Syllabus Update

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A sample syllabus--subject to change

Naomi Koltun-Fromm Spring 2008
Tuesday-Thursday 10-11:30 am

Office: Hall 104 Tel: 610-896-4975

The Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament, is fundamental to both Judaism and Christianity. But as a literary, historical and theological text, the Hebrew Bible poses a challenge to modern scholars. What is this book? Who wrote it? When? And why? What was its significance then? And now? How and why has this text influenced western culture? How does one study the Bible from an academic point of view, when it is so laden with religious symbolism and meaning for so many people? Using the literary, historical, theological, interpretative and archaeological tools available we will attempt to answer these questions and more.

This course will introduce the student to the fundamentals of academic bible studies. All students, of any background, are encouraged to participate. Sometimes, the less we know, the better we understand...

1. Michael Coogan, The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures
2. Bible: Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures. Preferred translation: the NRSV in the Liturgical press or Oxford editions. But any text you are willing to use as a textbook, that is, write in and take notes in is ok.
3. R. Friedman: Who Wrote the Bible?
4. Extra readings on Blackboard

1. Writing: two papers, one shorter one longer, and 7 response papers.
2. Class participation. All students are expected to come to class having carefully read all reading assignments and ready to participate in class discussion.
3) There will be extra assignments in tandem with the reading (questions to answer or class presentations, response papers, etc.)

Students who think they may need accommodations in this course because of the impact of a disability are encouraged to meet with me privately early in the semester. Students should also contact Rick Webb, Coordinator, Office of Disabilities Services (, 610-896-1290) to verify their eligibility for reasonable accommodations as soon as possible. Early contact will help to avoid unnecessary inconvenience and delays.

1. Jan 22 Introduction
2. Jan 24 Introduction
READ Coogan ch. 2, Friedman intro, chs.1-2
3. Jan 29 Who Wrote the Bible?
READ Friedman chs. 4-8
4. Jan 31 Who Wrote the Bible
READ Friedman chs.9-14
WRITE response paper (one page): Who wrote the bible? What are the consequences of accepting the Documentary Hypothesis for understanding the basic compositional history of the Hebrew Bible?
5. Feb 5 Genesis
READ OT/HB Genesis
WRITE response paper (1 page) What is Genesis about? What are its major themes and objectives?
6. Feb 7 Genesis
READ Coogan chs. 1, 3, 4, 5
7. Feb 12 Exodus
WRITE response paper: What is Exodus about? What are its major themes and objectives?
8. Feb 14 Exodus
READ Coogan chs. 6-8
9. Feb 19 Leviticus
READ OT/HB Leviticus
WRITE response paper: What is Leviticus about? What are its major themes and objectives?
10. Feb 21 Leviticus
READ Coogan ch. 9; Blackboard �Concepts of Purity in the Bible�; �Milgrom on dietary laws�
11. Feb 26 Numbers
READ OT/HB Numbers
WRITE response paper: What is Numbers about? What are its major themes and objectives?
12. Feb 28 Numbers
READ Coogan ch. 10
13. Mar 4 Deuteronomy
READ OT/HB Deuteronomy
WRITE response paper: What is Deuteronomy about? What are its major themes and objectives? How does it compare to the earlier four books?
14. Mar 6 Deuteronomy
READ Coogan ch 11, Blackboard Tigay�s �Introduction to JPS Deuteronomy�


15. Mar 18 Joshua
READ OT/HB Joshua and Coogan ch. 12

***PAPER assigned: write a five page paper which gives an in depth analysis of any of the following books: Joshua, Judges, 1 or 2 Samuel. Look for themes, literary drama, historical representations, theological depictions, etc. DUE Friday April 4th***

16. Mar 20 Judges (earliest archaeology)
READ OT/HB Judges and Coogan ch. 13
17. Mar 25 1 Samuel
READ OT/HB 1 Samuel; Coogan ch.14
18. Mar 27 2 Samuel
READ OT/HB 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-2, Psalm 132; Coogan ch. 15

**Sunday March 30th tentative trip to Penn Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology**

19. Apr 1 1 Kings (Solomon and Temple building)
READ OT/HB 1 Kings 1-11, Psalm 89; Coogan ch.16
20. Apr 3 Kings (divided kingdom)
READ OT/HB 1 Kings 12-2 Kings 14; Coogan ch.17

***PAPER Due Friday April 4th 4pm***

21. Apr 8 Kings (Northern Kingdom)
READ OT/HB 2 Kings 14-17, Amos, Hosea; Coogan ch.18
22. Apr 10 Kings ( Judah, Jerusalem and Hezekiah�s temple and water works)
READ OT/HB 2 Kings 15-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32, Isaiah 1-39; Coogan ch. 19
23. Apr 15 Kings (Judah in the 7th)
READ OT/HB 2 Kings 21-23, 2 Chron 33-35, Zephaniah, Nahum, Prayer of Manasseh; Coogan ch 20

**PAPER assigned: Write a 10 page research paper on a biblical book, theme or method of your choice. You can choose a book, theme or method which we have read or discussed or something new. Methods include literary analysis, historical analysis, and archaeological comparatives; themes can be religious or cultic practices, God and gods, gender issues, literary representations, etc. You should consult at least five secondary sources. Paper Due last day of exams.

24. Apr 17 2 Kings, Habakkuk, Jeremiah (more arch�the fall of Jerusalem)
READ OT/HB 2 Kings 23.31-25.30, 2 Chron 36, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and the letter of Jeremiah; Coogan ch. 21
25. Apr 22 of Kings and prophets
READ Blackboard �Religion of the Bible�
WRITE response paper: what is the theology of the books of the Kings? Themes? Motifs? Agenda? Who is more important�the prophets of the kings?
26. Apr 24 Exile, Return and Restoration
READ OT/HB Psalm 137, Obadiah, Ezra, Nehemiah (Ezekiel is optional); Coogan ch. 22-23
27. Apr 29 Psalms and Proverbs
READ OT/HB Psalms, Proverbs; Coogan ch. 27
28. May 1 Dissidents and lovers
READ OT/HB Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon; Coogan ch. 28

***Paper due last day of exams: May 16, noon (seniors May 10, 5pm)***