Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)

Open Yale


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This course examines the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) as an expression of the religious life and thought of ancient Israel, and a foundational document of Western civilization. A wide range of methodologies, including source criticism and the historical-critical school, tradition criticism, redaction criticism, and literary and canonical approaches are applied to the study and interpretation of the Bible. Special emphasis is placed on the Bible against the backdrop of its historical and cultural setting in the Ancient Near East.

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What you'll learn on the course

Biblical Religion in Context
Literary Prophecy
Biblical Poetry: Psalms and Song of Songs

Course programme

Lecture 1The Parts of the WholeLecture 2The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Biblical Religion in ContextLecture 3The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Genesis 1-4 in ContextLecture 4Doublets and Contradictions, Seams and Sources: Genesis 5-11 and the Historical-Critical MethodLecture 5Critical Approaches to the Bible: Introduction to Genesis 12-50Lecture 6Biblical Narrative: The Stories of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12-36)Lecture 7Israel in Egypt: Moses and the Beginning of Yahwism (Genesis 37- Exodus 4)Lecture 8Exodus: From Egypt to Sinai (Exodus 5-24, 32; Numbers)Lecture 9The Priestly Legacy: Cult and Sacrifice, Purity and Holiness in Leviticus and NumbersLecture 10Biblical Law: The Three Legal Corpora of JE (Exodus), P (Leviticus and Numbers) and D (Deuteronomy)Lecture 11On the Steps of Moab: DeuteronomyExam 1Midterm ExamLecture 12The Deuteronomistic History: Life in the Land (Joshua and Judges)Lecture 13The Deuteronomistic History: Prophets and Kings (1 and 2 Samuel)Lecture 14The Deuteronomistic History: Response to Catastrophe (1 and 2 Kings)Lecture 15Hebrew Prophecy: The Non-Literary ProphetsLecture 16Literary Prophecy: AmosLecture 17Literary Prophecy: Hosea and IsaiahLecture 18Literary Prophecy: Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum and HabbakukLecture 19Literary Prophecy: Perspectives on the Exile (Jeremiah, Ezekiel and 2nd Isaiah)Lecture 20Responses to Suffering and Evil: Lamentations and Wisdom LiteratureLecture 21Biblical Poetry: Psalms and Song of SongsLecture 22The Restoration: 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and NehemiahLecture 23Visions of the End: Daniel and Apocalyptic LiteratureLecture 24Alternative Visions: Esther, Ruth, and Jonah