This course leads students through a detailed reading of the first five books of the Bible with a view to its theological, historical, and literary interpretation and significance. In order to equip students for interpreting these foundational books we will take into account critical matters & methodologies, ancient Near Eastern parallels and the canonical context of the books as the first scriptures in the canon. Matters of authorship, origin, sources used in its compilation, unity and complexity, structure and themes will be discussed. We will also focus on several questions throughout our study: How does Genesis 1–11 function as an introduction to the Pentateuchal narratives? What is the significance of the roles of Abraham and Moses in salvation history? What does the Pentateuch teach us about God’s Covenant(s) with humans? How did biblical laws function for ancient Israelites? What is the value of Old Testament law for Christians today? What is the role of ritual for ancient Israel? What can we learn theologically from the ritual sacrifices in the Pentateuch? How does Deuteronomy function as the conclusion to the Pentateuch but the introduction to the historical books? These questions will be explored in an effort to underscore the continuing relevance of the Pentateuch for Christian theology.
- To have a thorough knowledge of the contents and message of the Pentateuch
- To gain familiarity with the assumptions, methods and conclusions of modern critical scholarship on the Pentateuch
- To gain an appreciation of priestly ritual texts and their theological worth
- To gain an introductory knowledge of relevant Ancient Near Eastern Literature: One will read English translations of the most important extra-biblical documents for a proper understanding of the Pentateuch within its ancient Near Eastern context.
- To embrace the contemporary relevance of the Pentateuch for the Church today
- To embrace the origins of Israel as the beginnings of the Christian story
- To grow closer to God through study of the Pentateuch
- To be able to discuss the relation of Genesis 1-11 to ancient Near Eastern mythology and modern science
- To be able to discuss the role of Law in ancient Israelite society and its relevance for Christians today
- To be able to discuss the role of ritual in ancient Israelite society and its relevance for Christians today
- To be able to interpret the Pentateuch in its original context
- To be able to apply the message of the Pentateuch to contemporary audiences