Most people are somewhat bewildered by the complexity, the diversity, and the generally foreign character of the Old Testament. Even those who have benefited from a theological education tend to avoid its unfamiliar trails, except perhaps for a few well-traveled roads such as the Psalms, the Proverbs, and some well known prophetic texts like Isaiah 53. Some will expand their horizons to less well-traveled regions of the Old Testament, but they are too often dependent on methodologies and hermeneutical paradigms that do not respect the literary specificity of the biblical text. Generally, pastors will steer clear of much of the First Testament as a source of preaching material to avoid the hermeneutical and theological difficulties any close reading of the Old Text will unavoidably create.


The purpose of this course is to provide a general introduction to the Old Testament, which is designed to help the student make sense of the corpus on its own terms, i.e., in respect to its historical and literary moorings, and to make it possible for the student to begin to discern the unity, the theological significance, and the possible relevance of the Hebrew Bible.


The course will cover three distinct areas: methods of interpretation, basic themes (the land, the promise, the covenant, war, justice, etc.), and its theology.