Beginning with an overview of the methodology used for the study of the Old Testament, the course introduces students to the content and structure of the five books of the Torah and their relationship to the other books of Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. The approach taken to the material is the Documentary Hypothesis, as described and approved in Dei Verbum. Students are prepared to incorporate the Pentateuch into reflection, study, and preaching.
This course introduces and surveys the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Through a close reading of this foundational narrative, we will gain fresh insight into the multiple perspectives it offers on the nature of God, the destiny of humanity, and the history of salvation. By studying and applying the Documentary Hypothesis, the dominant modern theory concerning the formation of the Pentateuch, we will sharpen our ability to appreciate both the individual authorial voices that inhabit the Pentateuch as well as the theological effect of their combination. In so doing, we will reflect on the implications of this compositional paradigm for our understanding of the Church’s teaching concerning the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture.
Learning Objectives: Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to
Materials and Access
Coursework: In addition to reading assigned texts and listening to online lectures, you are expected to complete the following graded coursework:
MODULE 1: Orientation
Activity (Video Conference Call): We will cover the overview of the course and the required activities of the students as well as interaction with the facilitator.
MODULE 2: The Primeval History
Assigned Reading: Genesis 2-11 (J)
Activity (Forum Discussion): Evaluate the overall development of humanity’s relationship with YHWH: by the time we reach the end of Genesis 11, have relations improved, deteriorated, or stayed the same?
MODULE 3: The Story of Abram
Assigned Reading: Genesis 12-22 (JE)
Activity (Forum Discussion): How does the story of Abram and Sarai reverse the pattern of human-divine relations in primeval history?
MODULE 4: The Children of Abraham
Assigned Readings: Genesis 24-50 (JE)
Activity (Content Exam): You will complete a 30-question multiple-choice exam on the Yahwist (J) and Elohist (E) portions of Genesis.
MODULE 5: The Exodus
Assigned Reading: Exodus 1-18 (JE)
Activity (Video Conference Call): We will reflect on the significance of the Exodus as the paradigm of salvation history. We will also address the theological and pastoral challenges posed by the violent nature of this story.
MODULE 6: Sinai/Horeb
Assigned Reading: Exodus 19-34 (JE)
Activity (Forum Discussion): How can the Covenant Code (Exodus 21-23) help us to understand and apply the Ten Commandments? Select one of the Ten Commandments and identify & discuss laws from the Covenant Code that clarify the intent and scope of that commandment.
MODULE 7: In the Wilderness
Assigned Reading: Numbers 10-24 (JE)
Activity (Content Exam): You will complete a 30-question multiple-choice exam on the assigned Yahwist (J) and Elohist (E) portions of Exodus and Numbers.
MODULE 8: Creation and Covenants
Activity (Forum Discussion): What can the threefold repetition of God’s covenant-making with Abraham (Genesis 15, 17, and 22) teach us about the interconnectedness of the virtues of trust, obedience, and fear of God?
MODULE 9: The Tabernacle
Activity (Forum Discussion): What can the sacrificial protocols of Leviticus 1 & 16 teach us about the relationship between atonement and forgiveness (or between divine justice and divine mercy)?
MODULE 10: The Holiness Code
Activity (Content Exam): You will complete a 30-question multiple-choice exam on the assigned Priestly (P & H) portions of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.
MODULE 11: Remembering the Covenant
Activity (Video Conference Call): We will review the major theological contributions of the Priestly and Deuteronomic strands of the Pentateuch.
MODULE 12: Reimagining the Covenant
Activity (Content Exam): You will complete a 30-question multiple-choice exam on the assigned portions of Deuteronomy.