Week 04: Daniel and Apocalyptic

February 20-26: Daniel and Apocalyptic

Apocalyptic! Daniel, with its court legends and apocalypses. Hellenism. Institutional settings and functions of apocalyptic literature in the ancient Near East.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Chapter 16, Daniel: From History to Apocalypse. If you haven’t already, read too is Prologue to the Writings. Or, in your Introduction of choice, read on the Book of Daniel, Apocalyptic, and Hellenism.

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Daniel and Apocalyptic”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle17.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must comment, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers, by Tuesday morning. You may comment to their Wisdom posts or Daniel/apocalyptic posts.)

Make Option 01: (Based on Exercise 118 in Stanley.) Read Daniel 7:1-28; 10:1-14; 11:1-12:13. Using our course materials as a resource and citing these where appropriate, make a list of all of the elements of apocalyptic literature that you find in these passages, noting (chapter and verses) where you find each element. Use the lecture and your textbook of choice to learn what "elements of apocalyptic literature" to look for. For the sake of your reader, do not format this post as a bulleted or numbered list. Instead, write in sentences and paragraphs.

Make Option 02: (Based on Exercise 119 in Stanley.) In about 1000 words, imagine that you are a member of a Christian or Jewish group, in modern times, where people like you face serious abuse and repression. Do you think that your group may find a piece of ancient apocalyptic literature helpful in that situation? Why or why not? (Or better yet: Why AND why not?) Be specific about the circumstances you presuppose. Also, cite course materials and biblical or ancient non-biblical apocalyptic texts where appropriate.

Make Option 03: “Son of Man.” In about 1000 words, write up the results of your research into the phrase “son of man” (Hebrew ben-adam) in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, including Daniel 7:13 (Aramaic bar enosh). Note that translations might include “son of man,” “mortal,” “human being,” and others. Texts include not only Daniel, but Ezekiel, Psalms, Proverbs, and several other books. (Just be sure to cover its use in Daniel, since this is our week on Daniel!) A comparative term to investigate is “son(s) of god(s)” (Hebrew bene-elohim and similar); cf. Daniel 3:25 Aramaic bar-elohin. Use course materials, resources from our Resources page, and any other academic (non-sectarian) resources available to you.

Activity of the Week: Build an OER bibliography for Daniel

This week, we’re plundering our Resources page and the rest of the Web to construct a bibliography of “Open Academic Resources” (OER) on Daniel, apocalyptic, and Hellenism. Hopefully, we’ll all walk away with a shared resource that we can use and share in our future ministries and careers, whatever those may be.

We will create the bibliography on this shared Google Doc. As a group, you will decide how to order and organize your finds, what headers to use, etc. (I recommend the Comment feature as a way to discuss edits. Please do not delete the work of others without their permission.)

You may work on this Activity throughout the week, but be aware that folks working later may need to dig deeper in order to avoid duplicating the prior entries of their peers.

Fireside Chat/Office Hours

According to our student poll, the best times for Fireside Chat/Office Hours are Tuesdays 12:00-1:00pm (noon hour) and Tuesday evenings 7:00-8:00 pm. (All times are Central Time.) This week, I will host a meeting for both times. In the future, I will likely alternate weeks: noon one week, evening the next.

I will invite every student to each meeting. We use Zoom. You do not have to have any kind of account to join the meeting. You may join via web page, or using the Zoom app (desktop or mobile), or by phone (audio only). I recommend that participants use ear buds or headphones to minimize background noise and echo.

These are not required! But we will try to make them worth while. Topics may include the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament & its study, or strategies for succeeding in this course, or current events and other topics as they relate to our course and its enduring understandings and essential questions.

Week 03: Conventional and Dissenting Wisdom

February 13-19: Wisdom

Wisdom! Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes. Wisdom psalms and other odds and ends. Institutional settings and functions of Wisdom literature in the ancient Near East. Here again is a beginning list of “Enduring Understanding and Essential Questions” relating to the Writings.

This is our second of three weeks in the Unit, "The Writings."

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Chapter 14, Proverbs and Job: The Wisdom of Israel, as well as his short section on Ecclesiastes. If you haven’t already, read too his Prologue to the Writings. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the Wisdom Literature, Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes.

Recommended readings:

Consider any or all of these readings in terms of our topic for the week.

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Wisdom”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle17.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must comment, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers by Monday morning. You may comment on any post that is from this week, "Wisdom," or last week, "Psalms.")

Make Option 01:

Go to the Professional Left Podcast, and select Episode 270. Listen to their converstation about faith, blasphemy, and the Book of Job, beginning at time 22:15 and ending at time 32:00 (Note: Explicit Language.) Writing as a biblical scholar, fact-check their discussion regarding the Book of Job:

  • What do they get right? Demonstrate their accuracy, citing (where appropriate) the book of Job, your textbook, our lecture, and any other high-quality academic resources.
  • What, if anything, do they get wrong? Demonstrate these inaccuracies, citing (where appropriate) the book of Job, your textbook, our lecture, and any other high-quality academic resources.
  • How might you say the discussion is incomplete? What information can you offer about the book of Job--its details, the historical context of its writing (not its narrative setting!), its genre(s), and other relevant scholarly information about the book--that may inform the conversation that Blue Gal and Driftglass are having?

Don't make the mistake many critics make, criticizing them for "not having the discussion you wanted them to have"! Take their conversation on their terms, and bring a generous and positively-constructive voice.

Make Option 02:

Warning: This can be a hard one to do with the necessary sensitivity. You might have a friend check your draft before publishing.

In the lecture “Wisdom,” I suggest that the book of Ecclesiastes frequently “sets the bait” of conventional wisdom (Eccles 3:1–8; 7:1–13) in order to “spring the trap,” confronting the reader with a dissenting wisdom that subverts that conventional wisdom (Eccles 3:1–8 is surrounded by 2:1–26; 3:9–22; Eccles 7:1–14a is followed by 7:14b–29). Write an original composition that uses modern examples of conventional wisdom to "set the trap" for a dissenting perspective that subverts the conventional wisdom. Some examples of "conventional wisdom" that may prove useful:

Remember, your goal is to “fool” your reader (at least briefly) into assenting to such conventional wisdom, before surprising the reader by subverting the conventional wisdom with a dissenting perspective!

In one or more follow-up paragraphs, explain to your reader how the biblical examples serve as templates for you. Describe briefly, citing course materials, the ways that conventional and dissenting wisdom function (sometimes called “speculative wisdom”) in the books of Job and Ecclesiastes.

Make Option 03:

Using course materials, as well as any other quality academic resources, describe the ancient Near Eastern literature that helps us better understand biblical Wisdom. (For example, the oft-cited "Discourse between a Man and his Ba" Where and when do these works come from? What are their titles? What are they about, and what happens in them? How and why do they improve our understanding of the biblical material? Be specific, citing resources and relevant biblical texts. Some resources:

Activity of the Week: “Job v. God: the Twitter Game”

Job versus God! Who’s right? Who wins? What’s with those friends, anyway? Finally, it all gets decided, once and for all, on Twitter.

See my instructions for the game, “Job vee God.” When you are ready, announce your entry into the game by tweeting “I’m in!” (or similar) with the hashtag #JobvGod.

The game will begin Tuesday and Wednesday as players announce that they are in. Game play concludes Saturday night at midnight Central Time. On Sunday and Monday morning, players are free to “debrief” using the game hashtag, discussing what they learned, suggestions for future play, etc.

Week 02: Psalms

February 6-12: Psalms of Complaint, or "Lament Psalms"

Psalms! The Book of Psalms. Complaint psalms and other genres. Institutional settings and functions of psalms in history. Hebrew poetry and its forms.

This is our first of three weeks on "The Writings" in the Hebrew Bible. Here is a list of the "enduring understandings and essential questions" that motivated the instructor when creating this Unit.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Prologue to the Writings, and his chapter Psalms: Complaint and Thanksgiving. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the Writings, the Psalms, and on Biblical Hebrew poetry. Regarding Complaint Psalms, please also consult this handout.

