Religion & Philosophy at Lyon College

Throughout the semester the syllabus will be subject to periodic revision. Students should check the syllabus on-line at least once a week.


Old Testament


MWF 9:00-9:50 a.m.
Lyon 206

Paul Custodio Bube, Ph.D.

Fall, 2016


Office Hours: Lyon 321

MWF 10 a.m.-noon

TR 8:30-9:20

or by appointment

Phone: 870-307-7351



Required Texts (there are three texts):


Laffey, Alice -- An Introduction to the Old Testament: A Feminist Perspective


The HarperCollins Study Bible


Barry Bandstra -- Reading the Old Testament (fourth edition)  


[Accessing the companion website: The web site is Follow the directions for registering and when it asks for an access code, you need to use the one that came with your book. Professor Bandstra has also made available free podcasts that read the first 13 chapters of the book at




Honor Code

All graded work in this class is to be pledged in accordance with the Lyon College Honor Code. The use of a phone for any reason during the course of an exam is considered an honor code violation.



Class Attendance

Policy 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 Students who are administratively withdrawn from more than one course will be placed on probation or suspended. Attendance and participation are graded, and they will alsoenhance the student's ability to do well on exams. Late assignments, quizzes, and exams will be graded down five points for each calendar day late.



Students seeking reasonable accommodations based on documented learning disabilities must contact the Provost at 870-307-7332.


Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct

Title IX and Lyon’s policy prohibit harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct. Lyon encourages anyone experiencing harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct to talk to Clarinda Foote, Title IX Coordinator, or Patrick Mulick, Dean of Students and Title IX Investigator, about what happened so they can get the support they need and Lyon can respond appropriately. Lyon is legally obligated to respond to reports of sexual misconduct, and therefore we cannot guarantee the confidentiality of a report, unless made to a confidential resource (Chaplain, Counselor, or Nurse). As a faculty member, I am required to report possible Title IX violations and must provide our Title IX coordinator with all relevant details. I cannot, therefore, guarantee confidentiality.



Is it important to study the Bible, particularly 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 methods (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)


Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will:

bulletRead and become familiar with representative concepts, theories, and
methods in Old Testament studies
bulletDemonstrate critical thinking by identifying strengths and weaknesses of
diverse positions in Old Testament interpretation and studies
bulletDemonstrate inquiry and analysis and writing skills by engaging in basic
critical research about an assigned Old Testament passage
bulletTake 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 an analysis of an assigned Old Testament passage (see Passage Analysis 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 general 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 writing assignments. However, the actual written work on quizzes and exams, and writing assignments, etc., is to be done by the student her/himself and pledged in accordance with the Lyon College Honor Code. Be sure to write "pledged" and your name on any work submitted.


PASSAGE ANALYSIS: 20% of a student's grade is based upon a 1000-1500 word paper that discusses the following aspects of a passage chosen from the list at

bulletThe historical context of the passage (when it was written, by whom, where, for whom, and generally what was going on at the time the passage was written)
bulletThe literary context of the passage (its place in the larger work where it is found, the type of literature in general it represents, such as poem, aphorism, etc., the meaning of key words in their original language and context, does the passage make use directly or indirectly of other sacred writings, etc.)
bulletThe meaning of the passage in light of the previous points.
bulletA concluding paragraph (maximum) of the student’s view about the passage’s meaning for today. In other words, in light of the previous points, how might this passage be applied to our time and context?


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 (if it is available in Schoology) 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 Schoology. 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 Schoology at 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:




Content Quizzes










Passage Analysis


Final Exam


Grading Scale: A=90-100; B=80-89; C=70-79; D=60-69; F=0-59



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 marked "Portfolio") in which you save your passage analysis any other written assignments 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 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.


Course Outline


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.



Week 1-2 (Aug, 17-26) [Aug. 24 is last day to add a class]:



Bandstra 1-33

Laffey 1-4


Complete content quiz #1 on "Reading the Bible" by 8:00 a.m. August 22.

Complete content quiz #2 on "Prologue to the Torah" 8:00 a.m. August 24.


Click here for lecture recording 8/17 [Right click to save to your computer]

Click here for lecture recording 8/19

Click here for lecture recording 8/22

Click here for lecture recording 8/26

bullet For an overview of types and reading levels of English translations of the Bible go to



Week 3-4 (Aug. 29-Sept. 9) [Aug. 29 is the last day to declare a course pass/fail and last day to drop without record of course]:



Genesis 1-5

Bandstra 34-76

Laffey 7-27


Complete content Quiz #3 on "Chapter 1 Genesis 1-11" by 8:00 a.m., Aug. 29.


