Literature of Ancient Israel: New Section Begins

Posted on by Brooke

Got a new class starting this morning, “Literature of Ancient Israel.” What would you like to say to anyone beginning their study of the Hebrew Bible?

These folks aren’t M.Divs or undergraduates, but rather masters students in varying degree programs more or less comprising “lay pastoral studies”: pastoral counseling, pastoral studies, religious ed, social justice, spiritual direction.

If there is one “big idea” animating the syllabus (besides the standard thing of distinguishing evidence-based inquiry from devotional or apologetic reading), it is the several theological tensions and disputes preserved in our canon. Only in its genuine, disconcerting diversity can the Bible be big enough to address the multidimensional array of pathetic (or delightful, for that matter) circumstances we creatures continue to find ourselves inhabiting.

The course is fully online, and even our weekly plenary sessions don’t begin right away, so no suit-and-tie get-up for me today. (Of course I suit up to teach. Why, what do you do?) I will have the pleasure of offering them a weekly asynchronous “televised address,” as well as a weekly synchronous hour, so there will still be the occasional need to become presentable.

Unlike some online conversations my students have had before, these folks are holding their discourse behind closed doors. Wish ’em luck. Anything you think they should have on their minds as they dig into the literature of Ancient Israel?