Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)
Hayes (Christine)
Source: Open Yale Courses, 2007
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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.

Texts



Lecture List
  1. The Parts of the Whole
  2. The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Biblical Religion in Context
  3. The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Genesis 1-4 in Context
  4. Doublets and Contradictions, Seams and Sources: Genesis 5-11 and the Historical-Critical Method
  5. Critical Approaches to the Bible: Introduction to Genesis 12-50
  6. Biblical Narrative: The Stories of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12-36)
  7. Israel in Egypt: Moses and the Beginning of Yahwism (Genesis 37- Exodus 4)
  8. Exodus: From Egypt to Sinai (Exodus 5-24, 32; Numbers)
  9. The Priestly Legacy: Cult and Sacrifice, Purity and Holiness in Leviticus and Numbers
  10. Biblical Law: The Three Legal Corpora of JE (Exodus), P (Leviticus and Numbers) and D (Deuteronomy)
  11. On the Steps of Moab: Deuteronomy
  12. The Deuteronomistic History: Life in the Land (Joshua and Judges)
  13. The Deuteronomistic History: Prophets and Kings (1 and 2 Samuel)
  14. The Deuteronomistic History: Response to Catastrophe (1 and 2 Kings)
  15. Hebrew Prophecy: The Non-Literary Prophets
  16. Literary Prophecy: Amos
  17. Literary Prophecy: Hosea and Isaiah
  18. Literary Prophecy: Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum and Habbakuk
  19. Literary Prophecy: Perspectives on the Exile (Jeremiah, Ezekiel and 2 Isaiah)
  20. Responses to Suffering and Evil: Lamentations and Wisdom Literature
  21. Biblical Poetry: Psalms and Song of Songs
  22. The Restoration: 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah
  23. Visions of the End: Daniel and Apocalyptic Literature
  24. Alternative Visions: Esther, Ruth and Jonah
Lecture Abstracts and Associated Material
  1. Lecture 1. The Parts of the Whole: This lecture provides an introduction to the literature of the Hebrew Bible and its structure and contents. Common misconceptions about the Bible are dispelled: the Bible is a library of books from diverse times and places rather than a single, unified book; biblical narratives contain complex themes and realistic characters and are not "pious parables" about saintly persons; the Bible is a literarily sophisticated narrative not for children; the Bible is an account of the odyssey of a people rather than a book of theology; and finally, the Bible was written by many human contributors with diverse perspectives and viewpoints.
    Reading assignment:
    Jewish Study Bible [henceforth JSB]: Introduction to Genesis, pp. 8-11; Gen 1-4
  2. Lecture 2. The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Biblical Religion in Context: In this lecture, the Hebrew Bible is understood against the background of Ancient Near Eastern culture. Drawing from and critiquing the work of Yehezkel Kaufmann, the lecture compares the religion of the Hebrew Bible with the cultures of the Ancient Near East. Two models of development are discussed: an evolutionary model of development in which the Hebrew Bible is continuous with Ancient Near Eastern culture and a revolutionary model of development in which the Israelite religion is radically discontinuous with Ancient Near Eastern culture. At stake in this debate is whether the religion of the Hebrew Bible is really the religion of ancient Israel.
    Reading assignment:
    Bible: Introduction to Genesis (JSB pp. 8-11); Gen 1-4
    Pritchard, James, ed. "The Deluge," "The Creation Epic," and "The Epic of Gilgamesh." In The Ancient Near East, Volume 1. pp. 28-75
    Kaufmann, Yehezkel. The Religion of Israel. New York: Schocken, 1972. pp. 21-121
  3. Lecture 3. The Hebrew Bible in Its Ancient Near Eastern Setting: Genesis 1-4 in Context: In the first of a series of lectures on the book of Genesis, the basic elements of biblical monotheism are compared with Ancient Near Eastern texts to show a non-mythological, non-theogonic conception of the deity, a new conception of the purpose and meaning of human life, nature, magic and myth, sin and evil, ethics (including the universal moral law) and history. The two creation stories are explored and the work of Nahum Sarna is introduced.
    Reading assignment:
    Bible: Introduction to Genesis (JSB pp. 8-11); Gen 1-4
    Pritchard, James, ed. "The Deluge," "The Creation Epic," and "The Epic of Gilgamesh." In The Ancient Near East, Volume 1. pp. 28-75
    Kaufmann, Yehezkel. The Religion of Israel. New York: Schocken, 1972. pp. 21-121
  4. Lecture 4. Doublets and Contradictions, Seams and Sources: Genesis 5-11 and the Historical-Critical Method: This lecture continues the discussion on Genesis, including the familiar accounts of Cain and Abel, the Flood and Noahide covenant. The story of Cain and Abel expresses the notion of the God-endowed sanctity of human life and a "universal moral law" governing the world. Examination of the contradictions and doublets in the flood story leads to a discussion of the complex composition and authorship of the Pentateuch. These features as well as anachronisms challenge traditional religious convictions of Moses as the author of the first five books of the Bible.
    Reading assignment:
    Bible: Introduction to the Torah, (JSB pp. 1-7); Gen 5-11
    Habel, Norman. Literary Criticism of the Old Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971. pp. 1-42
    For Section Discussion :
    (1) Gen 1-3
    (2) Boyarin, Daniel. "Behold Israel According to the Flesh" and "Different Eves." In Carnal Israel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. pp. 31-46, 77-106
    (3) Pagels, Elaine. Adam, Eve and the Serpent. New York: Random House, 1988. pp. 57-77
    (4) Trible, Phyllis. "Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation." In JAAR 41. pp. 30-48
  5. Lecture 5. Critical Approaches to the Bible: Introduction to Genesis 12-50: This lecture introduces the modern critical study of the Bible, including source theories and Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis, as well as form criticism and tradition criticism. The main characteristics of each biblical source (J, E, P, and D) according to classic source theory are explained. This lecture also raises the question of the historical accuracy of the Bible and the relation of archaeology to the biblical record.
    Reading assignment:
    Bible: Introduction to the Torah, (JSB pp. 1-7); Gen 5-11
    Habel, Norman. Literary Criticism of the Old Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971. pp. 1-42
    For Section Discussion :
    (1) Gen 1-3
    (2) Boyarin, Daniel. "Behold Israel According to the Flesh" and "Different Eves." In Carnal Israel. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. pp. 31-46, 77-106
    (3) Pagels, Elaine. Adam, Eve and the Serpent. New York: Random House, 1988. pp. 57-77
    (4) Trible, Phyllis. "Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation." In JAAR 41. pp. 30-48
  6. Lecture 6. Biblical Narrative: The Stories of the Patriarchs (Genesis 12-36) : This lecture continues with a review of scholarly views on the historical accuracy of the Bible. The narratives of the patriarchs and matriarchs are introduced and the covenant between Abraham and God -- which ultimately leads to the formation of a nation -- is explained. Central themes of the patriarchal stories include: God's call to Abraham, God's promise of a blessed and fruitful nation, threats to this promise (including the story of the binding of Isaac for sacrifice). Finally, after a significant character transformation, the third patriarch Jacob becomes Yisrael ("he who struggles with God").
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Gen 12-Ex 4; Introduction to Exodus (JSB pp. 102-107)
    (2) "Historical and Geographical Background to the Bible" (JSB pp. 2048-2052)
    (3) "Inner-Biblical Interpretation" (JSB pp. 1829-1835)
    Goldstein, Rebecca. "Looking Back at Lot's Wife." In Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, eds., Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994. pp. 3-12
    For Section Discussion :
    (1) Gen 22
    (2) Auerbach, Eric. "Odysseus' Scar," In Mimesis. pp. 1-26
    (3) Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative, New York: Basic Books, 1981. pp. 3-22, 47-62, 178-189
    (4) Greenstein, Edward L. and Alex Preminger, eds. "The Binding of Isaac." In The Hebrew Bible in Literary Criticism. New York: Unger, 1986. pp. 261-270
  7. Lecture 7. Israel in Egypt: Moses and the Beginning of Yahwism (Genesis 37- Exodus 4) : The book of Genesis concludes with the story of Joseph and the descent of the 12 tribes into Egypt, setting the stage for the Exodus in which God is seen as redeemer and liberator. Moses is the first in a line of apostolic (messenger) prophets and Yahwism is initiated. Mark Smith's thesis describing the emergence of Israelite religion through a process of convergence and divergence is presented as an alternative to the evolutionary-revolutionary dichotomy presented in Lecture 2.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Gen 12-Ex 4; Introduction to Exodus (JSB pp. 102-107)
    (2) "Historical and Geographical Background to the Bible" (JSB pp. 2048-2052)
    (3) "Inner-Biblical Interpretation" (JSB pp. 1829-1835)
    Goldstein, Rebecca. "Looking Back at Lot's Wife." In Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, eds., Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994. pp. 3-12
    For Section Discussion :
    (1) Gen 22
    (2) Auerbach, Eric. "Odysseus' Scar." In Mimesis. pp. 1-26
    (3) Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York: Basic Books, 1981. pp. 3-22, 47-62, 178-189
    (4) Greenstein, Edward L. and Alex Preminger, eds. "The Binding of Isaac." In The Hebrew Bible in Literary Criticism. New York: Unger, 1986. pp. 261-270
  8. Lecture 8. Exodus: From Egypt to Sinai (Exodus 5-24, 32; Numbers) : This lecture traces the account of the Exodus (and the origin of the Passover festival as a historicization of older nature festivals) and Israel's liberation from bondage under Pharaoh. The story reaches its climax with the covenant concluded between God and Israel through Moses at Sinai. Drawing heavily on the work of Jon Levenson, the lecture examines Ancient Near Eastern parallels to the Sinaitic covenant and describes the divine-human relationship (an intersection of law and love) that the covenant seeks to express.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Ex 5-24, 32; Skim Ex 25-40 (construction of the sanctuary)
    (2) Introduction to Leviticus (JSB pp. 203-206). Skim Lev 1-8 (sacrificial system), 11-17 (dietary laws and impurity system)
    (3) Introduction to Numbers (JSB pp. 281-284); Num 11-14, 16, 19-20, 25
  9. Lecture 9. The Priestly Legacy: Cult and Sacrifice, Purity and Holiness in Leviticus and Numbers: In this lecture, the Priestly source (P) found primarily in Leviticus and Numbers is introduced. The symbolism of the sacrificial cult and purity system, the differences between moral and ritual impurity, as well as holiness and purity are explained within the Priestly context. The concept of holiness and imitatio dei, or human imitation of God, is explained.
    Reading assignment:
    "Concepts of Purity in the Bible" (JSB pp. 2041-2047)
    Milgrom, Jacob. "Israel's Sanctuary: The Priestly Picture of Dorian Gray." Reprint of Revue Biblique, 82:74-84
  10. Lecture 10. Biblical Law: The Three Legal Corpora of JE (Exodus), P (Leviticus and Numbers) and D (Deuteronomy) : This lecture introduces biblical law in a comparative approach that identifies similarities and differences between Israelite law and other Ancient Near Eastern legal traditions, such as the Code of Hammurabi. Distinctive features of Israelite law are explained as flowing from the claim of divine authorship.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Legal texts: Lev 18-20, 24:10-23, 25, Num 35, Deut 15, 17, 19, 22, 25
    (2) Narrative texts: Deut 1-14, 27-34
    (3) Introduction to Deuteronomy (JSB pp. 356-363)
    (4) "The Modern Study of the Bible" (JSB pp. 2084-96)
    Pritchard, James, ed. "The Laws of Eshnunna," and "The Code of Hammurabi." In The Ancient Near East, Volume 1. pp. 133-166
    Pritchard, James, ed. "Collections of Laws from Mesopotamia." In Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955. Sumerian Laws, Laws of Ur-Nammu, Laws of Lipit-Ishtar, Middle Assyrian Laws, Hittite Laws.
  11. Lecture 11. On the Steps of Moab: Deuteronomy: This lecture, focusing on Moses's final address to the Israelites and transfer of authority to Joshua, describes Moses as the paradigmatic leader of biblical tradition. The structure of Deuteronomy is then outlined. Attention is given to updated and revised laws within Deuteronomy which exemplify the activity of adaptive interpretation of earlier tradition. The main themes of Deuteronomy are presented and include the notion of God's chosen people and chosen city, social justice, covenantal love and the centralization of cultic worship.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Legal texts: Lev 18-20, 24:10-23, 25, Num 35, Deut 15, 17, 19, 22, 25
    (2) Narrative texts: Deut 1-14, 27-34
    (3) Introduction to Deuteronomy (JSB pp. 356-363)
    (4) "The Modern Study of the Bible" (JSB pp. 2084-96)
    Pritchard, James, ed. "The Laws of Eshnunna," and "The Code of Hammurabi." In The Ancient Near East, Volume 1. pp. 133-166
    Pritchard, James, ed. "Collections of Laws from Mesopotamia." In Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955. Sumerian Laws, Laws of Ur-Nammu, Laws of Lipit-Ishtar, Middle Assyrian Laws, Hittite Laws.
