1OT 301 Introduction to the Old Testament New Brunswick Theological Seminary: St. John’s Fall 2009 Tuesday Evening 6:20PM – 10:00PM
“The lesson of truth is not held in one consciousness. It explodes toward the other. To study well, to read well, to listen well, is already to speak: whether by asking questions and, in so doing, touching the master who teaches you, or by teaching a third party.” --Emmanuel Levinas “Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures” (1994)


Rev. Charles Rix Phone: (848) 218-2454, E-mail: CharlesRix@gmail.com Office Hours: Tuesday by appointment Introduction to the Old Testament is a required course in Biblical Studies. Its purpose is to provide students with the historical and theological foundations for the study, teaching, and preaching of the Old Testament in a parish setting. An introductory course will not answer all questions. Its focus is on where to begin your work and is a foundation on which you will build for the rest of your ministry.

Course Objectives:
⇒ To outline the historical and cultural circumstances in which the Old

Testament was written, read, and canonized. To have a reasonable grasp on both content and forms of the literature that comprises the Old Testament and thereby articulate the theological perspectives of the Old Testament and understand the variety of expressions included within it. ⇒ To understand what it means to “read ethically.” To begin to think about how the Old Testament addresses the issue of theodicy: the justice of God.
⇒ To describe the major issues in Old Testament study and to learn how the

theological traditions of the Old Testament inform today’s church traditions.
⇒ To gain skill in applying methods of Biblical criticism to the exegesis of Old

Testament texts, and in so doing engaging scholarly resources.



Required Course Materials
New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV). Conrad Hyers, "And God Created Laughter: The Bible as Divine Comedy" David M. Gunn and Danna Nolan Fewell, "Narrative in the Hebrew Bible" William Millar, "Priesthood in Ancient Israel" David Pleins, "The Social Visions of the Hebrew Bible" Marvin A. Sweeney, "The Prophetic Literature" Walter Brueggemann, "The Psalms and the Life of Faith" J. Maxwell Miller and John H. Hayes, "A History of Ancient Israel and Judah" Jonathan Magonet, A Rabbi Reads the Bible

Secondary Course Materials (Selections from these resources will either be in handouts or posted on
the class blog)
 Levinas, Emmanuel. Difficult Freedom. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1990.  Linafelt, Tod. Strange Fire: Reading the Bible after the Holocaust. New York:

New York

University Press, 2000.

 Miller, Patrick. “The Theological Significance of Poetry” in Language, Theology and The Bible

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994, 213-230
 Phillips, Gary and Danna Nolan Fewell. “Ethics, Bible, Reading As If” in

Semeia 77 Bible and the Ethics of Reading pp. 1-20.

Other Recommended Readings and Reference Materials for Term Papers
 Stone, Ken. Sex, Honor and Power in the Deuteronomistic History. Sheffield:

Sheffield Academic 1978.

Press, 1996.

 Trible, Phyllis. God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Philadelphia: Fortress Press,


3  Trible, Phyllis. Texts of Terror. Fortress Press, 1984.  Westermann, Claus. Genesis: An Introduction. Philadelphia: Fortress Press,


Course Expectations:
1. We will approach the biblical text, the secondary readings, the instructor, and each other with open minds. Be considerate of your classmates even when opinions and analyses differ from your own. 2. Be prepared for lecture and discussions. Note the seminary attendance policy: missing more than 3 classes (i.e. when you miss the fourth class) you will be automatically dropped from the course. 3. Turn in all of your assignments on time. Papers or blog postings turned in late will receive a one point deduction for every day late up to one week. After one week past due, the paper will not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made.

A. Applying the Old Testament Study to Current Ministry Life Each week, one (or more) persons will be assigned to make a creative 10 minute presentation to the class on one aspect of how the Old Testament text(s) prepared for that week either inform or relate to your current place of ministry or desired place of ministry. You may also choose to share a piece of music or artwork that relates to your text. The goal is to think through how the week’s study is relevant to ministry life and can be useful for those to whom you minister. The assignment will be 10% of your grade. B. Blogging Assignments: http://hebrewbible21.blogspot.com
Each week you be asked to read an article posted on the class blog and post a short comment. Your responses will form a key part of our class discussion. C. Term Paper Choose from ONE of the following texts to research throughout the semester. Genesis 4:1-16 Exodus 32:1-35 and Deuteronomy 9:7-10:5 Leviticus 10:1-17 Numbers 12:1-16 Deuteronomy 14 Isaiah 58:1-14



Amos 5:18-24 Psalm 1, 25, 73, or 137 As we go through the semester you will be introduced to key Old Testament concepts such as the justice of God (theodicy), God’s steadfast love, peace, righteousness, and justice. Your assignment is to use class discussions, readings, and other research materials to demonstrate how these passages address one or more of these concepts. Guidance will be given on how to do this as the class progresses. Your term paper should be about 2500 words in length. The paper should include a clear thesis statement, at least 6 sources from approved critical commentaries and journal articles, footnotes and a complete bibliography (Use Turabian for stylistic questions). Approved commentaries are: Anchor Bible, Berit Olam, Hermeneia, Interpretation, Interpreters, Jewish Publication Society (JPS), New International Commentary, Westminster Bible Companion, or Word. For any commentary not listed here, please contact the professor prior to your research. Note: you may not use Matthew Henry, Barclay, or any pulpit commentary series. If you have any questions, please contact the professor.

