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REL 130 Exam 1 Study Guide


September 26, 2017


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).

Exegesis Canonical Criticism Naming Endogamy Priestly Benediction
Eisegesis Literary Criticism Circumcision Israel Korah
Yahweh Etiology Binding of Isaac  Sojourn Meribah
Elohim Utopia Androcentric Passover Balaam
Pentateuch Epic of Gilgamesh Concubine Yam Suph  Kadesh-Barnea
Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP) Habiru Hermeneutics Mount Sinai  Shema
Textual Criticism Saga Hermeneutics of Suspicion Decalogue  Centralizaton of Cult
Source Criticism Type Scene Birthright Apodictic Rewards and Punishments
Form Criticism Covenant Blessing Casuistic
Redaction Criticism Theophany Primogeniture Book 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 scholars to embrace the Documentary Hypothesis, and what criticisms have been leveled against it?
  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. Discuss the legal texts of the Pentateuch, with particular emphasis on the Decalogue (Exod 20), the Book of the Covenant (Exod 21–23), and the Holiness Code (Lev 17–26). How are we to approach this diverse collection of texts? How might persons of faith uncover personal relevance in these texts?

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



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