Among questions to be asked:

Does the Bible connect these two experiences in the same way we do today? Which aspects of our sexual morality come from the Bible and what have we changed to fit our changed circumstances? What does the Bible tell us about gender relationships, and how do we relate to its views? What role does (or might) the Bible play in our striving for loving relationships in a just society?

Course Objectives

Class Schedule (tentative outline only)

January 19:  Introduction to the course

January 26:   Love, sex, and the Song of Songs (Song of Solomon)

February 2:   Love

February 9:   Marriage and household

February 16:   Sex outside marriage

February 23:   Rape

March 2:   God, sex, and gender: Jeremiah and Ezekiel

March 9:   Wise women, strange women: Jezebel

March 23:   Creation and Fall: Eve

March 30:   Purity, gender, and homosexuality

April 6:   Paul and sex

April 13:   Jesus, the Gospels, and sex

April 20:   Workshop planning

April 27:   Workshop

May 4:   Workshop

Required Reading

Selected biblical texts and secondary sources (drawn from books, articles, and films) will be assigned for each class. Keeping up with this schedule of reading/viewing will be essential for satisfactory progress in the class. Arrangements will be made in class for obtaining and viewing videos (which will be viewed outside class times). Required books are:

L. William Countryman, Dirt, Greed, and Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and their Implications for Today (Fortress Press, 1990)
Danna Nolan Fewell and David M. Gunn, Gender, Power, and Promise: The Subject of the Bible's First Story (Abingdon Press, 1993)
Assessment will be based on: