Throughout the semester the syllabus will be subject to periodic revision. Students should check the syllabus on-line at least once a week.
E-mail: Click on Mailbox to e-mail professor
Nature and Purpose of the Course:
Is it important to study the Bible, especially the Old Testament? If one is a Christian, why not just study the New Testament? If one is not a Christian, is there any value in studying any part of the Bible?
There's a good chance that among the members of this class, there are a variety of answers to these questions -- and probably additional questions -- that will be brought to the study of the Old Testament. Important goals of this course are to expand upon our answers and our questions, to stretch our imaginations as well as to enlarge our knowledge. We may even revise our answers and develop new questions along the way.
In practical terms this course provides an overview of representative sections of the Old Testament. We will read from a variety of books of the Old Testament in addition to portions of our text books. We will learn how to use several analytical tools (called "criticism" in biblical studies) to help us explore how to interpret the biblical texts. Some of these tools, such as feminist criticism, will seem controversial, but the aim with any tool we use, controversial or not, is to understand better what the Bible itself is saying. In other words, the tools are always just tools -- when used properly they help us to learn what a text in the Bible means.
Each of us brings to the course varying backgrounds and expectations about the Bible, in general, and the Old Testament, in particular. It is not the aim of the course either to convert the unbeliever nor to subvert the faith of the believer. However, it is the position of the Lyon College Program in Religion and Philosophy that faith and critical thinking are compatible and mutually enhance each other. Our ultimate goal is to learn to read biblical texts with at least as much care and intelligent analysis as we would read an ancient piece of literature, a historical document, a philosophical essay, or a legal contract. (By the way, all these sorts of writings can be found in the Old Testament.)
Although the aim of the course is neither to convert nor subvert, I think it is important for students to be aware of my "bias" as we begin our study together. As a Christian, I approach the biblical texts as documents of faith shared by Jews and Christians, and look upon these texts, along with the New Testament, as having a unique role in revealing the nature of God and how human beings are invited to respond to God. As a scholar, I have discovered that my faith has been enriched by the kind of study we will do in this course. My experience has been that the Truth revealed in the biblical texts is best apprehended when one critically examines them in the context of their original languages, social setting, and history. To do so means bracketing many theological assumptions in order to allow the texts to speak to us with the same sort of freshness as they did to their first readers. Thus, a guiding rule-of-thumb for reading and interpreting texts in this course is to ask, "How would the first readers of this text have understood it?"
As we begin this course, let me suggest a prayer, "For the Spirit of Truth," to guide all of us:
- From the cowardice that dares not face new truth,
- From the laziness that is contented with half truth,
- From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
- Good Lord, deliver me. (United Methodist Hymnal #597)
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will:
be familiar with representative concepts, theories, and methods in Old Testament studies
be able to identify strengths and weaknesses of diverse positions in Old Testament studies
be able to engage in basic research about an assigned Old Testament passage
take steps to integrate faith (broadly construed to include one's philosophy of life) and reason
Students will be expected to complete all reading assignments on time, attend all classes, take all quizzes and exams, and write 10 e-journals responding to questions found in the class schedule below. It is important for students to keep in mind that the college requires all students to pledge their own work in accordance with the Lyon College Honor Code. If students have questions about what constitutes plagiarism, they should read the MLA Handbook’s discussion of plagiarism and consult with someone in the writing lab or with me prior to turning in the paper. Students may find it helpful to make an appointment with the someone in the Writing Center for advice on writing their papers.
CELL PHONES, COMPUTERS, AND OTHER ELECTRONICS: Cell phones should either be turned off or put on silent or vibrate in class. They should be put away and not visible. Texting during class is not permitted. If you are awaiting an emergency call, then you should sit near the class entrance, and when your phone vibrates, you should quietly exit and take your call in the hallway out of earshot of the class. Students may use computers in class to keep notes only (unless directed otherwise by the professor). Listening to iPods or other mp3 or similar players is prohibited in class. Violation of these requirements will adversely affect your participation/ attendance grade for the class.
