Course Description

The first words spoken by God at Sinai and the leading terms of a covenant sealed with blood, the Ten Commandments have been known as the preeminent instance of biblical law. Less well appreciated is the complex legal and cultic context that gave rise to multiple versions of the Decalogue in ancient Israel, as seen in Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, Exodus 34, and Leviticus 19.

This course examines the ancient origins of the Ten Commandments as a premier example of the Bible’s legal traditions. It also considers the weight that these laws have held for Jews, Christians, and others through an exploration of the Decalogue’s reception history, which includes modes of expression as diverse as liturgy, biblical commentary, fine art, film, and popular culture. Finally, with ample time to consider a commandment per week, the course invites students to reflect creatively on the ethical trajectory of the commandments, their place in contemporary religious life, and their stature in and beyond the Christian Church.

Requirements: Weekly readings, online discussions, a presentation, short and long papers. This course also includes an arts component worth 20% of the final grade.

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Required Texts (Winter 2018)

Braaten & Seitz
Carl E. Braaten and Christopher R. Seitz, eds. I Am the Lord Your God: Christian Reflections on the Ten Commandments. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005. ISBN 978-0802828125.
Buy on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
Coogan
Michael Coogan. The Ten Commandments: A Short History of an Ancient Text. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0300178715.
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Greenman & Larsen
Jeffrey P. Greenman and Timothy Larsen, eds. The Decalogue through the Centuries: From the Hebrew Scriptures to Benedict XVI. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2012. ISBN 978-0664234904.
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Miller
Patrick D. Miller. The Ten Commandments (Interpretation). Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009. ISBN 978-0664230555.
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Please note that textbook selections for my courses usually change with each iteration of the course.