Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)

About the Course

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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Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2006.

The Open Yale Courses Series

For more information about Professor Hayes’ book Introduction to the Bible, click here.

Course Materials

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About Professor Christine Hayes

Christine Hayes is the Robert F. and Patricia Ross Weis Professor of Religious Studies at Yale. She received her Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in 1993. A specialist in talmudic-midrashic studies, Hayes offers courses on the literature and history of the biblical and talmudic periods. She is the author of two scholarly books:Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds, recipient of the 1997 Salo Baron prize for a first book in Jewish thought and literature, and Intermarriage and Conversion from the Bible to the Talmud, a 2003 National Jewish Book Award finalist. She has also authored an undergraduate textbook and several journal articles.

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Syllabus

Professor

Christine Hayes, Robert F. and Patricia Ross Weis Professor of Religious Studies

Description

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

Berlin, Adele, and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds., Michael Fishbane, senior consulting editor. 2004. The Jewish Study Bible: Featuring the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pritchard, James B, ed. 1958. The Ancient Near East, Volume 1: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Requirements

(1) A midterm exam to be given in class on Monday, October 16.

(2) A paper (approximately 10 pp.) on a selected biblical passage.  The paper will develop an interpretation of the passage while comparing and critiquing a range of traditional and scholarly interpretations.  The paper is due at 3:00 pm on the last day of reading period (Thursday, December 14).  

(3) A final exam.  Exams will cover material from lectures and readings.

Grading

Midterm examination: 25% 
Paper: 25% 
Final examination: 40%
Discussion section attendance and participation: 10%

"Writing Intensive" students will have modified examinations and grade calculation will place greater emphasis on written assignments.

Sessions

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

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Course Books and Other Related Titles

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