COLLABORATION: Students are welcome to help each other in preparing for exams (e.g., study groups) and exchanging ideas and advice on reports. However, the writing of the reports, actual written work on quizzes and exams, etc., are to be done by the student her/himselfand pledged in accordance with the Lyon College Honor Code. Be sure to write "pledged" on any work submitted, including e-journals.
E-JOURNALS (E-mail journals): The schedule below includes 10 questions that students are expected to respond to by e-mail. Look for the e-journal questions in a blue font. Each e-journal has a due date. If the e-journal is sent late, 5 points will be deducted from the grade for each day it is late. Each e-journal is graded on a 100 point scale, and each counts 2% of the student's final grade. Think of the e-journals as short essays: they will be graded on thoughtfulness and clarity. Grammar and spelling can affect one's grade. When you send your first e-journal, I will respond with an e-mail that includes your e-journal below my comments. When you send your second e-journal, click "reply" to my e-mail and write your e-journal above my previous comments. I will e-mail my comments on the second e-journal with your previous e-journals (and my previous comments) below my new comments. The idea is that by the end of the semester, my last comments on your tenth e-journal will include the year's e-journal conversation between us.
CONTENT QUIZZES: 15% of your grade is made up of content quizzes over the readings from Reading the Old Testament. Each quiz has a due date -- prior to that due date, you may take the content quiz as often as you like in order to achieve a grade on the quiz that you are satisfied with. These quizzes are open-book and open-Bible quizzes. Whatever grade you have on the quiz at the time it is due, is the grade you will receive on the quiz. Note: Because the quizzes are open-book and can be retaken, there will be no extensions given beyond the due date listed in the syllabus and Educator. It is the student's responsibility to take them on time.
EXAMS: Exams are NOT open-book or open-note and may NOT be retaken. However, students may use an unmarked Bible on exams. The exams will also be taken on-line through Educator at https://online.lyon.edu . Each exam has a specific due date and time--there is no reason for late submissions. To avoid technical difficulties, it is recommended that students take the exam at least 2 hours before it is due.
Grades will be weighted as follows:
Attendance/Participation 10% Content Quizzes 15% Exam#1 5% Exam#2 10% Exam#3 10% Exam#4 10% E-mail Journals 20% Final Exam 20%
Grading Scale: A=90-100; B=80-89; C=70-79; D=60-69; F=0-59
Page 114 of the Lyon Catalog states: Students are expected to attend all class periods for the courses in which they are enrolled. They are responsible for conferring with individual professors regarding any missed assignments. Faculty members are to notify the Registrar when a student misses the equivalent of one, two, three, and four weeks of class periods in a single course. Under this policy, there is no distinction between “excused” and “unexcused” absences, except that a student may make up work missed during an excused absence. A reminder of the college’s attendance policy will be issued to the student at one week, a second reminder at two weeks, a warning at three weeks, and notification of administrative withdrawal and the assigning of an “F” grade at four weeks. Students who are administratively withdrawn from more than one course will be placed on probation or suspended (see Academic Probation and Academic Suspension).
Attendance and participation are graded, and they will also enhance the student's ability to do well on exams. Late assignments will be graded down five points for each calendar day late.
In keeping with Lyon College policy, students are expected to check their Lyon e-mail accounts daily. This is the primary way professors and college officials have to communicate with you. Students are accountable for information regarding due dates, assignments, exams, etc., that are sent through the Lyon e-mail system.
Although this is a freshman level course, I would like you to create electronically (e.g., a folder on your I-drive) a portfolio in which you save your e-journals and any other papers you may do in RPH courses. This will not be graded, but in the event you do take other RPH courses, Dr. Beck and I would like to be able to ‘see’ your progress and I hope you would want to reflect upon your work. Because RPH classes are so ‘holistic’ in their approach to human affairs, we both hope that what you write will be connected to your other academic work and to the choices you make in other dimensions of your lives. Those of you who are considering a major or minor in RPH are required to keep a portfolio. Making this a requirement in every class means that those of you who have not yet decided whether to major or minor will have the portfolios on-line and accessible, making it very easy to declare a major or minor (see catalog for requirements).