D. “Content Quizzes” and Examinations:
1) Content quizzes will be given at the beginning of each class on the Biblical material, class notes, and readings covered in the previous class period. 2) A Mid-term exam will be given covering class readings, course content, and biblical text material. The Mid-term exam will be given in two parts. One part will be a series of short answer essays that will be handed out prior to Reading Week (10/2-10/27) and be due at the beginning of class on 11/3. The in-class portion will be multiple choice/objective and be given at the start of class on 11/3. 3) The final exam will be a take-home series of three essays on three different Biblical texts and will be posted on Blackboard The exam is due on December 15th and cannot be turned in after that date. Writing quality essays requires that you have a grasp of all primary and secondary reading and are able to apply what you have read to understanding and illuminating the Biblical Text. Do not wait until the last minute to begin writing the exam as you will not be able to complete it time.

Summary of Assignments, Percent of Grade, and Due Dates



Assignment Applying OT to Ministry Life Blog posts Content Quizzes Mid-Term Exam (2 parts: take home essay and multiple choice in class) Final Exam Essays (take-home)

Due Date As Assigned Each Week Each Week November 3 December 15 Each Week

Percent of Grade 10 20 20 20 20 10 100

Class Participation TOTAL

Course Schedule
September 1: INTRODUCTION to the Course and the Study of the Old Testament: A Framework informing our course study, and a review of critical thinking required for Old Testament study. First Session: Getting to know the expectations of the course, the professor, and each other.
 Why is this text here? A beginning framework for the study of Old Testament: a very broad,

historical, literary and theological overview.
 Learning to ask questions, think critically, and read carefully: What is at stake in reading the Old

Testament / Hebrew Bible?
 Introduction to biblical studies at the graduate level.

Second Session: Starting to think about Creation Accounts and Issues of Origins?  Class Work: Read Genesis 1 and 2 and make a list of differences you encounter in both the content, language, style, terminology and message between the two accounts of creation: Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Genesis 2:4b-2:25.



Reading the Text Carefully and Ethically…
 What is the theological significance of the following notions in Genesis 1-2?  In beginning, not, in “the” beginning  The concept of a “blessing” on creation  God creating men and women in God’s own image  The creation is good, but it is not good for the human to be alone  What is theologically significant in the difference between how God is portrayed in Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a and Genesis 2:4b – 2:25?  What are key differences between how creation is described in the two accounts?  Why do you think the writers and redactors of the Old Testament juxtaposed these two accounts of creation?  Can a case be made for treating Genesis 1-2 as one unified account?  What might have been going on in the milieu of Israel’s writers that would generate the telling of the creation according to Genesis 1-2?  Given the above questions, what, in your mind, constitutes responsible and ethical preaching of Genesis 1-2? What about unethical and irresponsible uses of Genesis 1-2?



September 8 In (the) Beginning…. Due:
• •

Blog Post on “Reading as if” by Gary Philips and Danna Nolan Fewell Blog Post on “The Humor of God” by Conrad Heyers

Quiz First Session: Genesis 1 and 2 Preparation:  Read: “The Enuma Elish” web site: http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/enuma.htm  Make a list of similarities and differences you find between the Genesis 1-2 accounts of creation and the Enuma Elish. Be prepared to discuss in class.  Conrad Heyers, And God Created Laughter, Prologue and Chapter 1  Magonet, A Rabbi Reads the Bible, Chapters 2,3,5,7  Gary Philips and Danna Nolan Fewell, “Reading as if” in Semeia 77 (on class blog) Second Session: Genesis 3-11 – A fall? A flood? A tower? Why these accounts? Preparation:  Read Genesis 3-11  Magonet, Chapter 9

Be Prepared to Discuss
 The Humor of God  Does Genesis 3 describe a “fall” or an “awakening”?  What is the Biblical reason that the man was driven from the garden (note carefully the wording of the text)? What insights does Magonet bring to a reading of Genesis 3?  Note carefully the characters (who is present, who speaks, who does not speak) in the story of Cain and Able in Genesis 4:1-16. What is theologically significant about God’s interaction with Cain, both before and after the murder?  Note the escalation of violence in Genesis 4-9. What is the purpose of the bow that God puts down in the sky?  How does an understanding of Ancient Near Eastern creation accounts better inform our reading of Genesis 1-11?



