REL 337W: Biblical Topics - Exodus, Fall 2001.  SYLLABUS.               RJDKnauth
Class time:  T/Th 3:00-4:50 pm, D-302.  Office hours MWF 2:30-4:00 pm, D-320.
Telephone: (570) 321-4298 (xGAYT); home: (570) 326-3822 (h).  Email:

Topic:  Exodus!  An upper-level writing intensive seminar.  

An in-depth study of the book of Exodus along with other related biblical and ancient Near Eastern
texts, employing a variety of academic methodologies which can then be applied to numerous other 
biblical texts.  Exodus is an extremely rich book, including a wide variety of genres and themes which 
are pivotal for the national identity of Israel.  Starting with the book of Exodus, we can come to a 
much deeper understanding of the Old Testament as a whole.  

As an upper-level seminar, the primary purpose of this course is for you to develop deeper thinking with regard to a major biblical issue, and to see the study of the Bible as an ongoing process in which our answers often change over time, just as the text’s own answers to life-problems have changed over time.

As a “writing-intensive” course, it will seek to help you develop your writing skills.  Issues of writing will regularly be taken up in class, and a variety of written assignments are designed to stress various aspects of the writing process.

Texts (choose one):  Brevard Childs, The Book of Exodus
                                 Nahum Sarna, Exodus (JPS Torah Commentary)

The use of a complete Bible (any version) will be required in class.

Other useful reference books which you may find in the library (reference or reserve):
            Who Wrote the Bible?, Richard Friedman
            Understanding the Old Testament, Anderson
            Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, Childs
            Old Testament Survey, Hill & Walton
            Old Testament Parallels, Matthews & Benjamin (OTP in syllabus, on reserve)
            Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Pritchard

            Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, Frank Moore Cross (CMHE)
            From Epic to Canon, Frank Moore Cross (E-C)
            The Anchor Bible Dictionary (ABD)
            Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible  (IDB)
        Exodus 1-18 (The Anchor Bible), Propp
These will point the reader to further useful bibliography.  

For your research, plan also to use the ATLA Religion Index:

ATLAReligion through FirstSearch

    Course Requirements: 

1.      Attendance and informed participation (readings having been completed) at all class sessions will be expected, worth 20% of the final grade.   Included in this participation grade will be some short in-class exercises, occasional short presentations, and regular discussion.  The attendance policy for this course is that there are no excused absences without a written note from a doctor or parent/guardian regarding a serious family or medical emergency (e.g. requiring hospitalization).  
Each set of 2 absences (or partial absences) lowers your final grade by 1%.

2.      There will be in-class exercises, 7 short assignments and 2 paper proposals, worth 20% of  the final grade.  Assignments should be approx. 3 pgs each, typed, due in class on Thursdays, and will be the basis for class discussion on that day.  Late assignments will be accepted, but penalized, as preparedness will be crucial to our discussion time.

3.      There will be two take-home exams (each worth 10% of the final grade).  They will be open-book, limited-time (2 hours) essay exams (thematic, issue-oriented), taken on the honor system.  Review sheets will be handed out in advance.  Exams should be typed and handed in ON TIME as instructed in the syllabus.

4.      Two short (6 pg) Formal Papers will be written (each worth 15% of the final grade).  The first will be an Exegesis Essay (closely analyzing a biblical text and then giving a contemporary or personal application), the second will be a biblical research paper, with annotated bibliography.  The second paper will then be revised and expanded (8 pgs max) on the basis of peer reviews, and finally presented in class (this Revision and oral presentation, plus peer reviews, will be worth an additional 10% of the final grade).  Proposals for these papers will be submitted in advance (see appended form); peer reviews and a visit to the writing center are required.

Schedule of Classes:            

Week 1:  Introduction, Birth of Moses  
  Read Exod 1:1-2:10, Childs Intro and Sections I-II (pp. 1-26), Sarna pp. 3-10, OTP p. 85.  
T  (Aug. 28)- Introduction. Exodus as THE formative Israelite experience.  
Th (Aug. 30)- Oppression, remembering, Genesis links. ANE Parallels. Abandonment? Irony.
     Methodology: Introduction to the "Historical Critical Method," and the usefulness of historical background and comparative study of ancient Near Eastern literature.  What is Biblical Criticism?
     Writing: Self-assessment survey of writing skills; In-class exercise 1 (writing sample, switch and edit; compile).  Create awareness of how point of view, biases, purposes can affect a text.  All writing is selective, written with a purpose.  The Bible as a composite text: multiple authorship, editing process, inclusion of older documents, ANE imagery (different implications, literary uses). 

Week 2:  Moses  
  Read Exod 2:11-7:7, Childs III-VI (pp. 27-120), Sarna pp. 11-37.  
T  (Sept. 4)- Call of Moses, charismatic leadership: compare Judges, David. 
Th (Sept. 6)- Who was Moses?  Moses "standing in the gap."  Discuss characterization.
    Methodology: the usefulness of standard literary analysis in terms of plot structure, character development.
    Writing: Character Development.  Moses as example - different ways of characterizing.
Writing Asst. 1: List 5 aspects of Moses' character intentionally brought out by the author in Exodus 1-7, and discuss how the author goes about creating this characterization.  Write a short character sketch of your own for one of the Women characters in Exodus 1-7.

