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REL 130 Exam 1 Study Guide

September 26, 2019


Be able to define or describe the following terms in a sentence or two and/or highlight two or three key points (such as might be included in a multiple-choice or matching-type question).

ExegesisCanonical CriticismNamingEndogamyPriestly Benediction
EisegesisLiterary CriticismCircumcisionIsraelKorah
YahwehEtiologyBinding of Isaac SojournMeribah
PentateuchEpic of GilgameshConcubineYam Suph Kadesh-Barnea
Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP)HabiruHermeneuticsMount Sinai Shema
Textual CriticismSagaHermeneutics of SuspicionDecalogue Centralizaton of Cult
Source CriticismType SceneBirthrightApodicticRewards and Punishments
Form CriticismCovenantBlessingCasuistic
Redaction CriticismTheophanyPrimogenitureBook of the Covenant

Points to Ponder

Be able to discuss the following issues in a brief essay.

  1. How do people read the Bible? What is the relationship between the personal, communal, and academic perspectives on the Bible? What are some of the common scholarly methods of approaching the Bible from an academic perspective?
  2. Be able to describe the Documentary Hypothesis in general terms. What are J, E, D, and P? What phenomena in the text of the Pentateuch have led most scholars to embrace the Documentary Hypothesis?
  3. What are some of the key differences between Genesis 1 (P) and Genesis 2 (J)? How do the early chapters of Genesis reflect awareness of and engagement with the worldview(s) the Hebrews shared with the cultures around them?
  4. How does Genesis 3–11 advance the theme of “crime and punishment”? What pattern(s) can be seen in how these narratives progress?
  5. Trace the struggle of Abraham and Sarah to have an child. What obstacles did they face? How do the concepts of “covenant” and “promise” figure into this struggle?
  6. What is “the binding of Isaac”? How has this event been interpreted in both Jewish and Christian tradition? What does this episode reveal about the faith of Abraham?
  7. Describe some of the questions or insights that may arise from reading the Bible from a feminine point of view. What is “feminist hermeneutics”? Give some examples from the patriarchal narratives of how one might read the Bible from a feminist perspective.
  8. What are the key turning points in the life of Jacob? What was his relationship with his family of origin? With his wives? Where do we see development in his character?
  9. How do Israel’s fortunes change from the end of Genesis through the first chapter of Exodus? How do the biblical writers depict the Israelites and their Egyptian overlords? What theological questions are raised by the exodus story?
  10. Describe the development of the legal materials of the Pentateuch. Be able to define Decalogue, Book of the Covenant, and Holiness Code. What is the difference between an apodictic law and a casuistic one?
  11. Discuss Israel’s wilderness wanderings as described in the book of Numbers. What theological themes predominate in this portion of Scripture?
  12. What features set Deuteronomy apart from the previous books of the Pentateuch? What are the main themes that run through this document?

Format of the Exam

Part I. Thirty-five multiple-choice questions worth four points each, based on the key terms listed above and assigned Scripture readings (140 points).

Part II. One essay question (60 points). You will have a choice between two of the following questions:

  1. Discuss the Documentary Hypothesis as an answer to the question, “Who wrote the Pentateuch?” What details in the biblical text led scholars to develop this theory? What can be said both for and against this interpretation of the texts?
  2. Summarize the biblical account of the life of Abraham or Jacob. What are the major themes and turning points in this patriarch’s story? What is his role in the unfolding story of God’s relationship with the patriarchal family?
  3. Discuss feminist perspectives on the interpretation of the Bible. Specifically, what strategies have feminists used in addressing biblical stories that have been used to subjugate women? Use biblical examples of your choosing to illustrate how these strategies might be employed.
  4. Trace the history of the exodus and wilderness wanderings as narrated in Exodus–Numbers. What are the key events in this story? Who are the important characters? Most important, what seems to be the message (or messages) of this narrative for later generations of Israelites?
  5. Provide a brief summary of the book of Deuteronomy. What can be said about its historical context and its place in the broader history of Israel? What are the book’s key themes? What features make Deuteronomy distinct from the other books of the Pentateuch?

Please bring your own paper on which to write your essay.



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