September 15th Palestine and Israel in its ancient Near Eastern Context Due:
• •

Blog Post: “The Character of YHWH” informed by your reading of Gunn and Fewell (See below) Blog Post: “Documentary Hypothesis” (See below)

Quiz First Session: Geography and the Ancient Near Eastern context Preparation:  Miller and Hayes, Chapters 1-3 Second Session: Biblical Criticism and the Work of Exegesis Preparation:  Gunn and Fewell, Narrative in the Hebrew Bible, Chapters 1-3.  Umberto Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch (on-line). http://books.google.com/books?isbn=9657052351

Be Prepared to Discuss
 In broad and general terms, how did the geography of Ancient Israel impact its history?  Describe briefly what people groups in the Ancient Near East had an influence on the development of the nation of Israel?  What key archeological evidence that shows Israel existed as a nation in Palestine?  The names of God, YHWH and Elohim



September 22nd Mothers and Fathers: Israel’s First Families. Due:
• •

Blog Post: “A Religion for Adults” in Emmanuel Levinas’ Difficult Freedom Research: Provide a brief written explanation of the terms listed below in the “Discussion Box” (Recommendation: Use the Anchor Bible Dictionary or

Quiz First Session: Genesis 12-50 Preparation:  Genesis, 11:27-50:26  Gunn and Fewell, Chapter 4 Second Session: Reading for the Other Preparation:  Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom, pp. 11-26.  Gunn and Fewell, Chapter 9

Be Prepared to Discuss
    What is theologically significant about the call of Abraham in Genesis 12? What are the ethical issues raised by the story of Sarah, Hagar, Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael? What ethical issues are raised in the “Akkedah” or the “Binding of Isaac” in Genesis 22? What ethical issues are raised in the story of God, Abraham, Lot, Lot’s wife, his family, and the inhabitants of Sodom in Genesis 18-19?

 What does Levinas mean by “A Religion for Adults”? How does Levinas define what it

means to “know God”?  What is “Torah” and how does Genesis exemplify what Torah is about?  What does it mean to “read for the Other”? Who is the Other in the texts you have read so far in this course?
 Research and Define the Following Terms

      

TANAK Targum Midrash Talmud Torah Gemara Akkedah



September 29th Exodus: The Theological Beginnings Of A Nation Due: • Blog post: “Are You Saved” informed by your reading of Magonet’s chapter

Content Quiz First Session: The Meaning of the Exodus Preparation:  The Book of Exodus  Numbers 11-20  Magonet, A Rabbi Reads the Bible, Chapter 10  Pleins, The Social Visions of the Hebrew Bible, Chapter 1-2, 4. Second Session: Law and Justice

Be Prepared to Discuss
 What are the various archeological, historical, and sociological perspectives on the Exodus?  What is the distinction between Exodus as History and History in Exodus? Know the distinction between the “history of the text” and the “history in the text” and the “text as history.”  What are the major divisions in the book of Exodus?  Look carefully at how women are portrayed in Exodus and how women function.  What is the overall attitude of Exodus towards ethnic groups and diversity?  What is the theological significance of how YHWH characterized in the book of Exodus?  What are some key ethical issues raised in the Decalogue (Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17) and the giving of the Law at Sinai in Exodus 32-34?  The relationship between Law and Justice and the function of the Ten Commandments in creating an ordered society.  What ethical issues does Magonet raise about the issue of deliverance and salvation?  From the perspective of Exodus, what does it mean “to be saved”?



October 6th Biblical Law Due:  Blog post: “Who is the Other?” informed by your reading from Ajzenstat Content Quiz First Session: Humor in the Bible  Heyers, Chapter 3,5,7-8 Second Session: Biblical Law and The Ethics of the Decalogue Preparation:  Leviticus 19  Exodus 20:1-17  Magonet, Chapters 11, 13-14  Ajzenstat: “Beyond Totality: The Shoah and the Biblical Ethics of Emmanuel Levinas” in Strange Fire, Tod Linafelt, ed. pp. 106-120.

To Be Discussed in Class
According to Magonet, what is the inner logic of the Decalogue? What are the categories of Biblical law as outlined by Alt? List other forms and categories of Biblical laws. What kinds of social concerns do Biblical laws tend to address? What kind of a society do Biblical laws tend to presuppose? Describe the priestly social vision for law as outlined by Pleins? How does Jesus appropriate the Holiness Code in Leviticus 19 for his discussion with the Young Ruler in the New Testament (see scriptures above)?  How would you describe the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas? What is of utmost importance in the philosophy of Levinas?  What is a “totality” and why are they dangerous? Can you think of some examples of totalities and how they function?       



