Foto: Matthias Friel
In this course we shall study the relation between the biblical literature and history, within the part of the Tanakh called ‘The Prophets’ (Joshua – Malachi). In what sense is biblical literature historical, i.e., representing the past in a manner comparable to contemporary historical writng? We shall explore this question by studying examples from the Books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and Jeremiah. What are polemical narratives, and what role do they play in biblical historiography? Which foundation stories shape the literature? To what extent do theological agenda play a formative role in the master narrative (the Deuteronomistic Historiography)? How was the Book of Jeremiah written?
To contextualize our research we will first read about historiography in the ancient Near East, and, towards the end of our course, about the contemporary debate on the nature of historiography.
The course will be taught in English. The biblical text will be studied in English and Hebrew. Please come to class with a Bible/Tanakh. This course is partially based on lectures and therefore attendance and note taking is crucial. In addition to the Tanakh we will read scholarly texts in English. Students are expected to participate in class discussions based on the reading assignments. There will be some brief writing exercises and presentations. A five page final essay is to be submitted at the end of the course. The deadline for submission is final.
Proof of performance includes regular participation, reading the texts given for the weekly meetings and various written self-reflections. If students miss more than one fifth of the class the class counts as “not completed” and no credits can be given.
The course will introduce the student to the literary-critical and historical approaches to the Tanakh. Through close reading of the selected texts, the students will get to know the literary, critical, and historical methods of contemporary biblical scholarship. The larger picture that emerges will contribute to the understanding of the Hebrew Bible as a cultural text, with origins in antiquity, and potential significance in the present, if appropriated with an awareness of the critical issues explored in the course.
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