Recommended readings:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Psalms”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one (1) of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog (remembering to tag your post with our label/tag, “ootle17”). Garrett students: Remember you must comment, thoughtfully and subsantively, to at least three (3) other OOTLE17-ers by Sunday evening, to a post on their blog that is less than one week old at the time of your comment.

Option 1:

Read Psalm 44, using the NRSV or CEB translations. Referring above to “How to Read a Poem” in this week’s readings, see the questions listed in the section, “Talking Back to a Poem.” In a blog post (or a YouTube video, or mp3 recording to which you link in a blog post), bring each of the listed questions to Psalm 44. Write the answers that Psalm 44 seems to provide. As always, be specific, and cite your evidence from Psalm 44. In a follow-up paragraph or two, write in such a way as to round out the elements of our course rubric.

Option 2:

Using the readings and handout offered above, study the formal features of the genre “Complaint Psalm” (often also called a “Lament Psalm”). Then, write your own Complaint Psalm. Some suggestions:

  • Notice how the Psalms do not specify their situation too closely: the idea is that generations of readers should be able to speak your complaint psalm in their own circumstances. At the same time, don’t make it too broad (or else we would only ever need one!).
  • Use the formal features, or else it isn’t a complaint psalm. At the same time, play against the form: what happens if you emphasize some of the formal elements while minimizing others? What happens when you break one formal element into parts, allowing it to surface and re-surface throughout the psalm?
  • Don’t look only for “pious” situations. Anything that causes pain is fair fodder for complaint: illness, death, unemployment, racism, underemployment, theft, sexism, betrayal, heroes who prove to have clay feet, hetero- or cis-normativity, banks that charge you $3 to access your own damned money, children who heart-breakingly refuse to learn lessons that would make them happier, getting your car keyed…use anything! Just be sure that the end result plays broadly enough that other readers can “feel it” in their own similar (but not identical) circumstances.
  • As necessary, in a follow-up paragraph or two, write in such a way as to round out the required elements of our course rubric.

Option 3:

Write any poem using Biblical-Hebrew poetic parallelism. The Bandstra reading above includes a section on parallelism, and this article shows how grammatical parts of speech can be your friend in generating parallels. Use as many kinds of poetic parallelism as you can.

  • Couplets are your friends!
  • Again, don’t feel compelled to select only “pious” or religiously-themed topics (though you certainly can use these). In fact, you might find a more "secular" topic easier for breaking out of habitual associations. Write want you want, and see what’s possible with parallelism. Let the poem surprise you by telling you what it wants to say. Brainstorm, draft, and revise, while listening to what the poem wants to become.
  • As necessary, in a follow-up paragraph or two, write in such a way as to round out the required elements of our course rubric.

Activity of the Week: Tweet Workshop

Tuesday through Wednesday (Correction: Monday and Tuesday), each of us will draft a Tweet that relates to this week’s topic. On Thursday through Friday (Correction: Wednesday-Thursday), each of us will offer suggestions for improvement to at least three (3) of our classmates. On Saturday through Monday morning (Correction: Friday through Monday morning), each of us will launch our Tweets into Twitter.

Here is the Google Doc where we will do our work, and where instructions are written.

Note again that there are "staged deadlines" for this Activity. That is, there is a stage to be done on Monday-Tuesday, a stage to be done Wednesday-Thursday, and a stage to be done Friday-Sunday.

Most of you will not yet have many Followers on Twitter. If you DO have followers, help your fellow OOTLE17-ers get things rolling by re-tweeting their tweets!

Fireside Chat

I will begin scheduling Chats according to your responses to our poll (Week 01). Stay tuned!

Week 01 of OOTLE17

January 30-February 5, 2017

Getting Started with OOTLE17 and the Study of the Hebrew Bible

Resources:

  1. See Dave Cormier's very short YouTube video, "Success in a MOOC." It will give you a great idea about how you might approach an open course like this one.
  2. Read Bandstra's introductory chapter, or the introductory chapter(s) in your textbook of choice (whatever chapters talk about the shape and content of the Hebrew Bible, and about its "composition history" in broad strokes). If you're feeling crazy, you might look at Bandstra's concluding chapter, "After the Hebrew Bible," as it gets into books that are part of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox canons but not part of the Protestant canon, plus the Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament, and some other stuff.
  3. View or listen to the two-part lecture, "Introducing the Tanak A" and "Introducing the Tanak B." View on YouTube, or get them as MP3s via this Dropbox folder link. (Weekly lectures will normally be in two parts, each part about 25-30 minutes in length.) Sound quality is uneven on some of these early efforts on my part, but they are audible, and it gets better.

Activities:

OOTLE17 Week One Treasure Hunt!

See how many of these you can do by Sunday evening, February 5:

  • Orient Yourself: If you haven't already, follow our instructions to "Get Involved" with OOTLE17, creating a blog and a Twitter account, and signing up to participate. Browse around this site, including our Twitter feed, and our learners' blog posts so far at our aggregation page.
  • Declare Yourself: On your blog, respond in some way to this week's resources: What surprises did they hold for you? What, if anything, bothers you? What excites you? What further questions do you have now about the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament that you did not have before engaging this week's resources? (Remember to tag your post with the "OOTLE17" tag, so that your post appears in our aggregation page!)
  • Make Connections: Visit the aggregation page, and find some posts that look interesting to you. Visit those blog posts, and make comments: ask questions, thank the writer for their insights, start a conversation.
  • Housewarm your blog! If you haven't already, write some information into your About page on your blog. Even if you use a pseudonym and avoid including identifiable information, you can communicate some of your loves and interests.
  • Housewarm your Twitter! If your avatar is still an "Egg," replace it with a photograph or some other image. Not sure where to find images that you're allowed to use? Start with sites like Public Domain Images. Also remember to write up your short bio. Want to take it further?
    • "Follow" someone else who is participating in OOTLE17.
    • Retweet somebody else's tweet.
    • @-mention ("at-mention") somebody else in a tweet.
    • Promote somebody else's blog post by writing a tweet that includes that post's URL (web address). Remember also to use our course hashtag, #ootle17.
  • Invite a friend: Know anybody who is "Hebrew Bible curious"? Let them know we're here, and help them get started.

Fireside Chats

Beginning in our second week (hopefully), I plan to start hosting online "fireside chats" for anyone who is able to attend. This could include Q&A about the course and how to succeed in it; open discussion about aspects of the Hebrew Bible and its study; questions around online community, social media, etc.; or whatever we like. I'm pretty open about it.

What can you do? Please respond to the poll on our Moodle course site, letting us know about your availability. We're interested in when you're normally available during the week. I may plan to offer them at different times: say, during business hours one week, and a weekday evening the next. We'll see how it goes.

These are not required! But I hope we can make them valuable. The tool will be "Zoom," which does not require special software on your part, but does call for a microphone and a web cam.

Week 13: "Law"

May 3-9 2016: Law

“Law.” What kinds of laws are in the Hebrew Bible, and how do they compare to other ancient Near Eastern law codes? Why are there multiple “law codes” in the Hebrew Bible? How does “law” relate to “THE Law,” or “Torah”? Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to the Pentateuch.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s third chapter, Exodus: Deliverance and fifth chapter Deuteronomy: The Torah of Moses. If necessary, review Prologue to the Torah. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the Law, on the law codes found in Exodus 20-23 and Deuteronomy 12-26, on “the Ten Commandments” or “Decalogue,” and on “Torah.”

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Law”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on Covenant or on Law by Sunday evening.)

Make Option 01: Make Your Own Make!

You’ve been at this a while. So make your own “make”! Write or record something that engages this week’s topic and course materials. If it helps, revisit the course’s Big Ideas and Essential Questions, as well as the course rubric.

