Religious Knowledge Exams, 1947-68

Frye’s Examination Questions for His Religious Knowledge Courses.

Reproduced here are the examination questions that Frye set for his first‑, third‑, and fourth‑year courses in Religious Knowledge for the years 1947–50, 1952, 1958–60, 1962, and 1966–68.  I am indebted to Nicholas Graham of the Frye Centre and president of the Northrop Frye Society for uncovering these from the archives of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, and sending them along to me.

VICTORIA COLLEGE

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1947

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE—FOURTH YEAR

PASS OPTION FOR HONOUR COURSES

A STUDY OF THE ENGLISH BIBLE

Examiner—H. N. Frye

Time: 2l/2 hours

  1. Explain in a paragraph or two what meaning you attach to five of the following words and phrases: Word of God, apocalypse, Fall of Man, revealed religion, Messiah, Law, the Promised Land, myth and ritual, millennium.
  1. Write brief notes (no more than half a dozen sen­tences) on six of the following: the place of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament canon; Ezekiel and the Holiness Code; Wisdom literature; the Apocrypha; the Deuteronomic philosophy of history as revealed in Judges and Kings ; the influence of Canaanite religion on the Hebrews; the Leviathan symbol; the Biblical symbols of the unfallen world; the influence of the Babylonian captivity on Hebrew thought; the religious insight of Amos or Hosea; the humor of the Book of Jonah.
  1. “The term ‘Gospel’ simply means good news; and while to the Evangelists the good news was the appear­ance of the Word of God in the flesh, a Gospel is not primarily a life of Jesus, but a presentation of that life in such a form as to show that that life alone fulfils Old Testament prophecy and illuminates the meaning of Old Testa­ment law and history.”  Discuss.
  1. What importance in the argument of the Bible as a whole do four of the following characters possess: Adam, Jacob (Israel), Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Elijah, John the Baptist?

OR

Estimate the value of any one of the following (a) in terms of his individual merits as an author, (b) in terms of his contribution to our understanding of the Bible as a whole: Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Paul, John, the author of Job.  (In some cases it will be necessary to explain carefully what books you are ascribing to the author.)

OR

A question formulated by the candidate will be accepted: such a question must of course be written out in full at the beginning of the answer to it.

VICTORIA COLLEGE

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1948

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE—FIRST YEAR

PASS OPTION FOR HONOUR COURSES

THE ENGLISH BIBLE

Examiner—H. N. Frye

Answer five questions.

  1. Indicate in general outline the importance for the development of the Bible of any three of the following external influences on Hebrew culture: Egypt, Assyria, Syria, Babylonia and Chaldea, Rome, the Philistines, Persia, Greece.

  1. “The Christian regards Christianity as perfected Judaism.”  What do you understand by this statement?
  1. Write brief notes on three of the following: the Apocrypha, pre-exilic poetry, monolatry and monotheism, the meaning of the Book of Jonah, the importance of the king in the Old Testament, the relation of Jesus to Old Testament history.

4.  Outline the development of Hebrew prophecy down to the Exile.

OR

Discuss the importance and the peculiar character­istics of one of the following: Isaiah, the Second Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah, Elijah, Ezekiel, the author of Ecclesiastes.

  1. Outline the argument of the Book of Job and say whether you think the problems raised in it are satisfac­torily answered.
  1. What conception of Jesus do you think is presented in the Gospels? Do you see more than one such conception among the four Gospels?  What conception of Jesus do you get yourself from reading the Gospels?

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1949

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE—FIRST YEAR

PASS OPTION FOR HONOUR COURSES

THE ENGLISH BIBLE

Examiner—H. N. Frye

1. Write notes on three of: early Hebrew poetry; primitive prophecy from Saul to Elijah; the four-document structure of the Pentateuch; the place of the Exile in Babylon in Hebrew thought; monotheism in Amos; the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah; the conception of Christ in the Gospels.

  1. Why is the Old Testament necessary to the Christian Bible?
  1. What is “revealed” in the Book of Revelation?
  1. What meaning do you attach to two of the following conceptions: Word of God, Creation, Apocalypse, Law, Prophecy, Wisdom, Messiah, Gospel?
  1. It has been asserted that the author of’ the Book of Job “started something he couldn’t finish.”  Do you find the conclusion of the Book of Job dramatically and intellectually satisfying?

VICTORIA COLLEGE

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1950

RELIGIOUS  KNOWLEDGE—FIRST YEAR

PASS OPTION FOR HONOUR COURSES

THE ENGLISH BIBLE

Examiner—H. N. Frye

Answer four questions.

