Course Syllabus

Instructor: Amy Erickson, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible

 Image result for chagall moses

Course Description: This course introduces students to important themes in the Hebrew Bible, including creation, identity and ethnicity, history and memory, power, violence and war, hope, justice, and the nature of God and the gods. The course also covers the historical development of the literature, religion, and culture of ancient Israel, and methods and interpretive strategies for understanding ancient texts.

“To be sure, the Bible never was easy reading; and the finest interpretation cannot and should not make it so. Whatever one wrote in ancient Israel, it was not for speed-reading…Reading the Bible has always demanded that one be prepared for contemplation.”   

   --Gerhard von Rad, “How to Read the Old Testament,” in idem, God at Work in Israel (trans. John H. Marks; Nashville: Abingdon, 1980 [German orig.: 1974]),10, 18.

Required Texts

1. The Bible (NRSV)

Any study bible is fine as long as the translation is NRSV (New Revised Standard Version). Here are a few I recommend:

-The Peoples’ Bible: New Revised Standard Version With the Apocrypha. Edited by Curtiss Paul DeYoung, et al. Fortress, 2008.

-HarperCollins Study BibleStudent Edition: Fully Revised & Updated. Edited by Harold W. Attridge, et al. Society of Biblical Literature; HarperOne, 2006. ISBN-10: 0060786841 | ISBN-13: 978-0060786847

-The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version. Edited by Michael Coogan, Marc Brettler, et al. Oxford University Press, 2018.

-The New Interpreter's Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version With the Apocrypha. Edited by Walter Harrelson. Abingdon Press, 2003.

2. Coogan, Michael. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Second Edition. (note: a third edition is available, but I prefer the second edition). ISBN-10: 0199830118 | ISBN-13: 978-0199830114 | Edition: 2

3. Wilda C. Gafney, Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.

4. Brown, Michael Joseph. What They Don’t Tell You: A Survivor’s Guide to Biblical Studies. Louisville: Westminster Knox, 2011 or 2000 (either version is fine). ISBN-10: 066422220X • ISBN-13: 978-0664222208

*Note: I’ll be asking you to read Michael Brown’s book prior to the first class session


Matthews, Victor Harold, and Don Carlos Benjamin. Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East. Revised and Expanded Third Version. Mahwah, N.J: Paulist Press, 2007 (I believe this one is available in e-book form through the library). • ISBN-10: 0809144352 • ISBN-13: 978-0809144358

Book List 


Course Goals and Objectives

Discussion Guidelines

Late Work

Course Summary:

Date Details Due