Make Option 02: What Now?

Tell us where you go from here. How do you plan to retain involvement with those participants who might make up part of your Personal Learning Network? What future projects and plans might motivate you to engage again the materials and methods of this course? You can be tentative or provisional about your plans, but be specific.

Activity of the Week: Final Course Evaluations

These Course Evaluations go to Garrett-Evangelical, and are used by the institution to help us evaluate our online learning and for annual faculty evaluations.

You have already helped us improve the course in real time through the "hack the syllabus" and "improve this course" activities. Now help Garrett as a whole by participating in this end-of-term student course evaluation!

Find the end-of-term, final course evaluation on our Moodle site, in the right-hand side bar.

Google Hangout of the Week: Dr. Sara Koenig

On Wednesday May 4th at 2:30 pm Central Time, I'm interviewing Dr. Sara Koenig, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Seattle Pacific University. Besides "Pentateuch," we'll also likely talk about Bathsheba, and about "reception history": the study of the "history of consequences" that a story like Bathsheba's has in culture. Find the Google Hangout at this URL.

During the Hangout, offer questions and have conversation via Twitter, using our courses hash tag #ootle16.

Week 12: Covenant! (Genesis 12-50)

April 26-May 2 2016: Covenant

“Covenant” is so prominent in the Hebrew Bible that Walther Eichrodt organizes his entire 2-volume OT Theology around the concept of “covenant.” What kinds of covenant does the Hebrew Bible take for granted, and what are their features? Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to the Pentateuch.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s second chapter, Genesis 12-50: The Ancestral Story and Chapter Three Part 3 Sinai: Covenant Traditions. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the ancestral narratives, the Sinai pericope (Exod 19-26), and anything on “covenant.”

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Covenant”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on Covenant/Genesis 12-50 or on Emergence by Sunday evening.)

Make Option 01: At the end of Bandstra’s Chapter Two, he proposes five discussion questions. Choose one of these questions, and respond to it in about 1000 words.

Make Option 02: Write a Saga

The ancestral “cycles” (e.g., Abraham Cycle, Gen 12-25; Jacob Cycle, Gen 25:19 to 35:29) each comprise a collection of relatively independent sagas. For example, see Gen 16:1-16; Gen 17:1-22; Gen 22:1-19; Gen 29; Gen 34.

Sagas are typically short: about 550 words.

Sagas are typically simple:

  • there is a single plot (no sub-plots), with a single rising tension or conflict, resolution, and denouement.
  • there is a small cast, and usually only two parties are in dialogue at any one time.
  • there is no “backdrop” or thick background: it is as if the narrative took place against a plain white frame, so to speak, and a saga does not depend upon the action of any prior episode.
  • sagas are not moralistic: they do not “have a moral.” However, they are a means by which we describe “who we are.” (We are wily tricksters because our ancestor was a wily trickster; we are enemies with our neighbors because our ancestor was wronged by our neighbors; we are honorable in victory as our ancestor was honorable in victory; etc.) Sometimes “who we are” is not pretty.

Instructions: Choose any figure from the past whom you identify as part of your “tradition” (national, ethnic, ecclesial, political, academic, familial, or what have you). Write this figure into a short saga, using the formal features above as a guide. This should be a fictional episode; while it presumably takes place in that figure’s historical context, that context should be largely “invisible” behind and around the events of the saga. Again, this is historical fiction: don't recreate an episode, but rather invent one.

Ask yourself: what do you want this saga to say about who your group is? About your group's characteristics or aspirations? About your group's relationship to some other group? Does it aspire, or gloat, or does it tell “hard truths” about your group? Again: How does your fictional episode tell your group "who they are"?

Have fun!

Activity of the Week: Tweet your Big Ideas and Essential Questions

Back to Twitter!

You will remember that, for each Unit, the instructor has proposed a list of Big Ideas and Essential Questions for that Unit.

A “big idea” is an enduring understanding that animates the subject matter at hand, at least as far as your instructor is concerned. (“If they don’t get anything else out of this class, I hope that they see that...”)

An “essential question” is an open-ended question by which the instructor invites you to engage those ideas. Essential questions do not have “right” answers that can be researched. The purpose of an “essential question” is to generate new questions, and to provoke discussion, disclosure, and discovery.

My Twitter “cover photo” is a white board with “essential questions” written all over it. It is from my son’s 8th-grade literature classroom.

Instructions: This week, Tweet your own “big ideas and essential questions” for Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Imagine that you are preparing your own adult-education modules or seminary class on the Hebrew Bible. What Big Ideas ("enduring understandings") do you want your learners to “get”? What Essential Questions would you like to introduce as an avenue toward open-ended discussion, disclosure, and discovery?

Note: You do not have to “match up” Big Ideas with Essential Questions. Feel free to generate them independently. Maybe somebody else’s Big Ideas will spark Essential Questions for you, and vice versa!

Remember to use the course hash tag, #ootle16.

Google Hangout of the Week: Covenant and the Ancestral Narratives

Dr. John Miller and I will talk about Covenant and the ancestral narratives. John teaches New Testament, so we'll likely also talk "OT and NT". Date and time: Thursday, April 28, 11:00 am Central Time.

During the Hangout, follow the hashtag #ootle16, asking us questions, making comments, and discussing the conversation among yourselves.

Week 11: The Pentateuch! (Creation, and JEDP)

April 19-25 2016: The Documentary Hypothesis (Pentateuch)

How did the Pentateuch achieve its final shape? What’s this “JEDP” you hear so much about? What revisions have been rung on the Documentary Hypothesis in 140 years? Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to the Pentateuch.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Prologue to the Torah and Chapter 1 Genesis 1-11: The Primeval Story. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the Torah/Pentateuch, Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis (and any subsequent critical theories of pentateuchal composition history), and on Genesis 1-11.

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “The Documentary Hypothesis”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on the Royal Theology or on the Documentary Hypothesis by Sunday evening.)

Make Option 01: (Modified from Stanley, Exercise 32:) “Most of the stories in Genesis 1-11 are not mentioned anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible. This suggests that they were either not well known, or were created later than most of the other biblical materials. The Hebrew Bible also contains references to the origins of the unierse that differ substantially from the Genesis sotries.

“Read the following passages and make a list of the things that they say happened at the time when God created the universe. When you are done, go back over the list and mark which items seem to agree with the Genesis 1-2 creation stories, and which ones differ. Then see if you can construct an alternate story of the creation from the events that do not appear in the Genesis creation stories."

  • Isa 51:9
  • Job 9:4-14
  • Job 26:7-14
  • Job 38:1-11
  • Psalms 8:1-9
  • Psalms 74:12-17
  • Psalms 89:8-10
  • Psalms 104:1-9
  • Psalms 136:1-9
  • Proverbs 8:22-31

Make Option 02: The Divine Council

In Genesis 1-11, God occasionally addresses the first-person plural (“we/us”). Bandstra describes as the likeliest explanation the institution of the “Divine Council” (biblical “benê elohim” or “divine beings”).

First, collect the passages in Genesis 1-11 where God does so.

Then, read the following passages. Describe the features of the Divine Council in the Hebrew Bible. To what human institutions does it appear to correspond, and how? Who appear to be its members, and what are their job descriptions?

  • 1 Kings 22:19-22
  • Deut 32:8-9
  • Psalm 82
  • Isaiah 6:8
  • Job 1:6
  • Job 2:1
  • Psalm 29:1-2
  • Job 38:7
  • Psalm 89:6-7

Finally, revisit the “we/us” passages from Genesis 1-11, imagining this Divine Council present and directly addressed by God. Does anything change for you when you imagine God addressing this council? How or how not?

Activity of the Week: Improve This Course (“Hack the Syllabus”)

What should change for OOTLE17?

Your feedback on OOTLE16 helps us improve the experience for next year's class. Last week, you gave us ideas about how to better incorporate engagement with systemic evil, racism, and injustice. At the end of the course, you will write an evaluation of the course as a whole.