Please note: Students seeking reasonable accommodations based on documented learning disabilities should contact the Office of Academic Services at 870-307-7332.
There are links to slides (click on the week) that relate to the material being covered in class. These are useful in preparing for class discussions and in highlighting or complementing the readings. They may not be identical to slides used in class, so it is still important to take your own notes.
INTRODUCTION TO BASICS OF BIBLICAL STUDIES
|Read:||Bandstra 1-33||Laffey 1-4|
Click here for lecture recording [Right click to save to your
Click here for
Click here for
Click her for lecture
Click her for lecture
recording (only 2nd half recorded)
E-journal Question #2:
Using the idea of the three worlds of the Bible (Historical, Literary, &
Contemporary), briefly describe how those worlds apply to Genesis 1:1-2:4a.
Due Sept. 10, 10 p.m.
E-journal Question #2: Using the idea of the three worlds of the Bible (Historical, Literary, & Contemporary), briefly describe how those worlds apply to Genesis 1:1-2:4a. Due Sept. 10, 10 p.m.
|Due by Sept 12 (11:59 p.m.) -- First (objective) exam. See questions 1-10 on the study guide as well as the questions from the Bandstra website. Go to Educator to take exam.|
Week 5 (Sept. 15-Sept. 19)
|Read:||Genesis 6-11||"Utnapishtim" from the Epic of Gilgamesh (in Educator, go to Course Materials, then Epic of Gilgamesh, then Utnapishtim.doc; download the document and read it for class on Sept. 17)|
|Read:||Genesis 12-50||Bandstra 77-113||Laffey 27-46
- Content Quiz #4: Complete content quiz on "Chapter 2 Genesis 12-50" by 9:00 a.m. Sept. 22.
E-Journal Question #4: Reread Genesis 34, and look over what Laffey & Bandstra say about this passage. Then go to the library (see above) and look at what two other sources (from list at the end of this assignment) say about Gen. 34. In your e-journal summarize what you learned and what your view of the passage is and why. Be sure to include citations and references when appropriate. Due Oct. 6.
E-Journal Question #5: Throughout Genesis, YHWH is fairly consistent in favoring the oppressed, lowly, women, and underdog. Discuss what point the biblical texts is trying to convey about the nature of God and God's relationship to humankind. Due Oct. 13 (Monday after Fall Break).
|Read:||Exodus 1-24 & 32-34||Bandstra 114-147||Laffey 46-55
Week 9 (Oct. 22-24):
|Read:||2 Kings 22-23; Leviticus 17-26||Bandstra 148-183|
|Read:||Joshua 1-12; Judges 1-5 & 11 & 13-16||Bandstra 186-238||Laffey 85-93
Complete content quiz #8 on Joshua by 9:00 a.m., Oct. 27.
Complete content quiz #9 on Judges by 9:00 a.m., Oct. 29.
|Read:||I Sam. 1-17; II Sam. 1-8||Bandstra 239-259||Laffey
105-108, 118-122 & 124-126
|Read:||Amos & Hosea||Bandstra 282-310||Laffey 167-171
Content Quiz #11: Complete content quiz on Amos & Hosea by 9:00 a.m., Nov. 5.
|Read:||Psalms 1, 8, 22, 23, 39, 88, 119, 148-150; and Song of Songs||Bandstra 366-396; 418-437||Laffey 202-204
Content Quizzes #12 & #13 & #14:
Complete content quiz #12 on "Part Three Writings" by by 9:00 a.m., Nov. 17
Complete content quiz #13 on "Chapter 13 Psalms"
E-Journal Question #10: Pick one of the Psalms that were assigned (1, 8, 22, 23, 39, 88, 119, 148-150), then consult at least two of the sources listed for e-journal #4, and explain the historical, literary, and contemporary world of the psalm. Be sure to include references when appropriate. Due Nov. 21.
© 2012-14 Paul Custodio Bube