Intro to the Hebrew Bible

Prof. Mark K. George
Office: I-110, (303) 765-3168
Office hours: I am happy to arrange a meeting with students. Please contact me in class or by email to make arrangements.

Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

21 November 2019 note : Hi everyone. I will build out the course over Winter Interterm, but for now, please note the required books listed below and make arrangements to obtain them. Also, please note I've assigned the Brown book for the first week. It is will help you gain an orientation to the course and subject, and I will make a space to raise questions or comments about it for the first week. Finally, please check back about New Year's Day because we will jump in the very first week with readings and discussion (starting Tuesday, 7 January 2020), so I will make the assignment available on or before 1 January 2020.

Please note that we have lots of good stuff to cover this term, so if you want to use the interterm to get a start on it, please start reading the Coogan book. Also, if you are not very familiar with the Bible, please thumb through it, read a few stories, learn its organization, etc. The more familiar you are with the characters and stories, the easier life will be as we rush through! And its great literature!

Course Description

Catalogue description: An introduction to the literature and history of ancient Israel and early Judaism with special attention to the various methods appropriate to studying the Hebrew Bible.

Additional description: As an introductory course, this class is designed to provide a one quarter survey of the Hebrew Bible. It is organized according to the canonical arrangement of the Hebrew Bible. We study the content and themes of the books of the Hebrew Bible, their historical and social backgrounds, and scholarly interpretations and approaches to the materials. Among the objectives of the course is to prepare students for further coursework in biblical studies and to develop each student’s skills in critical, close readings of biblical texts.

Course Goals and Objectives

The goal of this course is to familiarize students with major aspects of the critical study of the Hebrew Bible. In order to accomplish this goal, students:

  1. are introduced and familiarized with the content of the Hebrew Bible, the types of literature it contains, and the historical and cultural contexts in which this literature was produced, through readings, lectures, online discussions, and assessments;
  2. are helped in developing their abilities to read the Hebrew Bible critically by examining scholarly theories and approaches to its interpretation, through readings, lectures, and online discussions;
  3. improve their skills in critical reading of biblical texts, through readings and online discussions;
  4. learn to see and interpret material artifacts and sites pertinent to the study of the Hebrew Bible, through readings and online discussions.


New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). This is the translation we will use in the course for all class work, written work, online postings, and other “official” contexts. If you do not own a copy of the NRSV or have easy electronic access to a copy, please make arrangements to gain access. If you would like to purchase a copy, I recommend Harold W. Attridge, ed. The HarperCollins Study Bible-Student Edition: Fully Revised and Updated . San Francisco: HarperOne, 2006. ISBN 978-0060786847.

Brown, Michael Joseph. What They Don’t Tell You: A Survivor’s Guide to Biblical Studies . Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0664222208. Note: Please read this book prior to the first week of class.

Coogan, Michael D. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its Context . 3 rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0190238599. Please note: a new (4th) edition of this book was published recently, so please do not confuse editions. For this course, we will use the 3rd edition . It is a bit cheaper (especially if you can find a used copy in good condition) and not that much new information is in the 4th edition.

Newsom, Carol A. Sharon H. Ringe, Jacqueline E. Lapsley, eds. The Women’s Bible Commentary . 3 rd edition. Revised and expanded. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0664237073.

Petersen, David L. The Prophetic Literature: An Introduction . Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0664254537.

Additional readings will be made available through this Canvas site.

NOTE: the syllabus and schedule are subject to change at the sole discretion of the professor.