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Reading the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

DT1001

To enable students to achieve familiarity with, and be able to discuss and analyse the selected key texts below which cover the most essential aspects of the geography, history and writing of the Old Testament:

  • The Pentateuch (Gen. 1–11; Exodus 1–15; Deuteronomy)
  • The so-called deuteronomistic history (I and 2 Kings)
  • The so-called writing prophets (Amos, Hosea, Ezekiel, Deutero-Isaiah, Haggai and Zechariah 1–8)

Topics covered

  • Introducing the Hebrew scriptures
  • Torah
  • Deuteronomistic history and 1 and 2 Kings
  • Prophets in pre-exilic times
  • Prophets in exile
  • The return: Haggai and Zechariah

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Describe and discuss the texts from geographical, historical and literary perspectives
  • Describe and discuss the historical background and context that shape and structure the texts
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the texts’ diverse genres
  • Outline the composition and editorial process of the texts
  • Identify, describe and examine the essential teachings, messages and issues of the texts
  • Identify the influence of ideologies in the texts
  • Critically question biblical accounts, taking into account the nature of history and the sources available to the historian
  • Analyse and distinguish the literary patterns and forms in the texts
  • Show a developing ability to assess texts from geographical, historical and literary perspectives
  • Select and organise material from a range of sources
  • Conduct a detailed critical analysis of texts and ideologies and debate the issues in an open-minded and rigorous way
  • Produce clear, well-structured written work
  • Show some ability to manage their own learning, including working effectively to deadlines

Assessment

Three-hour examination

Indicative reading list

  • Topic 1: Introduction to the Study of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament

Reading 1: Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.1–23 (R4).

Reading 2: Barton, John. The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion. (Princeton: Princeton University, 2016) [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.1–23, 431–454 (NR2).

  • Topic 2: The Primeval History (Genesis 1–11)

Reading 1: Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.25–84 (R4).

Reading 2: Spieckermann, Hermann. ‘Creation: God and World’, in Barton, J. (ed) The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016), [ISBN 9781451484366] pp. 271-92 (R4).

  • Topic 3: The Pentateuch (Exodus 1–15 and Deuteronomy 1–11)

Reading 1: Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.109–124, 163–182 (R4).

Reading 2: Pachecco, Ronilso. ‘Black Theology in Brazil’, Cross Currents 67 (2017), pp.55-64. (R4).

  • Topic 4: The History of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1–2 Kings)

Reading 1: Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.109–124, 163–182 (R4).

Reading 2: Stavrakopoulou, Francesca. ‘The Historical Framework: Biblical and Scholarly Portrayals of the Past’, in Barton, J. (ed), The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion. (Princeton: Princeton University, 2016) [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.24–53 (NR2).

  • Topic 5: Eighth Century Prophets (Hosea and Amos)

Reading 1: Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.305–348 (R4).

Reading 2: Kratz, Reinhard G. ‘The Prophetic Literature’, in Barton, J. (ed), The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion. (Princeton: Princeton University, 2016) [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.133–159 (NR2).

  • Topic 6: Prophecy in an Age of Exile (Ezekiel and Deutero-Isaiah)

Reading 1: Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.349–416 (R4).

Reading 2: Middlemas, Jill A. ‘Exclusively Yahweh: Aniconism and Anthropomorphism in Ezekiel’, in Day, J. (ed) Prophecy and Prophets in Ancient Israel: Proceedings of the Oxford Old Testament Seminar. (London: T&T Clark, 2010), [978056760188] 309-24 (R4).

  • Topic 7: Post-Exilic Prophets (Haggai and Zechariah 1–8)

Reading 1:  Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.417–444 (R4).

Reading 2:  Kessler, John. The Book of Haggai: Prophecy and Society in Early Persian Yehud. (Leiden: Brill, 2002), [ 9789004276178] pp.259–279 (NR2).

  • Topic 8: Wisdom Literature (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes)

Reading 1: Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.507–546 (R4).

Reading 2: Grillo, Jennie. ‘The Wisdom Literature’, in Barton, J. (ed), The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion. (Princeton: Princeton University, 2016) [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.183-205 (NR2).

  • Topic 9: Biblical Songs (The Psalms, Lamentations and Song of Songs)

Reading 1: Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.483–506 (R4).

Reading 2: Gillingham, Susan. ‘The Psalms and Poems of the Hebrew Bible’, in Barton, J. (ed), The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion. (Princeton: Princeton University, 2016) [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.206–36 (NR2).

  • Topic 10: Historiography after the Exile (Ezra-Nehemiah)

Reading 1:  Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014) 2nd edition [ISBN 9781451484366], pp.449–482 (R4).

Reading 2: Boda, Mark J. ‘Reconsidering Exclusive Inclusivity: Perspectives from Zechariah and Ezra-Nehemiah’. Exclusivity and Inclusivity in Post-Monarchic Society and Literature: A Conversation on Dalit Rom-Shiloni’s Exclusive Inclusivity: Identity Conflicts between the Exiles and the People Who Remained (6th-5th Centuries BCE). Edited by Mark Leuchter. Journal of Hebrew Scripture 18. 2018. Available at http://www.jhsonline.org/Articles/article_237.pdf