Offered Online, Winter 2018

Course Description

As the first words spoken by God at Sinai and the leading terms of a covenant sealed with blood, the Ten Commandments are well 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.

Download the Syllabus (Winter 2018, v 3.0.x).

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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.
Order it in Canada or the USA.
Michael Coogan. The Ten Commandments: A Short History of an Ancient Text. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0300178715.
Order it in Canada or the USA.
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.
Order it in Canada or the USA.
Patrick D. Miller. The Ten Commandments (Interpretation). Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009. ISBN 978-0664230555.
Order it in Canada or the USA.

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

Making Sense
Margot Northey, Bradford A. Anderson, and Joel N. Lohr. Making Sense in Religious Studies: A Student’s Guide to Research and Writing. 3rd ed. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2019.
This title is optional but highly recommended. It includes basic advice on things like reading religious texts, writing essays and book reviews, making oral presentations, and learning languages. It should help you master fundamental tasks in nearly any course in religion or theology.
The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd Edition, is the definitive style manual for biblical studies and related disciplines.
A blog ( and free Student Supplement (PDF) should cover the issues most common to term papers. The AST library copy is in the reference section at PN 147 S26 2014.
Serious students of biblical studies will want a copy of their own. Order one from SBL Press or elsewhere online. ISBN 978-1589839649.
See my resources page for further advice on writing, style, and research.

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