  12. Lecture 12. The Deuteronomistic History: Life in the Land (Joshua and Judges) : This lecture concludes the study of Deuteronomy and traces the contribution of the Deuteronomistic School: a historiosophy according to which Israel's fortunes are dependent upon and an indicator of her fidelity to the covenant. The books of the Former Prophets are introduced with attention to their historical and geographical context. The book of Joshua's account of Israel's conquest of Canaan is contrasted with scholarly accounts of Israel's emergence in Canaan and formation as a nation state.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Joshua (JSB pp. 462-464), Joshua 1-13, 20, 23-24
    (2) Introduction to Judges (JSB pp. 508-510), Judges 1-8, 13-16, 19-21
    (3) Introduction to the Prophets (JSB pp. 451-461)
    (4) "Early Nonrabbinic Interpretation" (JSB pp. 1835-1844)
    (5) "Midrash and Midrashic Interpretation" (JSB pp. 1863-1876)
    Selections from "Interpretation, History of" in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (pp. 424-427, 434-436)
    Reis, Pamela Tamarkin. "Spoiled Child: A Fresh Look at Jephthah's Daughter." In Reading the Lines: A Fresh Look at the Hebrew Bible Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002.
    Resources:
    "Palestine in the Time of Saul." Atlas of the Historical Geography of the Holy Land. Smith, George Adam. London, 1915. Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin
  13. Lecture 13. The Deuteronomistic History: Prophets and Kings (1 and 2 Samuel) : The transition from a tribal society under the leadership of elders and eventually charismatic "judges" to a nation under a monarch is traced through the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Samuel. Early stories of local heroes are woven together into a larger history that conforms to the exilic perspectives of the Deuteronomistic School. An extended look at representations of Saul and David (including God's covenant with David) reveal historical shifts and some ambivalence about monarchy and the ideal form of leadership.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Samuel (JSB pp. 558-61), 1 Sam, 2 Sam
    (2) Introduction to Kings (JSB pp. 668-71), 1 Kgs 3, 11-12, 16:29-19:21, 21-22; 2 Kgs 8:25-10:36, 17-25
    (3) "Historical and Geographical Background to the Bible" (JSB pp. 2052-2055)
    Sternberg, Meir. The Poetics of Biblical Narrative. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985. pp. 186-222
    Levinson, Deirdre. "The Psychopathology of King Saul." In Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, eds., Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994. pp. 123-141
    Ozick, Cynthia. "Hannah and Elkanah: Torah as the Matrix for Feminism." In Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, eds., Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994. pp. 88-93
  14. Lecture 14. The Deuteronomistic History: Response to Catastrophe (1 and 2 Kings) : The tension between covenant theology, emphasizing the conditional Mosaic convenant from Mt. Sinai, and royal theology emphasizing the unconditional covenant with David in his palace on Mt. Zion, is traced. Following Solomon's death, the united kingdom separated into a northern and a southern kingdom (named Israel and Judah respectively), the former falling to the Assyrians in 722 and the latter to the Babylonians in 586. Analysis of the Deuteronomistic School's response to these historical crises and subsequent exile to Babylonia is evidenced through redaction criticism.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Samuel (JSB pp. 558-61), 1 Sam, 2 Sam
    (2) Introduction to Kings (JSB pp. 668-71), 1 Kgs 3, 11-12, 16:29-19:21, 21-22; 2 Kgs 8:25-10:36, 17-25
    (3) "Historical and Geographical Background to the Bible" (JSB pp. 2052-2055)
    Sternberg, Meir. The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington; Indiana University Press, 1985), pp. 186-222
    Levinson, Deirdre. "The Psychopathology of King Saul." In Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, eds., Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994. pp. 123-141
    Ozick, Cynthia. "Hannah and Elkanah: Torah as the Matrix for Feminism." In Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, eds., Christina Buchmann and Celina Spiegel. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1994. pp. 88-93
  15. Lecture 15. Hebrew Prophecy: The Non-Literary Prophets: This lecture concludes the discussion of the Deuteronomistic historian's efforts to show that idolatry and associated sins lead to God's wrath and periods of trouble. The remainder of the lecture is an introduction to the phenomenon of Israelite prophecy which included ecstatic prophecy and prophetic guilds. The non-literary prophets of the historical books of the Bible and their various roles (as God's zealot; as conscience of the king) are examined.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to The Twelve (JSB pp. 1139-42)
    (2) Introduction to Amos (JSB pp. 1176-7), Amos 1-9
    Wilson, Robert R. "Biblical Prophecy." In The Encyclopedia of Religion, 12:14-23
  16. Lecture 16. Literary Prophecy: Amos: This lecture introduces the literary prophets of both the northern and southern kingdoms. The prophetic books are anthologies of oracles the sequence of which is often determined by literary rather than chronological considerations. This lecture studies the literary features and major themes of classical Israelite prophecy as evidenced in particular in the book of the eighth-century northern prophet Amos. The prophets denounced moral decay and false piety as directly responsible for the social injustice that outrages God. While the Deuteronomist blames the nation's misfortunes on acts of idolatry, the prophets stress that the nation will be punished for everyday incidents of immorality. The literary prophets counterbalance their warnings with messages of great hope and consolation.