This week, let's give you a chance to re-write the syllabus for OOTLE17. Go to this Google Doc and “Hack the Syllabus,”, revising it to make this course even better for next year’s group.

You may edit directly, and your edits will appear as "suggested edits." Or, you may write Comments.

Google Hangout of the Week: Pentateuch and Creation

This Wednesday evening at 5:00 pm Central Time I'll be interviewing Dr. Nyasha Junior to talk about the Pentateuch’s formation and the creation stories. What do we love (or not) about these in our research and teaching? (Yes, Dr. Junior is the one you've already found stalking our Twitter feed from time to time. She's always a good friend to OOTLE!)

During the Hangout, follow the hashtag #ootle16, asking us questions, making comments, and discussing the conversation among yourselves.

Week 10: the Judaean Royal Theology

April 12-18: The Judean Royal Theology

Judah’s pre-exilic world view concerning the Davidic kingship in Jerusalem stands in contrast to other, more anti-monarchical, ideologies apparent in the Deuteronomistic History, and will give rise to later messianic expectations. What are the characteristic features of Judah’s “Royal Theology”? Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to the Former Prophets.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra Chapter 8 Samuel: The Rise of Kingship and Chapter 9 Kings and Prophets 1: The Early Monarchy. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the books of Samuel and 1st Kings, and on Saul, David, and Solomon.

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “The Judean Royal Theology”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on the Royal Theology or on Emergence by Sunday evening.)

Make Option 01: “Write the Bible” Read the story of the rape of Tamar 2 Samuel 13:1-33.

Privately, reflect on the story. What does the story tell/show, and what does it hide or leave untold? Whose voices and interests are given expression, and whose voices or interests are not given expression? What do you wish happened that doesn't?

In a blog post (or oral presentation, or video presentation linked at your blog), write 350-750 additional words to the story. These words may be a prequel, or a sequel, or interlaced into the story. You may "break up" your words, adding some here, and some there.

Write freely: To paraphrase the book of Judges, assume “there is no censor in OOTLE16, and everyone may write what is right in hir own eyes.”

You may choose simply to write your words, and indicate by some means where they belong in relation to the biblical story. Or, you may copy and paste the biblical text into your blog and write into it and around it. If you choose the latter, find some way to format your text so that the reader knows at a glance what is biblical and what is nonbiblical.

This “make” was originally inspired by this news item.

Make Option 02: (from Stanley, Exercise 73)

“Read the following passages that describe the events that the Hebrew Bible says led to the founding of the Jerusalem temple and the northern shrines. What reasons are given for the founding of these shrines? How credible do these reasons seem to you? Why does the narrator express such different opinions [concerning] the northern and southern shrines?”

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-17
  • 1 Kings 12:1-33
  • 1 Kings 16:29-33
  • 2 Chronicles 3:1-5:14

You might read also “The Sanctuaries at Dan and Bethel,” by Jonathan S. Greer.

Be sure to use and cite course materials, including lectures and readings, in the formulation of your responses. Plan about 1000 words total.

Activity of the Week: Improve this Course!

In a curriculum-revision proposal accepted by the faculty yesterday (April 11th, 2016), Garrett-Evangelical asks instructors to...

identify how courses analyze and address systemic evil, racism and injustice, for example social justice, sustainability, and/or interculturality.

A few relevant observations:

  • Garrett-Evangelical has historical commitments to racial justice and the flourishing of the Black churches, while serving a denomination that is 90-95% white. [An added btw: today marks one year since the death of Freddie Gray]
  • Garrett-Evangelical's President has voiced a commitment that we "review [our] relationship with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender[], and Queer people in all aspects of the community's life," to be sure that Garrett-Evangelical is welcoming and safe for LGBTQ persons.
  • Dr. Tim Eberhart (Theology) leads the campus group "sustainG-ETS," which is a "coalition of Garrett-Evangelical students, faculty, staff, and friends working towards a more sustainable campus and more sustainable living overall."
  • The new curriculum will include a foundation course "Global Christianity in Interfaith World" and incorporate our "cross-cultural immersion" requirement into a 3-credit course.

Question for this activity: How might the resources and activities of "Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible" give learners better practice at integrating the understandings animating this course with issues around systemic evil, racism, and injustice, especially around social justice, sustainability, and interculturality?

Here is a Google Doc on which to begin your activity. Please consider this an open-ended brainstorming...not an activity that you will “finish.” (Though, part of your brainstorming might be to envision what kinds of projects or artifacts would be worthwhile eventual goals for anybody who continues in your steps on this activity.)

This Activity is intentionally under-structured. Think of it as a one-week workshop. Range widely, but keep coming back to the question: How can academic Hebrew Bible studies help learners better integrate their learning with issues around systemic evil, racism, and injustice, especially around social justice, sustainability, and interculturality?

Google Hangout of the Week: Amy Erickson

On Thursday, April 16, 2:00-3:00 pm Central Time, I will be joined by Dr. Amy Erickson of the Iliff School of Theology for an "On Air" live Google Hangout. Maybe we'll talk about the Judaean Royal Theology. Maybe we'll talk about "God" as a troublesome character in Job and Jonah. Frankly, I don't know what might happen. Get on Twitter, and steer us where you want us to go.

During the Hangout, follow the hashtag #ootle16, asking us questions, making comments, and discussing the conversation among yourselves.

Week 09: The "Emergence" of Israel

April 5-12: The Emergence of Israel

Where does “Israel” come from? Where does its history begin? Who are the Israelites among the Canaanites? Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to the Former Prophets.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra Chapter 6 Joshua: The Conquest of Canaan and Chapter 7 Judges: Securing the Land. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the books of Joshua and Judges, and on the “emergence” or “settlement” of the people Israel in the land.

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Emergence of Israel”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on Deuteronomy & the DtrH or on Emergence by Tuesday morning.)

Make Option 01: (Based on Stanley, Exercise 45:) Read Judges 19:1-21:25. In about 1000 words:

What would you say is the central message or theme of the story? What purposes would the story have served for the people who preserved it and told it in ancient Israel?

List, in detail, the plot elements that would seem strange or even offensive to most modern readers in your social context. How, in detail, might these narrative elements have been perceived by an ancient audience? How might these narrative elements have functioned for that audience and its society? (That is, what good might these strange and offensive elements have served for the original hearers?)

How does the story depict the leadership of Israel during this premonarchical period?

Make Option 02: What can you surmise of a society from a single poem?

Step 1. Read Judges 5:2 (beginning with “When hair is long in Israel...”) through Judges 5:31a (ending with “...the sun, rising in its strength”).

Step 2. Read this short page on how to do primary source analysis. On your own, bring its questions to the poem in Judges, re-reading that poem.

Step 3. In about 1000 words, and using this source analysis sheet as a template, answer its questions in a blog post. Be sure to provide a link to the poem for your readers (perhaps the CEB link that I provide above).

It’s fine to bring the poem and its analysis into conversation with your other learning about the Emergence of Israel. However, be careful not to rely uncritically on the biblical narrative(s) in your analysis. (For example, you would not assume that the poem is written by a man named Barak, nor by the woman “Deborah” addressed in verse 7, nor would you assume that the narrative details reflect any historical persons or events. What can the poem itself tell us about the questions posed?)

Activity of the Week: Share Your Learning

Who in your life knows that you are participating in the Open Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) Learning Event 2016? Who doesn’t know? What would you like to share with someone about your learning? How might they respond?

Choose anybody in your life who might be interested to hear about your learning up to this point in OOTLE16. Make a date with them to spend a chunk of time about equal to a coffee date, a lunch, or a long phone call. Be sure that they understand the reason for the date.

During your date, tell them anything(s) at all that currently have your attention concerning the Hebrew Bible and its academic study. Be sure to give them time to ask their own questions. Allow the conversation to range as widely as it needs to, but keep circling around to the topic so that it doesn’t simply get left behind.

