The student will:
1. Overcome the structural problems arising either from a fear of or
an unfamiliarity with the style of the biblical text.
2. Acquire the skills to read and discuss the biblical text with
reasonable ease and comprehension.
3. Distinguish between the assumptions and hermeneutic techniques of
traditional biblical exegesis and the methodology and conclusions
of modern biblical criticism.
4. Distinguish between the assumptions and techniques of traditional
biblical exegesis and the theory and methodology of modern biblical
5. Learn to think historically about the origins and redaction of
6. Distinguish and appreciate the distinctive and varying styles of
biblical literature: the narrative, the saga, the genealogy, the
legal code, poetry and prophecy.
7. Discern the major literary and religious themes and recognize their
dynamic development throughout Scripture.
8. Identify the major personalities, events and political geography
of Ancient Israel and become familiar with the unfolding story line
of the biblical narrative.
9. Appreciate and discuss the biblical text as the classical literature
of an ancient culture, as a genuine and reliable source of historical
awareness and record and as a repository of evolving spiritual
understanding which has helped to shape the development of the
1. Introduction to traditional understandings of the Hebrew Scripture;
Divine Revelation; the literalist argument.
2. Modern methods of biblical research including Documentary Theory,
comparative middle eastern literature; the theory of the original
matriarchy and the nature of patriarchy and its literary heritage,
Midrash and biblical literary style compared with other narrative
styles, contemporary historiographic and hermeneutic criticism;
using Genesis 1-11 to illustrate these methods including stories
of the Creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden, Cain and Abel, the
genealogies and Distribution of the Nations, the story of the Flood
and the Tower of Babel.
3. The Convenant - tracing its literary presence in the creation story,
the Flood and Abraham: Abraham as ancestor of the Israelite and
4. The Akedah: its literary history, traditional interpretations; its
connections to the sacrificial cult; its centrality in the history
of the Temple Mount in Jersusalem.
5. Machpelah - the burial of Sarah; the ubiquity of narratives concerning
claim to the land of Canaan.
6. The story of Sodom and the code of hospitality.
7. The Jacob Tradition: Tribal history and legend.
8. The Rape of Dinah and the Levitical origins.
9. Judah and Tamar and the beginnings of the Judean Davidic traditions.
10. Joseph and the Northern Israelite traditions.
11. The Exodus Story: Testing the historical reality of the story; testing
the durability and thematic credibility of the story; miracles,
historiography and literary style; the figure of Moses: the nature
of prophecy and Yahwist understanding, the evolutionary reality of
the "Mosaic" traditions.
12. The Book of Joshua: the Tribes of Yahweh and the period of the
13. The Book of Judges: The period of the Settlement: Israel facing the
external threat of Canaanite and Philistine domination - Deborah as
prophetess and military leader; Israel facing the internal threat
of assimilation and acculturation - the story of Samson and Delilah.
14. The Monarchy: the tradition from Samuel to Saul with emphasis on
the literary characteristics of these figures as they interact; the
beginnings of prophetic criticism of the monarchy. The advent of
David, his rise and reign; The accession of Solomon and the
transformation of Israel from and agrarian, egalitarian, tribal
confederation to an urban, military aristocracy.
15. The monarchies of David and Solomon.
16. The divided kingdoms and the rise of the literary prophets: (Elijah),
Hosea, Amos and IIsaiah through the Assyrian invasion and the
destruction of Israel.
17. The nature and content of prophecy: Yahwist social criticism, the
18. The Deuteronomists and the reform of Josiah.
19. The Babylonian Exile.
20. Yahwism vs. Zoroastrian dualism.
21. II Isaiah and the coming of Cyrus and the Persian conquest.
23. Ezra, Nehemiah and the Restoration and the canonization of the Torah.
24. Yahwist Wisdom literature: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes,
Lamentations and the Song of Solomon.
NEW ENGLISH BIBLE (or its equivalent).
ANCIENT ISRAEL by H. Orlinsky, 2nd ed., Cornell Univ Press, 1960.
ATLAS OF BIBLE LANDS by Hammond, revised ed., Hammond, 1990.