    Reading assignment:
    Introduction to Amos (JSB pp. 1176-7), Amos 1-9
  17. Lecture 17. Literary Prophecy: Hosea and Isaiah: The lecture focuses on the eighth-century northern prophet Hosea, a linguistically difficult book set against the backdrop of the expansionist Assyrian Empire. Hosea's marriage symbolizes Israel's relationship with God and serves to remind Israel of God's forbearance and Israel's obligations and pledge to loyalty under the covenant at Sinai. The second half of the lecture shifts to Isaiah and his emphasis on the Davidic Covenant, rather than the Mosaic one, a key distinction between him and Hosea. Themes in Isaiah include the salvation of a remnant, Israel's election to a mission and an eschatology that centers around a "messiah" (anointed) king of the house of David.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Hosea (JSB pp. 1143-4), Hosea 1-14
    (2) Introduction to Isaiah (JSB pp. 780-784), Isaiah 1-12, 28-33, 36-39
  18. Lecture 18. Literary Prophecy: Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum and Habbakuk: Micah, eighth-century southern prophet and contemporary of Isaiah, is discussed. Structurally, the book of Micah alternates three prophecies of doom and destruction and three prophecies of hope and restoration. Micah attacks the doctrine of the inviolability of Zion and employs the literary form of a covenant lawsuit (or riv) in his denunciation of the nation. Several short prophetic books are also discussed: Zephaniah; the Book of Nahum, depicting the downfall of Assyria and distinguished for its vivid poetic style; and the book of Habbakuk, which contains philosophical musings on God's behavior. The final part of the lecture turns to the lengthy book of Jeremiah. A prophet at the time of the destruction and exile, Jeremiah predicted an end to the exile after 70 years and a new covenant that would be inscribed on the hearts of the nation.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Micah (JSB pp. 1205-6), Micah 1-7
    (2) Introduction to Nahum (JSB pp. 1219-20), Nahum 1-3
    (3) Introduction to Habbakuk (JSB pp. 1226-7), Habbakuk 1-3
    (4) Introduction to Zephaniah (JSB pp. 1234-5), Zephaniah 1-3
  19. Lecture 19. Literary Prophecy: Perspectives on the Exile (Jeremiah, Ezekiel and 2 Isaiah) : The destruction of Jerusalem challenged the faith of the nation. What was the meaning of this event and how could such tremendous evil and suffering be reconciled with the nature of God himself? Professor Hayes shows how Israel's prophets attempted to answer this question, turning the nation's defeat and despair into an occasion for renewing faith in Israel's God. The lecture continues with an in-depth study of the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel's denunciations of Jerusalem are among the most lurid and violent in the Bible and he concludes that destruction is the only possible remedy. Ezekiel's visions include God's withdrawal from Jerusalem to be with his people in exile, and his ultimate return. Ezekiel's use of dramatic prophetic signs, his rejection of collective divine punishment and assertion of individual responsibility are discussed. The last part of the lecture turns to Second Isaiah and the famous "servant songs" that find a universal significance in Israel's suffering.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Jeremiah (JSB pp 917-920), Jeremiah 1-8, 18-21, 23, 25-45, 52
    (2) Introduction to Ezekiel (JSB pp 1042-45), Ezekiel 1-5:4, 8-11, 16-18, 23, 28, 33, 36-37, 40, 47
    (3) Isaiah 40-42, 49-55
  20. Lecture 20. Responses to Suffering and Evil: Lamentations and Wisdom Literature: After a detailed explanation of the requirements for the paper assignment, Professor Hayes turns to the Writings - the third section of the Bible - and considers a recent approach to the study of the Bible, called canonical criticism. The books in this section of the Bible explore various questions associated with suffering and evil. An example is the book of Ecclesiastes which constitutes a second attack on the optimism and piety of conventional religious thinking. The lecture concludes with a discussion of a number of Psalms, their genre, purpose, and language.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Psalms (JSB pp. 1280-4), Psalms 1, 2, 8, 19, 21-24, 32, 37, 44-46, 49, 52, 55, 72-74, 78-80, 90, 93, 96-99, 103-106, 109, 110, 112, 114, 115, 118, 119, 128, 131, 136, 137, 139, 150
