Upon completion of this course the student will be able to:
1. Acquire the skills to read and discuss the biblical text with reasonable ease and comprehension.
2. Name the genre and describe the generic features of a passage from the Hebrew Bible.
3. Distinguish among the assumptions of traditional biblical interpretation 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 criticism.
5. Describe historical origins and redaction of biblical literature.
6. Distinguish the salient features of various biblical genres such as: myth, saga, genealogy, legal code, poetry, prophecy.
7. Discern the major literary and religious themes and recount their dynamic development.
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. Discuss the biblical text as the classical literature of an ancient people with sources in and shared cultural features with Mesopotamia, Egypt, Hatti and Canaan-Phoenicia, which has helped to shape the development of the western world.
1. Introduction to traditional understandings of the Hebrew scripture.
2. Modern methods of biblical research.
a. Documentary Theory
b. Comparative Near Eastern literature
c. The theory of the original matriarchy, the nature of patriarchy and its literary heritage
d. Midrash and biblical literary style compared with other narrative styles
e. Contemporary historiographic and hermeneutic criticism
3. The Convenant -- tracing its literary presence in the creation story.
a. The flood and Abraham
b. Abraham as ancestor of the Israelite and Ishmaelite traditions
4. The Akedah
a. Its literary history, traditional interpretations
b. Its connections to the sacrificial cult
c. Its centrality in the history of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
5. Machpelah -- the burial of Sarah and 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
a. Testing the historical reality of the story
b. Testing the durability and thematic credibility of the story
c. Miracles, historiography and literary style
d. The nature of prophecy and Yahwist understanding
e. The evolutionary reality of the "Mosaic" traditions
12. The Book of Joshua: the Tribes of Yahweh and the period of the conquest/rebellion.
13. The Book of Judges
a. The period of the Settlement
b. Israel facing the external threat of Canaanite and Philistine domination -- Deborah as prophetess and military leader
c. Israel facing the internal threat of assimilation and acculturation -- the story of Samson and Delilah
14. The Monarchy:
a. The tradition from Samuel to Saul with emphasis on the literary characteristics of these figures as they interact
b. The beginnings of prophetic criticism of the monarchy
c. The advent of David, his rise and reign
d. The accession of Solomon
e. The transformation of Israel from an 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 Isaiah through the Assyrian invasion and the destruction of Israel.
17. The nature and content of prophecy: Yahwist social criticism, the Yahwist hermeneutic.
18. The Deuteronomists and the reform of Josiah.
19. The Babylonian Exile.
20. Yahwism vs. Zoroastrian dualism.
21. Isaiah and the coming of Cyrus and the Persian conquest.
23. Ezra and Nehemiah--the restoration of Judah and the canonization of the Torah.
24. Yahwist Wisdom literature: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations and the Song of Solomon.
The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts. Finkelstein, Israel and Silberman, Neil Asher. Touchstone: 2002. (classic)
The Hebrew Bible: New Insights and Scholarship. Greenspahn, Frederick. New York University Press: 2008.
A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Collins, John J. Fortress Press: 2007.