You do NOT need to write anything up on this, though you may blog about it if you choose! Garrett-Evangelical students should simply plan to confirm to us in their reports whether they have chosen to do this Activity.

Google Hangout of the Week: Office Hours x2!

I will offer Google Hangout Office Hours on Thursday morning, April 7th, at 10am CT; and Saturday afternoon, April 9th, at 1pm CT. Think of it as a "Fireside Chat": come and talk about the Hebrew Bible and its academic study. What questions are raised for you these days? Are their any insights that you would like to "dig deeper" on? Do you have any ideas that you want to explore with a group?

I will send an Invitation to every student, about 15 minutes before each Hangout. For Garrett students, the Invitation will come to your Garrett email address, so plan to be logged in to your Gmail Garrett account. For other OOTLE16 learners, I will use the email address by which you enrolled in OOTLE16 (or reach me to let me know what address to use).

Week 08: The Deuteronomistic History!

March 22-28: Former Prophets

The Former Prophets: Joshua. Judges. (Not Ruth!) Samuel. Kings. Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to the Former Prophets.

Resources

Readings:

Review Bandstra on the Prophets, with special attention to “The Former Prophets” and “The Prophets as a Whole.” Also, read his Chapter 5 on Deuteronomy: The Torah of Moses. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on Deuteronomy and on the Former Prophets. You may need to search for “historical books.”

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Deuteronomy and the DtrH”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on Jeremiah & Jerusalem or on Responses to Exile by Sunday evening.)

Make Option 01: (Based on Stanley, Exercise 43:) Read the following passages from the Hebrew Bible.

  • Deuteronomy 28:1-68
  • Joshua 23:1-16
  • 1 Samuel 12:1-25
  • 2 Kings 17:5-18
  • 2 Chronicles 36:11-21

Summarize what each passage says or implies about the relationship between faithfulness to Y*WH and his covenant and the events of social and political history.

Then, assess for yourself the credibility of the positions taken in these texts. Do you find these claims coherent with other biblical witness? Are they intelligible in light of the way we understand the world today? Are they moral? How or how not? What if they are not?

(Be sure to summarize, not re-tell at length. Make your claims in your own words as briefly as you may, citing the biblical text where apppropriate to support your summary.)

Make Option 02: Read the passages in the bullet points above for Make Option 01.

Some have written of slavery as the United States’ “original sin,” others of our treatment of Native Americans, or of racism generally, or of gun culture, or capitalism, or nativism, or American “exceptionalism,” or others candidate “original sins” for the United States.

What do you think is the United States’ “original sin”? What real consequences is the U.S. undergoing today as a kind of “historical judgment” on that original sin?

In about 1000 words write in the persona of a revered figure from the United States’ past...someone who could reasonably have written before, say, 1941. (Ben Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, James Hoffa, James Madison, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, General Robert E. Lee, or who you will.) From that persona’s perspective, name that sin, and “forecast” the kinds of consequences the nation will suffer as judgment for that original sin. Experiment with the tools of the Deuteronomists: polemic, comparison and contrast, hyperbole, repetition of phrase, and so on.

Again, be sure to draw on actual consequences/circumstances in more recent U.S. history: you’re not going for the vague and “eschatological” here. Let your chosen historical person "forecast" existing consequences that we (in 2016) have already suffered, or are now suffering.

Students who identify themselves as of a different country may amend these instructions, writing as a revered figure in their own country’s history, concerning that land’s “original sin.”

Activity of the Week: Twitter Revival

Folks are having wonderful interactions with one another in the comments sections of your blogs, and on activities like the MLK Letter. Often, these are only visible to the the few interacting at one time. This week, let's bring the party back onto Twitter, where all the participants can see and join your interactions.

This week, do some or all of the following:

  • "Promote" one another's blog posts (from any week) on Twitter. Here is an example. A good format is: Quote or commentary; @-mention of blog author; URL to blog post; #ootle16 tag.
  • Start a conversation: Ask a question of the other OOTLE16 participants. Bring something up that you want to talk about. Just get a ball rolling, and see who picks it up.
  • When you find anything on the Internet that might be of interest to OOTLE16 participants, share it with us! Here is an example of that.
  • Do you Follow two people on Twitter who might not know each other, but should? Introduce them with a Twitterduction!

You may find it helpful to use a URL shortener, since Twitter only allows 140 characters. Here is a resource to help you understand and find URL shorteners.

Google Hangout of the Week: Office Hours!

As before, I will host a pair of Google Hangout Office Hours. This time, though, I'm going to put them in the same "week", and it will be after Spring Break. Most likely, these will be on Thursday morning, April 7th, at 10am CT; and Saturday afternoon, April 9th, at 1pm CT. Stay tuned!

Week 07: Responses to Exile!

March 15-21: Responses to Exile

Responses to Exile, among the Latter Prophets and their exilic contemporaries. Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to prophecy and the Latter Prophets.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Chapter 12 Postmonarchy Prophets: Exile and Restoration. Or, in your Introduction of choice, read on the periods of the Babylonian Exile and the post-exilic restoration in the district of Judea (formerly the nation of Judah).

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Responses to Exile”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on Jeremiah & Jerusalem or on Responses to Exile by Sunday evening.)

Make Option 01: In the lecture, in the Bandstra reading linked above (or your textbook of choice), and in the recommended reading, find what is available on the “messiah” or on “messianic” ideas during the Babylonian Exile and in post-exilic Judea.

Pick someone whom you would like to teach about “The Messiahs of the Hebrew Bible.” (A colleague, a prospective MDiv student, a curious family member, or anyone else.) In about 1000 words, and using these course materials as a resource, write them a letter about what a “messiah” is (or what “messiahs” are/do?) in the Hebrew Bible. Be sure to cite appropriately, so that they can engage these materials themselves also. Don’t “lecture” (we all know how off-putting that is!), but do find compelling ways to include the relevant information. Anticipate their questions and concerns, and address them overtly.

Make Option 02: In the lecture, in the Bandstra reading linked above (or your textbook of choice), and in the recommended reading, find what is available on “Isaiah’s Servant” (or the Servant of YHWH, or the Suffering Servant) with regard to the book of Isaiah.

Pick someone whom you would like to teach about “Isaiah’s Servant.” (A colleague, a prospective MDiv student, a curious family member, or anyone else.) In about 1000 words, and using these course materials as a resource, write them a letter about what this “servant” is for the book of Isaiah. Be sure to cite appropriately, so that they can engage these materials themselves also. Don’t “lecture” (we all know how off-putting that is!), but do find compelling ways to include the relevant information. Anticipate their questions and concerns, and address them overtly.

Activity of the Week: Continuing Analysis of MLK “Letter from Burmingham Jail” as Prophecy.

For the three weeks of the Latter Prophets, we are joing in a shared annotation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

During this third week, we will collaborate on a few paragraphs summarizing our observations. Working together, decide on a structure that allows you to 1) summarize your observations, and 2) comment on your several experiences of the project.

The challenge of this week is that none of you “owns” the paragraphs, or even your own contributions to them! Be respectul of one another’s contributions, but in the end, the reader will not see “Jim’s part” and “Angela’s part”…they will simply see the paragraphs as a whole.

(Garrett-Evangelical students, remember you will have opportunity to describe your activity in your weekly report.)

Our work continues, as before, on this shared Google Doc.

Google Hangout of the Week: Responses to Exile.

On Thursday, March 17, 2:30-3:30 pm Central Time, I will be joined by Dr. David Garber for an "On Air" live Google Hangout. We will talk what we love (or don’t) about the “responses to Exile” and its academic study, and what kinds of things we hope for students to get out of the Unit.

During the Hangout, follow the hashtag #ootle16 on Twitter, asking us questions, making comments, and discussing the conversation among yourselves.