1. Write notes on five of:  the Book of Deuteronomy, the fragments of early poetry in the Old Testament, the J, E, and P sources of the Pentateuch, the Apocrypha, the Exodus, the Babylonian captivity, Moses and Elijah in the New Testament, the inter-relations of the synoptic Gospels.

2.  What are the chief associations of the phrase “Word of God” in Christian doctrine?

3. Write an essay on one of the following: the trans­lation of the Bible, the historical background of the Bible, the development of prophecy in the Old Testament.

4. What are some of the more significant symbols in the Book of Revelation, and what is the book as a whole trying to say?

5. Outline the argument of the Book of Job, attempting to assess the place in that argument of the following: the Prologue, the speeches of Elihu, the description of Behemoth and Leviathan,  the restoration of Job to prosperity.

VICTORIA COLLEGE

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1952

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE—FIRST YEAR

PASS OPTION FOR HONOUR COURSES

THE ENGLISH BIBLE

Examiner—H. N. Frye

  1. Give a brief outline of the historical connections of the Hebrews with other civilizations of Western Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean world as far as the Babylonian captivity.
  1. Outline the argument of the Book of Job and say whether or not you feel that the questions raised in the poem are satisfactorily resolved.

  1. What are the main features in the symbolism of the Book of Revelation that seem to you significant for the understanding of the Bible as a whole?

VICTORIA COLLEGE

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1958

Third Year—Honour

Religious Knowledge

SYMBOLISM OF THE BIBLE

Examiner—H. N. Frye

Answer four questions.   Try to avoid undue repetition.

1.  What evidence is there that the authors of the New Testament tended to read and interpret the Old Testament symbolically?   Base your discussion on one of the following:  (a) Gospels and Acts, (b) the Pauline and General Epistles, (c) Revelation.

2.  Outline the argument of the Book of Job and consider in your interpretation the remark made by Job to God in Robert Frost’s poem A. Masque of Reason:

Because I let You off

From telling me Your reason, don’ t assume

I thought You had none.  Somewhere back

I knew You had one. But this isn’t it

You’re giving me.

3.  Write brief notes on five of: Leviathan, Moses and Elijah, Joshua, Melchizedek, David and Solomon, Antichrist, Babylon.

4.  Indicate briefly the chief uses made in the Bible of three of the following recurrent symbols:   ark, dove, serpent, river, cup, tree, temple.

5.  What contributions to the symbolism of Christianity originated from two of:  the agricultural cults; nomadic and pastoral life; the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia; rival religions in the Roman Empire?

6.  Trace the main features either of the Messiah conception or of the symbolism of sacrifice in the Old Testament, with some comment on the New Testament interpretation of it.

7. “My God, Thou art a direct God, a literal God, a God that wouldst be understood literally. . . . But thou art also a figurative, a metaphorical God, a God in whose words there is such a height of figures, such voyages, such peregrinations to fetch remote and precious metaphors, such extensions, such spreadings, such curtains of Allegories, such third Heavens of hyperboles. . . . The style of thy works, the phrase of thine actions, is metaphorical. The institution of thy whole worship in the old Law, was a continual Allegory; types and figures overspread all; and figures flowed into figures. . . . Circumcision carried a figure of Baptism, and Baptism carries a figure of that purity, which we shall have in the new Jerusalem. . . How much more often doth thy Son call himself a way, and a light, and a gate, and a vine, and bread, than the Son of God, or of Man . . .” —John Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624).  Using this passage as a basis for discussion, what is the importance of “metaphor” in the Bible either (a) in the understanding of Christianity as a whole, or (b) in the study of literature?

VICTORIA COLLEGE

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS,   1959

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE – THIRD YEAR

Pass Option for Honour Courses

SYMBOLISM IN THE BIBLE

Examiner:   H.   N.   Frye

1. Write notes on five of: the development of prophecy; the Apocrypha; Passover; the imagery

of the Song of Songs; problems of translation in the Bible; the sources used by Old Testament writers; the symbolism of sacrifice in the Bible; Jerusalem; the ceremonial law as an allegory.

2. “It may be only the result of editing and rewriting, but the Book of Job in its present form gives us the impression of somebody starting something he couldn’t finish.”  Discuss.

3. Explain the pattern of symbolism in the Book of Revelation.

4.  Trace the appearances in the Bible of five of the following symbolic pairs, with some account of their significance: dove and ark; Moses and Elijah; leviathan and behemoth; Egypt and Babylon; bread and wine; king and priest; tree and river.