    (2) Introduction to The Song of Songs (JSB pp. 1564-1566), Song of Songs 1-8
  21. Lecture 21. Biblical Poetry: Psalms and Song of Songs: After a detailed explanation of the requirements for the paper assignment, Professor Hayes turns to the Writings - the third section of the Bible - and considers a recent approach to the study of the Bible, called canonical criticism. The books in this section of the Bible explore various questions associated with suffering and evil. An example is the book of Ecclesiastes which constitutes a second attack on the optimism and piety of conventional religious thinking. The lecture concludes with a discussion of a number of Psalms, their genre, purpose, and language.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Psalms (JSB pp. 1280-4), Psalms 1, 2, 8, 19, 21-24, 32, 37, 44-46, 49, 52, 55, 72-74, 78-80, 90, 93, 96-99, 103-106, 109, 110, 112, 114, 115, 118, 119, 128, 131, 136, 137, 139, 150
    (2) Introduction to The Song of Songs (JSB pp. 1564-1566), Song of Songs 1-8
  22. Lecture 22. The Restoration: 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah: This lecture continues the discussion of the psalms, and the genres and forms in which they appear, such as psalms of praise and thanksgiving, divine kingship, lament and petition, blessing and cursing, or wisdom. Another poetic book of the Bible is the Song of Songs, an erotic work the sexually explicit content of which has been piously reinterpreted over the centuries. The second half of the lecture turns to the period of the Restoration when the Judean exiles returned to what was now the province of Yehud under Cyrus, the Persian ruler. The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles refer to some of the events of this time as well as the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra and Nehemiah are said to renew the Mosaic covenant with the Torah at its center, and to institute a number of social and religious reforms (including a universal ban on intermarriage that will ultimately fail) in order to consolidate the struggling community.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Ezra and Introduction to Nehemiah (JSB pp. 1666-71 and 1688-9)
    (2) Ezra 1-10; Nehemiah 10, 13
    (3) "Reading Biblical Poetry" (JSB pp. 2097-2104)
    (4) "Historical and Geographical Background to the Bible" (JSB pp. 2055-2062)
  23. Lecture 23. Visions of the End: Daniel and Apocalyptic Literature: The Book of Ruth, in which a foreign woman enters the community of Israel and becomes great-grandmother to none other than King David, expresses a view of gentiles entirely opposed to that of Ezra and Nehemiah. Other prophets of the Restoration period are discussed, including Third Isaiah who also envisions other nations joining Israel in the worship of Yahweh. This period also sees the rise of apocalyptic literature in works like Zechariah, Joel and Daniel. Written during a period of persecution in the 2nd c. BCE the book of Daniel contains many features and themes of apocalyptic literature, including an eschatology according to which God dramatically intervenes in human history, destroying the wicked (understood as other nations) and saving the righteous (understood as Israel).
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Isaiah 56-66
    (2) Introduction to Joel (JSB pp. 1166-7), Joel 1-4
    (3) Introduction to Daniel (JSB pp. 1640-42), Daniel 1-12
  24. Lecture 24. Alternative Visions: Esther, Ruth and Jonah: In this lecture, two final books of the Bible are examined and their attitudes towards foreign nations compared. In contrast to Daniel's reliance on divine intervention to punish the wicked, the book of Esther focuses on human initiative in defeating the enemies of Israel. Finally, the book of Jonah - in which the wicked Assyrians repent and are spared divine punishment -- expresses the view that God is compassionate and concerned with all creation. Professor Hayes concludes the course with remarks regarding the dynamic and complex messages presented in the Hebrew Bible.
    Reading assignment:
    (1) Introduction to Esther (JSB pp. 1198-9), Esther 1-9
    (2) Introduction to Ruth (JSB pp. 1578-9), Ruth 1-4
    (3) Introduction to Jonah (JSB pp. 1623-5), Jonah 1-4
    (4) "The Religion of the Bible" (JSB pp. 2021-2040)
    "Apocalypses." In The Anchor Bible Dictionary (pp. 279-288)

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