Advanced Old Testament
Session 01: Sin and Flood
This session explores 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.
Session 03: Biblical Law
This session 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.
Session 03: Sacrifice, Purity & Holiness
In this session, the Priestly source (P) found primarily in Leviticus and Numbers is expored. 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.
Session 06: Literary Prophecy
Micah, eighth-century southern prophet and contemporary of Isaiah, is discussed. 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.
Session 08: The Restoration
This session continues the discussion of the psalms before turning 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.