October 13th Israel in the Land: History and Social/Religious Order Due:  Blog post: “The Deuteronomic History” as informed by your reading of Pleins  Research: Provide a brief written explanation terms in the “Discussion Box’ Content Quiz First Session: Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History Preparation (focus texts):  Pleins, Chapter 3  Deuteronomy through 2 Kings, paying particular attention for this week to  Deuteronomy 5-26 (Focus texts: Deut 5-10)  Judges 2:10-23  I Samuel 7 and 12  II Samuel 7  I Kings 8  2 Kings 17  2 Kings 25 Second Session: Emergence in the Land Preparation:  Read the entire book Judges (However, pay particular attention to these texts: Judges 2-3, 10-11, 17-19)  Miller and Hayes, Chapter 4-5

Questions for Reflection Papers
 What are the key differences between the account of the Decalogue in Exodus (20) and Deuteornomy (5)?  What is the vision for Deuteronomic law as set forth in Deuteronomy 28-30?  Compare and contrast the account of the giving of the law at Sinai in Exodus 32 and Deuteronomy 9-10.  Who is Martin Noth, and what is the Deuteronomistic History (DTR)?  What do we mean by a “double redaction” of the Deuteronomistic History?  What likely gave rise to the composition and redaction of the DTR?  Define the following terms terms:  Tetrateuch  Pentateuch  Hexateuch  How is the Deuteronomic History shaped by passages such as Deuteronomy 30, Judges 2:1023, I Samuel 7 and 12, II Samuel 7, and 2 Kings 25?  What is the Deuteronomic cycle that is set forth in Judges 2:10-23? How do you see this cycle evolving as we move through the book of Judges.



October 20th and 27th: Reading Week, no class meetings November 3rd The Divided Monarchy and Introduction to the Prophets No Blog post due Mid-Term Exam First Session: Solomon and Sons Preparation:  1 and 2 Kings  Miller and Hayes, Chapters 6-11 Second Session: The Priesthood in Ancient Israel  Millar, the Priesthood in Ancient Israel, Chapters 1-5  Lecture on the Priesthood November 10th Isaiah – Domination, Exile, Return Due:  Blog Post: “The Ending of the Deuteronomic History” Quiz First Session: Prophetic Books, Isaiah of Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom Preparation:  Isaiah 1-39, review 2 Kings 15-20  Miller and Hayes, Chapters 12-15  Marvin Sweeny, The Prophetic Literature, Chapter 1-2, 6 Second Session: Second and Third Isaiah Preparation:  Isaiah 40-66  Pleins, Chapter 6

Be Prepared to Discuss
 What evidence of unity do you see from a reading of Isaiah?

 In First Isaiah 1-11 what are the main social and political issues facing Judah?  Become familiar with the “Servant Songs” in second Isaiah 40-55 in the context of exile. Who is the servant from an Isaiah context?  In the post-exilic context Isaiah 56-66, what are the primary social issues facing the return community? Note especially Isaiah 58.



November 17th Prophets and the Prophetic Voice Special Class on Amos

Assignment for This Week!!
 After reading the book of Amos, take a turn at writing your own “prophetic” message to your church, following the message of Amos. Be prepared to share this with the class as a means of discussion on how to make the prophets relevant to our congregations today.

November 24th NO CLASS: SBL/Thanksgiving December 1th The Psalms Due  Blog post: “The Theological Significance of Poetry” informed by your reading of Patrick Miller’s article (see below) Quiz First Session: Introduction to the Psalter Preparation:  Psalm 1, 25, 73, 90, 136-138, 150  Brueggemann, The Psalms and the Life of Faith, Chapter 3-5, 10 Second Session: Theological Significance of Poetry Preparation:  Miller, Patrick. “The Theological Significance of Poetry” in Language, Theology and The Bible (posted on the blog)

Questions for Reflection Paper
 How does metaphor function, and what is the theological significance of metaphor/poetry in

the Bible?  What are potential impacts of combining music and poetry in individual and communal worship experiences?  What are matters of “life and death” in the study and use of Psalms, both inside and outside of communities of faith? What about issues of theodicy?  The overall message of the Psalms. How does the Psalter function theologically?  How will we ethically approach fundamental concepts in the Psalms of “good” and “evil”, the “righteous” and the “wicked” (see Psalm 1).

14  Observations on the structure of the Psalter in its final form  Form criticism in the Psalms: A help or a hindrance to interpretation?  The Dynamics of Parallelism: Why is it theologically significant?


December 8th Wisdom Literature Job and Issues of Theodicy No Blog Post Quiz First Session: Introduction to Israelite Wisdom / Job Preparation:  The Book of Job Second Session: Issues of Theodicy and Post-Holocaust Hermeneutics (lecture / presentation)

December 15th Final Exams


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