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REL 130 Syllabus

Dr. Darrell Pursiful Sect 005: TR12:15–1:30 pm
757-0564 x250 (office)
djpursiful [at] gmail [dot] com https://pursiful.com/classroom/

In REL 130, we’ll explore the literature of the Old Testament. In particular, we’ll try to get a handle on the history, literature, and faith of ancient Israel and see how those things are relevant today.

COURSE AIMS

Here are some things the REL department hopes you gain from this class:

  1. An understanding of the various writings of the Old Testament in terms of their respective literary genres, historical contexts and theological themes.
  2. Familiarity with biblical scholarship dealing with the literary and historical study of the Old Testament.
  3. Familiarity with the major periods in Israel’s ancient history.
  4. Familiarity with the major Old Testament characters.
  5. An understanding of the development of Israel’s faith.
  6. An understanding of the development of the canon of the Old Testament.
  7. An appreciation for the role of the Old Testament in the development of the Judeo-Christian tradition and its impact on western civilization.

REQUIRED TEXTS:

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha (Oxford University Press, 1991). This will be our main text.

Watson E. Mills, et al., Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990). This text will fill in some of the details and give an overview of the themes we’ll be covering.

GRADING CRITERIA:

Quizzes (100 points). There will be at least thirteen daily quizzes, which won’t be announced in advance. All the questions will come from the day’s assigned readings and the previous day’s discussion.

The good news is that only your top ten scores will count. The bad news is that there will be no make-up quizzes. At all. Period.

Group Activity (200 points). You’ll need to pick one of the following group activities. A sign-up sheet will go around the first couple weeks of class.

(1) Fishbowl 1. A Fishbowl is an unscripted conversation with some of your classmates, with a little bit of guidance from the professor as needed. The point is for the class to “overhear” your discussion and learn from it. The first Fishbowl will be on the topic of Women in the Patriarchal Narratives. Be sure to read the assigned readings very carefully and come prepared to share your questions and observations.

(2) Fishbowl 2. Same as above, but the topic will be the Prophet Elijah.

(3) Purim Play. The third option is a Purim play. Unlike Fishbowls, with this project you’ll need to work on this with other group members outside of class. I’m happy to come help, and I’ll even give you some samples you can build on.

Optional Paper (200 points). Terrified of speaking in front of the class? No problem! You can choose to write a paper instead. Most students should plan to write a character study of some Old Testament character such as Ruth or King David. If you’d like to do something more creative, just let me know.

Papers should be 5–7 pages long, double spaced, and cite at least three additional sources besides MDOB. Papers are due on the date of the Purim Play (see schedule).See Better Writing Requires FOCUS for help with writing better papers for this and every other class at Mercer University!

Exams (2 x 200 points). There will be two exams. The dates are on the syllabus. If you miss an exam, you’re probably in deep trouble, but I might be persuaded to give you a make-up in cases of dire family emergency or other catastrophic events.

Final Exam (300 points). There will be a comprehensive final exam at the end of the course. If you’re a graduating senior and you’re satisfied with your class average to that point, I’ll let you waive the final. Just please let me know that this is what you’re planning to do at least a week in advance!

There will be no provision for a make-up final exam.

Using higher math (which we always do at Mercer University), that gives you a possible 1000 points for the course. Your grade will be determined accordingly:

A 910-1000  < This is awesome!
B+ 860-909
B 810-859   < This is good
C+ 760-809
C 710-759   < This is okay
D 660-709
F 0-659   < Try to avoid this range

If you’re concerned about your grade and would like some guidance on how best to proceed, please come see me.

CONDUCT

The College’s academic misconduct policy (Honor Code) will be followed.

ATTENDANCE

You’re an adult. You can decide for yourself whether come to class or kiss it off. Be advised, however, that quizzes and exams are largely based on class discussions. Poor attendance is usually its own reward. In any event, if you miss eight or more class sessions (>25%), you’ll be awarded a grade of F for the course.

CLASS POLICY ON CELL PHONES

Please turn off your phone or at least set it to vibrate. This is just common courtesy for your classmates and your teacher. If you must take a call during class, quietly collect your things and exit the classroom. We’ll see you next time.

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT STATEMENT

If you have any sort of disability that may hinder your success in this course, please visit Ms. Johnson at Disability Services and come talk with me privately about what sort of accommodation you’ll need.

And now, behold! The Mercer University ADA Statement!

Students requiring accommodations for a disability should inform the instructor at the close of the first class meeting or as soon as possible. The instructor will refer you to the ACCESS and Accommodation Office to document your disability, determine eligibility for accommodations under the ADAAA/Section 504 and to request a Faculty Accommodation Form. Disability accommodations or status will not be indicated on academic transcripts. In order to receive accommodations in a class, students with sensory, learning, psychological, physical or medical disabilities must provide their instructor with a Faculty Accommodation Form to sign. Students must return the signed form to the ACCESS Coordinator. A new form must be requested each semester. Students with a history of a disability, perceived as having a disability or with a current disability who do not wish to use academic accommodations are also strongly encouraged to register with the ACCESS and Accommodation Office and request a Faculty Accommodation Form each semester. For further information, please contact Katie Johnson, Director and ADA/504 Coordinator, at 301-2778 or visit the ACCESS and Accommodation Office website at http://www.mercer.edu/disabilityservices.

DAILY SCHEDULE

Read the assigned passages before you come to class that day.

