Courses

Religions and History of Ancient Israel

Fall RELG 302 Literature of Ancient Israel covers the history of Ancient Israel and the various socio-political and religious institutions which existed there c.1000-586 BCE. No prior knowledge of the subject is required. Student are introduced to historical and literary methods of interpretation and become acquainted with the primary literary sources of Ancient Israel and the surrounding civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia in translation. Specifically, students gain an understanding of (i) the institution and concept of monarchy as it existed in the Ancient Near East and Israel; (ii) the roles and functions of the temple in Jerusalem and sacrificial systems in Ancient Israel; (iii) the role and function of prophecy and prophetic oracles; (iv) the wisdom tradition and Israel’s intellectual inheritance.A great deal of time and effort is devoted to reading and interpreting the Biblical text. The student will become aware of the many textual and literary problems associated with using ancient texts in reconstructing the histories of ancient civilizations and will become familiar with historico-critical methods of biblical interpretation. Theological concerns will be addressed throughout the course, although these will be primarily historical rather than contemporary in nature.

2018 Fall RELG 390 Elementary Biblical Hebrew Learning a BIblical language is dificult but the rewards are many not leeast being able to read this ancient text of more tahn 2500 years in its original language. The text we will use is The Cambridge Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Paperback with CD-ROMby L. Webster. A mixture of inductive and deductive methods are employed to suit different learning styles. Students will learn the Hebrew alphabet, pronunciation, and the basics of the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of the language of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Emphasis will be on both morphology and syntax, and the student will begin to read Biblical senteces from the second week on.

2018 Fall / 2017 Winter RELG 407 The Writings Where will wisdom be found? This course will attempt to answer this question through a close reading of some of the wisdom material found in the Hebrew bible and other Ancient Near Eastern religious texts. The primary focus of study however, will be the biblical book of Job, in translation. Hence, the seminar has come to be known as The Job Seminar.  As this is an advanced seminar in the Biblical area students are required to have taken at least one course in the history of Ancient Israel/Hebrew Bible before registering for this course, or permission of the instructor.  All texts will be in translation and therefore no knowledge of biblical Hebrew is required.

Our approach throughout is a critical approach which will look at both the historical critical issues of Biblical wisdom texts and the theology of these texts. As this is a course given within the B.Th. program, due concern and consideration will be given to the contemporary theological relevance of the Book of Job. (This has sometimes resulted in the more colloquial naming of the seminar as The Sufferer’s Seminar)

RELG 314 Adultery, Seduction and Yearning: Biblical images and Metaphors for faith and its Abandonment
Biblical language is intimate and uncompromising when portraying relationships between the creator and the creation. Frequently the passion contained within such writings have either been overlooked and or interpreted metaphorically by both Synagogue and Church tradition.
We examine how the ancient Israelite tradition came to depict relationships between Divinity and mortal in such highly eroticized terms as well as to examine at least some of the subsequent interpretations of these ancient writings in both Judaism and Christianity.
Specifically, this course will examine the writings of the Books of the Prophets Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, The Song of Songs and The Book of Proverbs 1-9.
It is also therefore a course on the various reading strategies available to the critical reader of biblical texts. The approach is primarily historico-critical with an emphasis on literary and stylistic analyses of the biblical text in English translation.

RELG 313 Ancient Israelite Literature in Ancient and Modern Contexts: This course will cover the history of Ancient Israel and the various socio-political and religious institutions which existed there c.1000-164 BCE. No prior knowledge of the subject is required. The student will be introduced to historical and literary methods of interpretation and will become acquainted with the primary literary sources of Ancient Israel and the surrounding civilizations in translation. Specifically, the student will gain an understanding of (i) the institution and concept of monarchy as it existed in the Ancient Near East and Israel; (ii) the role and function of the temple in Jerusalem; (iii) the role and function of the prophets; (iv) the wisdom tradition and Israel’s intellectual inheritance.
A great deal of time will be devoted to reading and interpreting the Biblical text. Indeed the major part of this course will be given over to this task. The student will become aware of the many textual and literary problems associated with using ancient texts in reconstructing the histories and ancient civilizations. Theological concerns will be addressed throughout the course, from both an historical and contemporary perspective.