Week 06: Jeremiah and Jerusalem (7th century prophecy)

March 8-14: Pre-exilic Prophecy

Prophecy, between the fall of Israel and the fall of Judah. Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to prophecy and the Latter Prophets.

Don’t go too crazy trying to understand "Deuteronomism" and the "Deuteronomistic History": we’ve got a whole Unit on that coming up on a couple of weeks. This week, you’re just trying to understand the historical narrative spanning the fall of Israel to the Assyrians and the ensuing period of “Judah alone,” as Assyria recedes in importance and Babylon becomes a threat. The Rollston article will also help you understand pre-exilic Israelite polytheism in this context.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Chapter 11 Kings and Prophets 3: The Babylonian Crisis. Or, in your Introduction of choice, read on the 7th-century prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah, and on the historical period between 722 BCE (the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians) and 586 BCE (the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians). On Judah’s last years before its fall to Babylon, see too this handout.

Recommended Reading: I strongly recommend Christopher Rollston’s “The Rise of Monotheism in Ancient Israel: Biblical and Epigraphic Evidence.”

Optional Reading for Hangout: Dr. Bryan Bibb literally "wrote the book" on prophecy. He and I will discuss his introductory chapter, available to you here. Not a requirement, but enjoy it as you're able.

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Jeremiah and Jerusalem”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on the 8th-century prophets or on Jeremiah & Jerusalem by Sunday evening.)

Make Option 01: Read Jeremiah 20:7-13, the last of the “laments” of Jer 11-20. There, Jeremiah complains that God has “deceived” or “enticed” him: the word has elsewhere connotations of sexual entrapment, perhaps even rape (cf. Exod 22:16 [English verse numbers]; Judges 14:15; 16:5). Ezekiel says that God will “deceive” prophets in order to destroy them (Ezek 14:9), and Micaiah has a vision of God sending a “lying spirit” to “deceive” prophets and make them unwittingly prophesy falsehoods (1 Kgs 22:20-22). Other ancient Near Eastern religious texts also accept that the gods may deliver lying oracles.

Read Jer 20:7-13 again, holding in view his concerns about a God who lies. What do you think of Jeremiah’s “deceiving God”? What is his complaint? What is his petition? Can you think of modern examples of ways people contend with the possibility of God lying? How about withholding truth? Does Jeremiah have anything to offer someone who feels betrayed by a lying God?

Make Option 02: Read these passages from Jeremiah: 1:1-19; 2:1-13; 4:23-28; 5:1-5; 7:1-34; 8:18–9:3; 18:1-12; 20:7-13; 23:9-32; 31; 32:1-15. Which of these texts sound to you like prophecies of “doom”? Which, by contrast, of “hope”? What make the differences? Do you find it credible that these types of utterance could both come from the same prophet? To what of Judah’s political circumstances might each be appropriate during Jeremiah’s career? If you are someone who preaches, do you preach both “doom” and “hope”? Under what circumstances, and what makes the difference?

Make Option 03: Read the Rollston article from the recommended reading (above). What is Rollston trying to get across, using what evidence, and reasoning from it how? What differences emerge between the “world in the text” (the biblical narratives) and the “world behind the text” (the actual history that produces the biblical narratives)? How might a religious community of your own experience respond to Rollston’s piece...or to the discovery that the piece’s claims are not even slightly controversial in the field of biblical studies?

Activity of the Week: Continuing Analysis of MLK “Letter from Burmingham Jail” as Prophecy.

For the three weeks of the Latter Prophets, we are joing in a shared annotation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

This week: During this second week, we engage and challenge one another on our annotations, on accuracy and in terms of how closely we engage course materials and methods. Reply to the Comments of your classmates. Dig into course materials to support, challenge, and extend their observations. Think of yourself as a team, all getting stronger together. (Obviously, many of you were already doing this in the first week, which is terrific.)

At the same time, continue making new annotations, using our course materials as a resource regarding the genres and activities typical of ancient Near Eastern and biblical prophecy. How does the letter’s form and content, historical setting and function “stack up” as prophecy (again in the senses of that word used in academic study of the Hebrew Bible)? How not? Annotate profligately! Where you are unsure of your observations, simply indicate that in your annotations. But engage course materials rigorously.

We will do our analysis on this shared Google Doc. As a group, you will decide how to order and organize analysis. You may use the Comments feature, interlinear additions (with or without hyperlinks), and anything else you think works well. Just be sure we can distinguish the original text from your annotations. And, be aware that dependence upon “color coding” can make your work unavailable to the visually or cognitively impaired. Keep it simple.

During the third week, we will collaborate on a few paragraphs summarizing our observations.

Google Hangout of the Week: Jeremiah and Late Pre-exilic Judah.

Wednesday of this week, March 9th at 1:00 pm Central Time, I will be joined by Dr. Bryan Bibb for an "On Air" live Google Hangout. We will talk what we love in this stretch of material (or don’t), and what kinds of things we hope for students to get out of a Unit on Jeremiah. We'll also range widely on the Hebrew Bible, its study and teaching, and on the guild of biblical studies.

During the Hangout, follow the hashtag #ootle16, asking us questions, making comments, and discussing the conversation among yourselves.

Week 05: Prophecy!

March 2-8: Prophecy

Prophets! Prophecy! 8th-century prophets in Israel and Judah. Institutional settings and functions of prophecy in the ancient Near East. Here is a beginning list of “Big Ideas and Essential Questions” relating to prophecy and the Latter Prophets.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Prologue to the Prophets. Also read his Chapter 10 “Kings and Prophets 2: The Assyrian Crisis”. Or, in your Introduction of choice, read on Prophecy, and on the 8th-century prophets (Amos, Hosea, Isaiah of Jerusalem, Micah).

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Prophecy”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16.” If you would rather do your “make” as a voice-recorded mp3 file or a YouTube video, just be sure to create a properly-tagged blog post that hosts or links to your presentation. (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must have commented, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers on either Daniel/Apocalyptic or Prophets by Sunday evening.)

Make Option 01: (Exercise 87 in Stanley.) Read Amos 2:6-16; 5:10-17; 6:1-8; 8:4-9:4. In about 750-1000 words, what does Amos say is wrong with Israelite society? What will happen to the people of Israel if they don’t change their ways? Is there anything that they can do to avoid this fate?

Make Option 02: (Exercise 89 in Stanley.) Read Hosea 4:1-14; 8:1-14; 10:1-8; 13:1-8. In about 750-1000 words, what does Hosea say is wrong with Israel? How does his picture compare with that of Amos?

Make Option 03: (Exercise 91 in Stanley.) Read Isaiah 1:1-31; 5:1-30; 10:1-27; 28:1-22. In about 750-1000 words, how does Isaiah’s message compare with that of Amos and Hosea?

Activity of the Week: Annotate MLK’s “Letter,” analyzing it as “Prophecy”

For the three weeks of the Latter Prophets, we are joing in a shared annotation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

This week: Using our course materials as a resource regarding the genres and activities typical of ancient Near Eastern and biblical prophecy, analyze Dr. King’s letter as prophecy in that sense. How does its form and content, historical setting and function “stack up” as prophecy (again in the senses of that word used in academic study of the Hebrew Bible)? How not? Annotate profligately! Where you are unsure of your observations, simply indicate this in your annotations. But engage course materials rigorously. Cite, cite, cite.

We will do our analysis on this shared Google Doc. As a group, you will decide how to order and organize analysis. You may use the Comments feature, interlinear additions (with or without hyperlinks), and anything else you think works well. Just be sure we can distinguish the original text from your annotations. And, be aware that dependence upon “color coding” can make your work unavailable to the visually or cognitively impaired. Keep it simple.

During the second week, we will engage and challenge one another on our annotations, on accuracy and in terms of how closely we engage course materials and methods. During the third week, we will collaborate on a few paragraphs summarizing our observations.