Click here for lecture recording 8/29

Click here for lecture recording 8/31

Click here for lecture recording 9/2



Enuma Elish summary in Schoology for Sept. 5


Click here for lecture recording 9/5

Click here for lecture recording 9/7

Click here for lecture recording 9/9


Due by Sept 10 (11:59 p.m.) -- First exam (objective). See questions on the study guide as well as the questions from the Bandstra website. Go to Schoology to take exam.

Due by Sept. 12 (11:59 p.m.) – Second Exam (essay). This exam is made up of essay questions overlapping the material covered on the objective exam. The exam question will be found in Schoology under the "Examinations & Quizzes" link, and must be completed there.


Week 5 (Sept. 12-Sept. 16)


Genesis 6-11

"Utnapishtim" from the Epic of Gilgamesh (in Schoology, go to the Supplemental Reading and Resources Folder; download the document and read it for Sept. 14)


Click here for lecture recording 9/12

Click here for lecture recording 9/14

Click here for lecture recording 9/16


Week 6-8 (Sept. 19-Oct. 7):


Genesis 12-50

Bandstra 77-113

Laffey 27-46


Complete content Quiz #4 on "Chapter 2 Genesis 12-50" by 8:00 a.m. Sept. 21.


Click here for lecture recording 9/19

Click here for lecture recording 9/21

Click here for lecture recording 9/23

Click here for lecture recording 9/26

Click here for lecture recording 9/28

Click here for lecture recording 10/3

Click here for lecture recording 10/5

Click here for lecture recording 10/7



Due by Oct. 8 (11:59 p.m.)-- Exam over Genesis 6-50 (click here for study questions). Go to Schoology to take the exam. [Note: this exam includes both objective and essay questions.]


Week 9-10 (Oct. 10-17):


Exodus 1-24 & 32-34

Bandstra 114-147

Laffey 46-55


[FALL BREAK -- October 13-14]


Complete content Quiz #5 on "Chapter 3 Exodus" by 8:00 a.m., Oct. 10.


Click here for lecture recording 10/10

Click here for lecture recording 10/12

Click here for lecture recording 10/17



October 19 is Service Day -- please volunteer


Week 9 (Oct. 21-24):


2 Kings 22-23; Leviticus 17-26

Bandstra 148-183


Content Quizzes #6 & #7:

Complete BOTH content quizzes on "Chapter 4 Leviticus and Numbers" and "Chapter 5 Deuteronomy" by 8:00 a.m., Oct. 24.


Oct. 21 -- go to the Library to work on your paper

Click here for lecture recording


Due by Oct. 25 (11:59 p.m.) – Fourth Exam (see Bandstra website for study guide questions and click here for additional study questions). Go to Schoology to take the exam.




Wee 10 (Oct. 26-Oct. 28)


Joshua 1-12; Judges 1-5 & 11 & 13-16

Bandstra 186-238

Laffey 85-93


Complete content quiz #8 on Joshua by 8:00 a.m., Oct. 26.

Complete content quiz #9 on Judges by 8:00 a.m., Oct. 28.


Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording



Week 11 (Oct.31 – Nov. 4)


I Sam. 1-17; II Sam. 1-8

Bandstra 239-259

Laffey 105-108, 118-122 & 124-126


Complete content quiz #10 by 8:00 a.m., Oct. 31


Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording


Week 12 (Nov. 7-Nov. 14):


Amos & Hosea

Bandstra 282-310

Laffey 167-171


Content Quiz #11: Complete content quiz on Amos & Hosea by 8:00 a.m., Nov. 6.


Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording



Week 13-14 (Nov. 16-21):


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 8:00 a.m., Nov. 16

Complete content quiz #13 on "Chapter 13 Psalms" by 8:00 a.m., Nov. 18

Complete content quiz #14 on "Chapter 15 Five Scrolls" by 8:00 a.m., Nov. 21


Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording


November 23-27 is Thanksgiving Holiday. 



Week 15 (Nov. 28-Dec. 2):



Bandstra 397-417


Content Quiz #15: Complete content quiz on "Chapter 14 Proverbs and Job" by 8:00 a.m., Nov. 28.


Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording

Click here for lecture recording


FINAL EXAM: TBA. click here for study guide

[Approximately 3/4 of the exam will be over the last 5 weeks and 1/4 will be comprehensive]


© 2012-16 Paul Custodio Bube