RELG 479: Christianity in Global Perspective:  Varied expressions of Christianity as a global religion with a particular focus on Asia, Africa and Latin America.

From its beginnings the Christian movement has been an evolving global phenomenon. Since the early modern era the global distribution, and ethnic and denominational composition of Christianity have been changing dramatically. The growth of the Christian movement in Africa, Asia and Latin America, accompanied by contested processes of secularization in the West, means that historians and scholars of religion, and Christian leaders, are re-examining a number of assumptions in order to account for the evolving transformations of Christianity as a world religion. This course will invite students to critically engage the contemporary processes through which Christianity is becoming predominantly, once again, a non- or supra-western religious tradition.

The course begins with a thematic discussion of three core problematics: 1) Christian mission and the emergence of non-Western forms of Christianity;  2) the rise and global expansion of Pentecostal/charismatic forms of Christianity;  3) the emergence of transnational faith-based social justice movements. These thematic discussions are followed by more in-depth explorations of their distinctive variations in specific regional forms of global Christianity in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Fall & Winter RELG 491&492 Advanced Biblical Hebrew A selection of narrative texts is read in RELG491 and in RELG 492 poetry and prophetic texts from second Isaiah. Required, One full year of Formal Biblical Hebrew

Graduate Seminars

RELG 520 Biblical Theology Area study reserved for S.T.M. students. In 2016 we will launch opur new S.T.M. program at the School of Religious Studies. Check out the web site for the School for more information.

RELG 555 Archaeology of Ancient Israel This course includes a practicum at the site of Tel Dan. Those wanting 3 credits for the course must agree to remain for a minimum of two weeks. There are no pre-requisites although it is highly recommended that students take RELG 202 or 302 or 303. This course will provide the student of the Ancient Near East with firsthand experience of an archaeological dig in Israel. This experience will be supplemented by readings which will focus on the development of what has come to be known as the ‘New Archaeology’ and its later developments of ‘processual’ and now ‘postprocessual’ approaches.

RELG 605 Interpreters of Ancient Israel (Download the Poster for RELG 605)

2016/2017- Metaphor, Myth, and Symbol: This seminar will apply different close readings to passages from Genesis 1-11 in order to focus on understandings of Metaphor, Myth and Symbol and the hermeneutical problems presented by each of these. The seminar is open to all graduate students interested in the hermeneutical questions associated with these literary categories. Only those graduate students who are registered in the field of Hebrew Bible will be expected to use the MT. All other students will use the text in translation. We will put in to practice what Nietzsche called “the incomparable art of reading well.” This will include various approaches to the text including historical, literary, philosophical, anthropological and theological. By recognizing the many diverse methods of interpretation we will better understand Wittgenstein’s statement that, “it is possible to be interested in a phenomenon in a variety of ways.”

2014/2015- History, Historiography, and History Writing: This seminar focuses on matters related to ancient history writing and historiography as they concern attempts to reconstruct the history of ancient Israel. Students will be required to study texts in translation (students in the Biblical Area will be required to use the original Hebrew and or Aramaic and or Greek where appropriate for their essay) which will illustrate the various difficulties the ancient historian is faced with when trying to determine whether or not a text reveals historical or literary information about the period it purports to be writing about. The issues of assuming oral precursors to the written documents will be discussed and critically evaluated. Theoretical and philosophical discussions about the nature of history, historiography and history writing in the modern and ancient contexts will be discussed in relation to the works of various contemporary historians of ancient Israel and other periods.

Although this seminar is open to all Graduate student members of the University, students should be aware that due to expertise only the written traditions of ancient and early Judaisms (including those of the New Testament) will be permitted as the focus of student research papers.

RELG 607 Studies in the Biblical Narrative Tradition
The seminar looks at the various interpretative traditions of certain narrative portions of the Hebrew Bible. In the recent past it has looked at Genesis 1-3. This particular block of material offers some of the most interesting problems in the Hebrew Bible, ranging from historical critical issues, literary interpretative problems to theological issues found in both the Jewish and Christian traditions.
Different readings of the text are associated with some of the larger questions pertaining to the contemporary issues of hermeneutics and the Biblical text.