Aug 22 A Bird’s-Eye View of the Old Testament
Aug 24

 

 

The Creation Narratives
Primary Sources: Genesis 1–2; Enuma Elish, Tablets I–II, IV
MDOB: Cosmology; Creation; Sources of the Pentateuch
Video: Dan Clanton, “PRE 120: Documentary Hypothesis.”
**August 25 is the last day for Late Registration and Drop/Add
Aug 29

 

Stories of Crime and Punishment
Primary Sources: Genesis 3–11; The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet XI
MDOB: Flood; Genesis, Book of
Aug 31

 

Patriarchal Narratives: Abraham, Part 1
Primary Sources: Genesis 12–16
MDOB: Abraham; Covenant; Hebrew/Habiru/Apiru
Sep 5

 

Patriarchal Narratives: Abraham, Part 2
Primary Sources: Genesis 17–25
MDOB: Circumcision; Patriarch
Sep 7

 

FISHBOWL 1: WOMEN IN THE PATRIARCHAL NARRATIVES
Primary Sources: Genesis 16–18; 21
MDOB: Feminist Hermeneutics; Hagar; Sarah; Women in the Old Testament
Sep 12

 

The Patriarchal Narratives: Jacob (and Joseph)
Primary Sources: Genesis 25:19-34; 27–35; 46
MDOB: Birthright; Esau; Jacob; Joseph
Sep 14

 

The Exodus
Primary Sources: Exodus 1–4; 11–15
MDOB: Exodus; Exodus, Book of; Moses; Passover
Sep 19

 

The Giving of the Law
Primary Sources: Exodus 19–23; Leviticus 11; 17-19; 25–26
MDOB: Law in the Old Testament; Sinai; Torah
Sep 21

 

The Wilderness Generation
Primary Sources: Numbers 13–17; 20–24; 33
MDOB: Balaam; Desert; Numbers, Book of; Spies
Sep 26 FIRST EXAM (Covering the Torah)
Sep 28

 

Saul and the Rise of David
Primary Sources: 1 Samuel 9–12; 15–18; 24; 26–27
MDOB: Samuel; Samuel, Books of First and Second; Saul
Oct 3

 

David’s Reign
Primary Sources: 1 Samuel 31; 2 Samuel 1–3; 5–7; 11–12; 24
MDOB: David; Jerusalem; United Monarchy
Oct 5 MIDTERM BREAK / NO CLASS
Oct 10

 

Solomon and the Divided Kingdom
Primary Sources: 1 Kings 1:1–3; 6; 10–12; 2 Kings 10; 17–21
MDOB: Israel, Kingdom of; Judah, Kingdom of; Kings, Books of First and Second; Solomon
Oct 12

 

FISHBOWL 2: THE PROPHET ELIJAH
Primary Sources: 1 Kings 16:29–17:7; 18:1-2, 17-46; 19:1-18
MDOB: Ahab; Baal; Elijah; Idolatry; Jezebel
Oct 17

 

Eighth-Century Prophets: Amos (and Hosea)
Primary Sources: Amos 1–5; 7–8; Hosea 1–3
MDOB: Amos; Amos, Book of; Hosea; Hosea, Book of; Prophet
Oct 19

 

Eighth-Century Prophets: Isaiah (and Micah)
Primary Sources: Isaiah 1:1–2:5; 5–11; 35; Micah 1; 6–7
MDOB: Isaiah; Isaiah, Book of; Micah; Micah, Book of
Oct 24

 

The Book of Jeremiah
Primary Sources: Jeremiah 1–2; 6–7; 18; 20; 26–29; 31
MDOB: Jeremiah; Jeremiah, Book of
Oct 26

 

 

The Exile
Primary Sources: 2 Kings 22–25; Lamentations 1; Psalm 137; Ezekiel 36–37; Isaiah 40; 52:13–53:12
MDOB: Babylonian Empire; Exile
**October 27 is the last day for Class Withdrawal
Oct 31

 

Post-Exilic Prophets: Haggai and Zechariah
Primary Sources: Haggai 1–2; Zechariah 1; 3-4; 6; 9
MDOB: Haggai; Book of; Zechariah; Book of
Nov 2 SECOND EXAM (Covering the Prophets)
Nov 7

 

The Psalms
Primary Sources: Psalms 1–3; 19; 23–24; 29; 51; 63; 70; 100; 104; 148; 150
MDOB: Poetry; Psalms, Book of; Worship in the Old Testament
Nov 9

 

Wisdom Literature: Proverbs
Primary Sources: Proverbs 1; 8–10; 22–25
MDOB: Proverb; Proverbs, Book of; Wisdom Literature
Nov 14

 

Wisdom Literature: Job
Primary Sources: Job 1–5; 9–10; 28; 31–33; 38–39; 42
MDOB: Job; Job, Book of
Nov 16

 

Wisdom Literature: Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs
Primary Sources: Ecclesiastes 1; 3–4; 7; 9; 11; Song of Songs 1–3; 5–6
MDOB: Ecclesiastes, Book of; Song of Songs
Nov 21 NO CLASS
Nov 23 THANKSGIVING / NO CLASS
Nov 28

 

 

The Book of Esther
Primary Sources: Esther 1–10
MDOB: Esther, Book of; Genre, Concept of
**PURIM PLAY
**OPTIONAL PAPERS DUE
Nov 30

 

The Book of Daniel
Primary Sources: Daniel 1–3; 5–7; 9–12; Additions to Daniel (i.e., Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews; Susanna; Bel and the Dragon)
MDOB: Apocalyptic Literature; Daniel, Book of; Hellenistic World
Dec 5

 

The Apocrypha: The Rest of the Story
Primary Sources: 1 Maccabees 1–2; 4:36–61; 2 Maccabees 7
MDOB: Maccabees; Maccabees, First; Septuagint
Dec 7

 

The Apocrypha: Later Wisdom Literature
Primary Sources: Sirach 1, 32-33; 38; 44-46
MDOB: Apocryphal Literature (stop at the heading “The Pseudepigrapha”); Sirach
Dec 15 FINAL EXAM 2:00–5:00 (Comprehensive)

 

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