Google Hangout of the Week: "Office Hours" on Prophecy and 8th-century Prophets!

On Thursday, March 3, 10:00-11:00am Central Time, all learners are welcome to join me for an "On Air" live Google Hangout. We will talk about Prophecy and the 8th-century prophets (or we may not), and what sorts of discoveries we're making (or not) about the Hebrew Bible and its study at this point in the course.

I am emailing invitations Tuesday morning and again when the Hangout begins. To join the Hangout: You must click the link that's on your email invitation, or find the invitation in the "Notifications" area of your own Google pages. Clicking the link in the previous paragraph won't join you to the Hangout: that link is for observers. Also, don't invite me or others to a video call. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

During the Hangout, follow the hashtag #ootle16, asking us questions, making comments, and discussing the conversation among yourselves.

Week 04, the Writings: Daniel and Apocalyptic

February 23-29: Daniel and Apocalyptic

Apocalyptic! Daniel, with its court legends and apocalypses. Hellenism. Institutional settings and functions of apocalyptic literature in the ancient Near East.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Chapter 16, Daniel: From History to Apocalypse. If you haven’t already, read too is Prologue to the Writings. Or, in your Introduction of choice, read on the Book of Daniel, Apocalyptic, and Hellenism. Regarding Daniel and Hellenism, please also consult this handout.

Recommended Reading:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Daniel and Apocalyptic”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must comment, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers, by Tuesday morning. You may comment to their Wisdom posts or Daniel/apocalyptic posts.)

Make Option 01: (Based on Exercise 118 in Stanley.) Read Daniel 7:1-28; 10:1-14; 11:1-12:13. Using our course materials as a resource and citing these where appropriate, make a list of all of the elements of apocalyptic literature that you find in these passages, noting (chapter and verses) where you find each element. Use the lecture and your textbook of choice to learn what "elements of apocalyptic literature" to look for. For the sake of your reader, do not format this post as a bulleted or numbered list. Instead, write in sentences and paragraphs.

Make Option 02: (Based on Exercise 119 in Stanley.) In about 1000 words, imagine that you are a member of a Christian or Jewish group, in modern times, where people like you face serious abuse and repression. Do you think that your group may find a piece of ancient apocalyptic literature helpful in that situation? Why or why not? (Or better yet: Why AND why not?) Be specific about the circumstances you presuppose. Also, cite course materials and biblical or ancient non-biblical apocalyptic texts where appropriate.

Make Option 03: “Son of Man.” In about 1000 words, write up the results of your research into the phrase “son of man” (Hebrew ben-adam) in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, including Daniel 7:13 (Aramaic bar enosh). Note that translations might include “son of man,” “mortal,” “human being,” and others. Texts include not only Daniel, but Ezekiel, Psalms, Proverbs, and several other books. (Just be sure to cover its use in Daniel, since this is our week on Daniel!) A comparative term to investigate is “son(s) of god(s)” (Hebrew bene-elohim and similar); cf. Daniel 3:25 Aramaic bar-elohin. Use course materials, resources from our Resources page, and any other academic (non-sectarian) resources available to you.

Activity of the Week: Build an OER bibliography for Daniel

This week, we’re plundering our Resources page and the rest of the Web to construct a bibliography of “Open Academic Resources” (OER) on Daniel, apocalyptic, and Hellenism. Hopefully, we’ll all walk away with a shared resource that we can use and share in our future ministries and careers, whatever those may be.

We will create the bibliography on this shared Google Doc. As a group, you will decide how to order and organize your finds, what headers to use, etc. (I recommend the Comment feature as a way to discuss edits. Please do not delete the work of others without their permission.)

You may work on this Activity throughout the week, but be aware that folks working later may need to dig deeper in order to avoid duplicating the prior entries of their peers.

Google Hangout of the Week: Office Hours!

This week, I do not have an interview. So, how about we invite YOU to a Hangout? I will plan to offer a Google Hangout "Office Hours" session, at whatever time works for the most learners who are interested. Go to this Doodle poll on Tuesday or Wednesday, and tell us the best times for you. I will select the most popular option, and send you invitations to that Google Hangout, with instructions for joining and participating.

Or, during the Hangout, simply follow the hashtag #ootle16, asking questions, making comments, and discussing the conversation among yourselves.

Week 03, the Writings: Conventional and Dissenting Wisdom

February 16-22: Wisdom

Wisdom! Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes. Wisdom psalms and other odds and ends. Institutional settings and functions of Wisdom literature in the ancient Near East. Here again is a beginning list of “Enduring Understanding and Essential Questions” relating to the Writings.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Chapter 14, Proverbs and Job: The Wisdom of Israel, as well as his short section on Ecclesiastes. If you haven’t already, read too is Prologue to the Writings. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the Wisdom Literature, Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes.

Recommended readings:

Consider any or all of these readings in terms of our topic for the week.

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Wisdom”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog, remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16.” (Garrett students: Remember that your work is assessed according to the course rubric. You may need to add analysis or other elements that will allow you to include each element of the rubric. Remember too that you must comment, thoughtfully and substantively, to at least three [3] other OOTLE-ers by Tuesday morning.)

Make Option 01:

Go to the Professional Left Podcast, and select Episode 270. Listen to their converstation about faith, blasphemy, and the Book of Job, beginning at time 22:15 and ending at time 32:00 (Note: Explicit Language.) Writing as a biblical scholar, fact-check their discussion regarding the Book of Job:

  • What do they get right? Demonstrate their accuracy, citing (where appropriate) the book of Job, your textbook, our lecture, and any other high-quality academic resources.
  • What, if anything, do they get wrong? Demonstrate these inaccuracies, citing (where appropriate) the book of Job, your textbook, our lecture, and any other high-quality academic resources.
  • How might you say the discussion is incomplete? What information can you offer about the book of Job--its details, the historical context of its writing (not its narrative setting!), its genre(s), and other relevant scholarly information about the book--that may inform the conversation that Blue Gal and Driftglass are having?

Make Option 02:

In the lecture “Wisdom,” I suggest that the book of Ecclesiastes frequently “sets the bait” of conventional wisdom (Eccles 3:1–8; 7:1–13) in order to “spring the trap,” confronting the reader with a dissenting wisdom that subverts that conventional wisdom (Eccles 3:1–8 is surrounded by 2:1–26; 3:9–22; Eccles 7:1–14a is followed by 7:14b–29). Write an original composition that uses modern examples of conventional wisdom to "set the trap" for a dissenting perspective that subverts the conventional wisdom. Some examples of conventional wisdom that may prove useful:

Remember, your goal is to “fool” your reader (at least briefly) into assenting to such conventional wisdom, before surprising the reader by subverting the conventional wisdom with a dissenting perspective.

In a few follow-up paragraphs, explain to your reader how the biblical examples serve as templates for you. Describe briefly, citing course materials, the ways that conventional and dissenting wisdom function (sometimes called “speculative wisdom”) in the books of Job and Ecclesiastes.

Make Option 03:

Using course materials, as well as any other quality academic resources, describe the ancient Near Eastern literature that helps us better understand biblical Wisdom. (For example, the oft-cited "Discourse between a Man and his Ba" Where and when do these works come from? What are their titles? What are they about, and what happens in them? How and why do they improve our understanding of the biblical material? Be specific, citing resources and relevant biblical texts. Some resources:

Activity of the Week: “Job v. God: the Twitter Game”

Job versus God! Who’s right? Who wins? What’s with those friends, anyway? Finally, it all gets decided, once and for all, on Twitter.

See my instructions for the game, “Job vee God.” When you are ready, announce your entry into the game by tweeting “I’m in!” (or similar) with the hashtag #JobvGod.

The game will begin Tuesday and Wednesday as players announce that they are in. Game play concludes Saturday night at midnight Central Time. On Sunday and Monday, players are free to “debrief” using the game hashtag, discussing what they learned, suggestions for future play, etc.

