OOTLE17 is the Open Old Testament Learning Event 2017.

This is a 13-week open course in academic biblical studies, introducing learners to the Hebrew Scriptures (often called the "Old Testament" in popular culture). It is the kind of introductory course taken by seminary students or by religious-studies university students. The course begins January 30 2017, but anyone can join in at any time.

What makes it an "open course"?

You do it on the open Web: This is a "distributed" or "connected" course: We build the course together by interacting with one another on our own blogs and Twitter accounts. What will it all look like? It's open-ended. We'll find out together, using these open Web platforms to accomplish our interactive course work

Anybody can do it: This course assumes no "faith commitments" for participants. Everyone is welcome to participate. There is no charge, and you earn no credits or certificates.

Come when you may, leave when you must: Participate every week, or just on the weeks that grab your interest. Follow the prompts offered each week, or come up with your own ideas. (Note: we do have a "core group" of about 15 tuition-paying Garrett-Evangelical students who do have requirements for participation. The rest of you are free citizens.)

I don't get it. Is this, like, Bible Study or something?

Nope, this is academic biblical studies. Think of how "Shakespeare studies" or "Chaucer studies" works, and you have a pretty good idea of how "biblical studies" works. We use historical, literary, and cultural approaches to better understand the biblical texts as products of the ancient world. Academic biblical studies also pays attention to the social context of the reader (that's you), and how these contexts make a difference for how we read and understand.

For these reasons, it should be clear that "proselytizing" (attempting to convert other people to your religious beliefs) has no part in such a course, and is not permitted in OOTLE. If somebody suggests, in their course-related blog posts, that your faith commitments (or lack of them) are "wrong," let me know and I will detach their blogs from this course. If necessary, I also encourage you to "ban" proselytizing commenters from your own blogs.

Who's doing this?

G. Brooke Lester is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Scriptures and Director of Digital Learning at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of religious studies associated with the United Methodist Church. Sun-Ah Kang is a PhD student in Biblical Studies at Garrett.

How Do I Get Started?

Look at the "Get Involved" tab above. Follow instructions there to create your own blog and Twitter account, and then to sign up with the information we need to link your blog to this course hub.