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS. 1960

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE – THIRD YEAR

Pass Option for Honour Courses

SYMBOLISM IN THE BIBLE

Examiner – H. N. Frye

1.   What are some of the ways in which the Bible has been re-interpreted by editing and later comment?  Discuss with reference to one of the following;

(a) earlier and later writing within the Old Testament

(b) the Old Testament as compared with the Apocrypha and the New Testament

(c) the Bible and later tradition and commentary, including translation.

2.  What is the meaning of the word “apocalypse”?  Outline the apocalyptic symbolism of the Book of Revelation with reference to its sources to the Old Testament.

  1. How are the following symbols connected together in the Bible: serpent, dragon, Leviathan, Satan, Egypt and Babylon, Great Whore, death, hell?
  1. “Behold, we count them happy which endure.  Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5: 11).   How adequate is this as an interpretation of the Book of Job?

5.  Is there such a thing as “The Religion of the Bible”?

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1962

Religious Knowledge – Third Year

Pass Option for Honour Courses

SYMBOLISM OF THE BIBLE

Examiner – N. Frye

1. Comment on the symbolism of five of the following:

(a) Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.  But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present . . .  (Heb. 9).

(b) To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood . . .  (I Peter 2).

(c) Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that al1 our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  (I Cor. 10).

(d) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  (Rev. 12).

(e) And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Rev. 11).

(f) Fear not, thou mother of the children: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord. For thy help will I send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah, after whose counsel I have sanctified and prepared for thee twelve trees laden with divers fruits, and as many fountains flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains, whereupon there grow roses and lilies, whereby I will fill thy children with joy. (II Esdras 2).

(g) Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm. (Ps. 89).

(h) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. (John 3).

2.  Write notes on five of: Melchizedek; Moses and Elijah; the Great Whore; the Red Sea; the Promised Land; the “scapegoat”; the deluge; the Bride of the Song of Songs.

3.  What is the importance for Biblical symbolism of two of: the Jewish ceremonial law; the life of Christ as presented in the Gospels; the authority of the prophet; the conception of “vanity” in Ecclesiastes; God’s answer to Job.

4.  Why is the Old Testament necessary to Christianity?

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1966

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE – THIRD YEAR

PASS OPTION FOR HONOUR COURSES

SYMBOLISM IN THE BIBLE

Examiner – H. N. Frye

Comment on the symbolism of some of the following passages (no precise number required)

1.  Kings’ daughters were among thy honourable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.  (Psalm 45: 9).

2.  Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad. (Jeremiah 51: 7).

3.  For thy help will I send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah, after whose counsel I have sanctified and prepared for thee twelve trees laden with divers fruits, and as many fountains flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains, where­ upon there grow roses and lilies, whereby I will fill thy children with joy. (II Esdras 2: 18–19).

4.  And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

5.  Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.  (John 12: 24).

6.  Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise?  Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2: 15).

7. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called  Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.  (Revelation 11: 8).

8.  All that openeth the womb is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether
ox or sheep, that is male. (Exodus 34: 19).

9.  I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. (Job 42: 5).

10.  Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.  (Psalm 110: 4).

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY

ANNUAL EXAMINATIONS, 1967

RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE 316

SYMBOLISM IN THE BIBLE

Examiner – H. N. Frye

Comment on the symbolism of some of the following:

(a)  When Pharaoh would hardly let us go, the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.  (Exodus 13:15)

(b)  To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices. (I Peter 2:4–5)

(c)  And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.  (Rev. 11:8)

(d)  I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.  (S.S. 1:5)

(e)  The wise man’s eyes are in his head but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.  Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise?  Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.  (Eccl, 2:14–15)

(f)  The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.  (Ps. 110:4)

(g)  Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them, Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.  (Ps. 89:9–10)

(h)  The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.  (Job 42:7)

(i)  For thy help will I send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah, after whose counsel I have sanctified and prepared for thee twelve trees laden with divers fruits, and as many fountains flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains, whereupon there grow roses and lilies, whereby I will fill thy children with joy.  (II Esdras 2:18–19)

(j)  All our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea: and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (I Cor, 10:1–4)

(k)  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  (Rev. 21:2)

1968

THIRD YEAR RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE 316

Symbolism in the Bible

Examiner – H. N. Frye

Comment on as many (or as few) of the following verses as you like:

(a)  And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.  (Genesis 3: 22–24).

(b)  All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.  But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck.  All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem.  And none shall appear before me empty.  (Exodus 34: 19–20).

(c)  Thus saith the Lord God:  Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.  But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales.  And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt not be brought together, nor gathered:  I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.  And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. (Ezekiel 29: 3–6).

(d)  And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. . . . And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 21 1–2; 22: 1–2).

(e)  Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise?  Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2: 13–15).

(f)  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.  (John 3: 14).

(g)  As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled? (Job 21: 4).

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