Offered Fall 2017 on AST’s Campus and Online

Download the latest syllabus for each version of the course: AST Campus (Fall 2017, v 3.2.x) or Online (Fall 2017, v 3.2.x-i).

Required textbooks are listed and linked at the bottom of this page.

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Course Description

From the Academic Calendar: The First Testament of Christian Scripture, also called the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, is a fundamental part of Christian tradition and durable rule of faith and practice. Students in this course will therefore be introduced to historical and literary data important for understanding the origins of the Hebrew Bible and its subsequent function as Old Testament Scripture in a variety of cultural and religious contexts.

The broad sweep of biblical tradition will be presented through a survey of representative books from the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. To help foster an ecumenical outlook, primary readings from the Bible will be supplemented by case studies of classic Jewish and Christian readings of biblical texts. Students will develop their exegetical skills by studying these examples, and so learn to appreciate the diverse literary, canonical, cultural, historical, hermeneutical, and theological elements involved in biblical interpretation. In addition, the course will consider some ways that the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament can feature in the practice of ministry and in the spiritual practice of faith communities.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course students should be able to: name major Old Testament people and events; locate a few important biblical sites on a map; give key dates for Israel’s history and summarize the succession of superpowers in the Ancient Near Eastern political theatre from Egypt to Greece; recognize and cite examples of most genres of biblical literature; understand the general shape of the Masoretic Text tradition and differentiate it from other canonical orders; report on parallel and divergent material across the Law and the Prophets, such as the uses of the Divine Name or the rationales for sabbath observance; classify a variety of ancient and modern approaches to the Bible, including traditional “plain sense” and figural reading strategies as well as historical criticism and its legacy.

Students should also be able to identify settings in which the Scriptures of Israel are read (notably the synagogue, church, and academy), employ terminology appropriate to these communities, recognize where their own biographies place them in relation to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and its uses, and monitor and test their individual attitudes and assumptions. They should be able to extend their awareness of the Bible’s contemporary readers to the Bible’s long history of reception. Finally, students should begin to infer what Jesus meant in speaking of “the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms” (Luke 24:44), and so learn to hear claims about New Testament fulfilment of scripture in light of the unique voice that the Old Testament retains along side of the New in Christian Scripture.

Required Textbooks

The following texts are required (Fall 2017).* Students are strongly encouraged to purchase their own copies. Library copies that are not reference works have been placed on a 2-hour reserve at AST.

Michael D. Coogan, ed. New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: NRSV. 4th ed. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Buy on or
Joel Kaminsky and Joel Lohr. The Hebrew Bible for Beginners: A Jewish and Christian Introduction. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015.
Buy on or
Abraham J. Heschel. The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951 (repr. 2005).
Buy on or
St Irenaeus of Lyons. On the Apostolic Preaching. Trans. John Behr. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997.
Buy on or

An acceptable alternative study Bible is the NJPS: Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds., The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition (Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press, 2014). A reference copy is available in the library, and it is well worth consulting. You may also buy on or

*Please note that textbook selections for my courses often change with each iteration of the course.