“I Did Not Wash My Feet with that Woman”: Using Dramatic Performance to Teach Biblical Studies



The student dramatic performance is an effective way for undergraduates to learn biblical studies. In this article I will give an example of a dramatic performance assignment that I developed over a number of courses and used most recently and most successfully in an undergraduate course in the Hebrew Bible at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest/Appalachian region in 2008. Drawing on my own experience as a teacher, as well as on the ideas of philosophers, educators, playwrights, and biblical scholars, I will explain why such performances are effective teaching tools. I will also give guidance on how to use dramatic performances effectively. I intend to show that the success of this assignment depends on, and ultimately validates, two basic trusts: trust in the intellectual and creative capacity of students, as well as trust in the wealth of meaning in the biblical text.