Google Hangout of the Week: Wisdom Literature!

On Wednesday evening, February 17th, 7-8 pm Central Time, I will be joined by Joseph Scrivner for an "On Air" live Google Hangout (click that link to see the web page where the Hangout will be available). We will talk about why we love the Hebrew Bible and its academic study, and what kinds of things we hope for students to get out of an "Introduction to Old Testament/Hebrew Bible" course.

During the Hangout, you are invited to follow the hashtag #ootle16 on Twitter, asking us questions, making comments, and discussing the conversation among yourselves. If your schedule does not permit you to follow live, please feel free to watch it later (link coming) and "continue the conversation" on the hashtag #ootle16 as you have opportunity.

Week 02, the Writings: Psalms of Complaint

February 9-15: Psalms of Complaint, or "Lament Psalms"

Psalms! The Book of Psalms. Complaint psalms and other genres. Institutional settings and functions of psalms in history. Hebrew poetry and its forms.

This is our first of three weeks on "The Writings" in the Hebrew Bible. Here is a list of the "enduring understandings and essential questions" that motivated the instructor when creating this Unit.

Resources

Readings:

Read Bandstra’s Prologue to the Writings, and his chapter Psalms: Complaint and Thanksgiving. Or, in Stanley or your Introduction of choice, read on the Writings, the Psalms, and on Biblical Hebrew poetry. Regarding Complaint Psalms, please also consult this handout.

Recommended readings:

Lectures:

View or listen to the two-part lecture, “Psalms”:

“Make” of the Week

Pick one (1) of the following options for this week’s “make,” sharing it on your blog (remembering to tag your post with our tag, “ootle16”). Garrett students: Remember you must comment, thoughtfully and subsantively, to at least three (3) other OOTLE16-ers by Sunday evening, to a post on their blog that is less than one week old at the time of your comment.

  1. Read Psalm 44, using the NRSV or CEB translations. Referring above to “How to Read a Poem” in this week’s readings, see the questions listed in the section, “Talking Back to a Poem.” In a blog post (or a YouTube video, or mp3 recording to which you link in a blog post), bring each of the listed questions to Psalm 44. Write the answers that Psalm 44 seems to provide. As always, be specific, and cite your evidence from Psalm 44. In a follow-up paragraph or two, write in such a way as to round out the elements of our course rubric.

  2. Using the readings and handout offered above, study the formal features of the genre “Complaint Psalm” (often also called a “Lament Psalm”). Then, write your own Complaint Psalm. Some suggestions:

    • Notice how the Psalms do not specify their situation too closely: the idea is that generations of readers should be able to speak your complaint psalm in their own circumstances. At the same time, don’t make it too broad (or else we would only ever need one!).
    • Use the formal features, or else it isn’t a complaint psalm. At the same time, play against the form: what happens if you emphasize some of the formal elements while minimizing others? What happens when you break one formal element into parts, allowing it to surface and re-surface throughout the psalm?
    • Don’t look only for “pious” situations. Anything that causes pain is fair fodder for complaint: illness, death, unemployment, underemployment, theft, betrayal, heroes who prove to have clay feet, banks that charge you $3 to access your own damned money, children who heart-breakingly refuse to learn lessons that would make them happier, getting your car keyed…use anything! Just be sure that the end result plays broadly enough that other readers can “feel it” in their own similar (but not identical) circumstances.
    • In a follow-up paragraph or two, write in such a way as to round out the elements of our course rubric.
  3. Write any poem using Biblical-Hebrew poetic parallelism. The Bandstra reading above includes a section on parallelism, and this article shows how grammatical parts of speech can be your friend in generating parallels. Use as many kinds of poetic parallelism as you can.

    • Couplets are your friends!
    • Again, don’t feel compelled to select only “pious” or religiously-themed topics (though you certainly can use these). In fact, you might find a more "secular" topic easier for breaking out of habitual associations. Write want you want, and see what’s possible with parallelism. Let the poem surprise you by telling you what it wants to say. Brainstorm, draft, and revise, while listening to what the poem wants to become.
    • In a follow-up paragraph or two, write in such a way as to round out the elements of our course rubric.

Activity of the Week: Tweet Workshop

Tuesday through Wednesday, each of us will draft a Tweet that relates to this week’s topic. On Thursday through Friday, each of us will offer suggestions for improvement to at least three (3) of our classmates. On Saturday through Monday morning, each of us will launch our Tweets into Twitter.

Here is the Google Doc where we will do our work, and where instructions are written.

Note again that there are "cascading deadlines" for this Activity. That is, there is a stage to be done on Tuesday-Wednesday, and stage to be done Thursday-Friday, and a stage to be done Saturday-Monday morning.

Most of you will not yet have many Followers on Twitter. If you DO have followers, help your fellow OOTLE16-ers get things rolling by re-tweeting their tweets!

Hangout

I do not have an interview scheduled for this week. Stay tuned for the next week.

Week 01: Getting Started with the Hebrew Bible and OOTLE16

February 2-8, 2016

Resources:

  1. See Dave Cormier's very short YouTube video, "Success in a MOOC." It will give you a great idea about how you might approach an open course like this one.
  2. Read Bandstra's introductory chapter, or the introductory chapter(s) in your textbook of choice (whatever chapters talk about the shape and content of the Hebrew Bible, and about its "composition history" in broad strokes). If you're feeling crazy, you might look at Bandstra's concluding chapter, "After the Hebrew Bible," as it gets into books that are part of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox canons but not part of the Protestant canon, plus the Dead Sea Scrolls, New Testament, and some other stuff.
  3. View or listen to the two-part lecture, "Introducing the Tanak A" and "Introducing the Tanak B." View on YouTube, or get them as MP3s back at the OOTLE15 site. (Weekly lectures will normally be in two parts, each part about 25-30 minutes in length.) Sound quality is uneven on some of these early efforts on my part, but they are audible, and it gets better.

Activities:

OOTLE16 Week One Treasure Hunt!

See how many of these you can do:

  • Orient Yourself: If you haven't already, follow our instructions to "Get Involved" with OOTLE16, creating a blog and a Twitter account, and signing up to participate. Browse around this site, including our Twitter feed, and our learners' blog posts so far at our aggregation page.
  • Declare Yourself: On your blog, respond in some way to this week's resources: What surprises did they hold for you? What, if anything, bothers you? What excites you? What further questions do you have now about the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament that you did not have before engaging this week's resources? (Remember to tag your post with the "ootle16" tag, so that your post appears in our aggregation page!)
  • Make Connections: Visit the aggregation page, and find some posts that look interesting to you. Visit those blog posts, and make comments: ask questions, thank the writer for their insights, start a conversation.
  • Housewarm your blog! If you haven't already, write some information into your About page on your blog. Even if you use a pseudonym and avoid including identifiable information, you can communicate some of your loves and interests.
  • Housewarm your Twitter! If your avatar is still the "Egg," replace it with a photograph or some other image. Not sure where to find images that you're allowed to use? Start with sites like Public Domain Images. Also remember to write up your short bio. Want to take it further?
    • "Follow" someone else who is participating in OOTLE16.
    • Retweet somebody else's tweet.
    • @-mention ("at-mention") somebody else in a tweet.
    • Promote somebody else's blog post by writing a tweet that includes that post's URL (web address). Remember also to use our course hashtag, #ootle16.
  • Invite a friend: Know anybody who is "Hebrew Bible curious"? Let them know we're here, and help them get started.

Biblical Scholar OOTLE16 Hangouts!

Beginning in our second week (hopefully), I plan to start interviewing other biblical scholars in a series of Google Hangouts. You will be invited to watch and listen in real time, sharing questions and comments with us via Twitter. Or, you can watch and listen to the recorded Hangout later.

On weeks when we do not have an interview lined up, maybe we can invite learners to "Hangout" as a kind of "office hours." Stay tuned for more information.