Week 3:  Plagues  
  Read Exod 7:8-11:10, Childs VII (pp. 121-177), Sarna pp. 37-53.  
T  (Sept. 11)- Dealing with miracles: explain as natural phenomena or religious polemic?  
Th (Sept. 13)- Theological intensions of the text. Adventurous bedtime stories?
   Methodology:  What is literary/source criticism?  The Documentary Hypothesis and JEPD.  See Friedman.
    Writing: Choosing a focus and formulating a good thesis ("topic" is different from "thesis"!).
    In-class exercise 2 (small groups): getting from topic to thesis. Discuss as a class: what makes a good thesis?
    Writing: Application follows analysis - must develop understanding first before seeking to apply.   
    Writing Asst. 2: Compose an outline for a three-point sermon on some aspect of the Plagues.
    **Paper Proposal for 1st formal "Exegesis" Paper, with application, due Friday!

Week 4:  Exodus  
  Read Exod 12:1-15:21, Psalm 77-78, 105; Childs VIII-X (pp. 178-253), Sarna pp. 53-83.
T  (Sept. 18)- Passover and the Consecration of the First Born. The Exodus theme.  
Th (Sept. 20)- Distinguishing sources: where "History"? ANE imagery: battling Sea Dragons.
    Methodology: Form Criticism and the importance of Genre.  Sources again, w/ theological flavor.
    Writing: Create awareness of how genre/style/structure can affect content, effectiveness.  Writing as "art."  
    Compare prose and poetry versions of the plagues, crossing the Red Sea.  Discuss poetic structure.
    Writing Asst. 3: Re-write essential "Exodus" story as a brief acrostic and/or chiastic poem with parallelism.
        Reflect on how the mode of expression influences the content and message of the story.

Week 5:  Wilderness Wanderings  
  Read Exod 15:22-18:27; Num 10:29-14:45, Num 16-17, 20, 25; Psalm 78, 106. 
  Read Childs XI-XV (pp. 254-336), Sarna pp. 83-102, Cross CMHE ch. 8 (on reserve). 
T  (Sept. 25)- Function of complaining stories, links with Numbers.  
Th (Sept. 27)- Moses/Aaron: rival priestly houses? Jethro/Reuel, Sinai/Horeb. Midianite Hypothesis. 
    Methodology:  Source Criticism again w/ attention to political motive (see Cross). What is Redaction Crit? 
    Writing: Organization.  Using outlines and subheadings.  Creating coherent paragraphs. 
**Review handout.
**1st Formal "Exegesis" Paper due Friday - 6 pgs, on topic of choice, closely analyzing a biblical text.   

Week 6:  Review and Test  
  Review Readings: Exod 1-18, Childs I-XV, Sarna 1-102 plus Excurses.  
T  (Oct. 2)-  Review for Test.  Come with questions!  *Hand out take-home exams.*  
Th (Oct. 4)-  Library Session: tour of resources, useful tools, research strategies
                   (ABD, Concordances, key words - getting back to original languages).
*Take-home Exams due in class* on Exod. 1-18.

Week 7:  Sinai Theophany and Revelation 
  Read Exod 19:1-25, 20:18-22, 24:1-18; compare Exod 33:18-34:7, Deut 5:4-5, 22-31.
  Read Childs XVI (pp. 337-384), XIX (pp. 497-511); Sarna pp. 102-107, 115, 150-155.  
T  (Oct. 9)- Sacred mountain as "Axis Mundi" - connecting place of heaven and earth.  
Th (Oct. 11)- Theophany - Who/what is God?  Storms, Volcanoes and Seeing God.
*1st Test returned, discuss.*
    Methodology:  What is "Tradition Criticism" and how might it help with our theophany dilemma?
    Writing: Doing effective Research (trip to library, develop bibliography together on "Golden Calf").
        Shorter and more focused is better.  Following the bibliography trail - the value of refereed journals.
        Pitfalls of internet research (2 recent examples re Sabbath and Idolatry). Determining viewpoint and
        evaluating sources for reliability and relevance.  Intro to ATLA Religion Index and Anchor Bible Dict.
    Writing Asst. 4: Write up an "annotated bibliography" (for the Golden Calf or a topic of your choice).

Week 8:  Ten Commandments  
  Read Exod 20:1-17; compare Deut 5:1-22, Exod 34: 10-28, Lev 19.  
  Read Childs XVII (pp. 385-439), Sarna pp. 107-115.  
T  (Oct. 16)- What is the Law? Types and origins. Reflections on the nature of God.  
Th (Oct. 18)- The "Ten Words" - traditional unit, variant versions. What do they tell us?
    Methodology:  What is "Form Criticism" and how might it be reflected in the 10 Commandments?
    Writing: Developing a Revision / Editing Process (or The End of the "Single Draft Paper" Myth):
    A good professional photographer throws out 80-90% of his pictures, keeping only the best;
    A good writer likewise throws out 80-90% of his words, keeping only the best.  Writing is an art!
    In-class writing exercise 3 on revision (revising Childs).  Choose his most awkward paragraph for revision.
    **Paper proposal for 2nd Formal "Research" Paper due Friday, including Bibliography!

Week 9:  Covenant Code  
  Read Exod 20:22-23:33, Childs XVIII (pp. 440-496), Sarna pp. 115-150, OTP pp. 97-123.  
T  (Oct. 23)- Historical precedents: Hammurabi, etc.; continuity/distinctiveness.  
Th (Oct. 25)- A hunger for justice.  
    Methodology:  What is literary/rhetorical criticism?  How is it helpful in analyzing the law?
    Writing:  Effective use of Evidence to make a good argument:  Hammurabi / Covenant Code connections.
    Writing Asst. 5:  Separate out a coherent set of laws and put it in logical outline form (or analyze as poetry).

Week 10:  The Tabernacle  
  Read Exod 25:1-31:18, Childs XX (pp. 512-552), Sarna pp. 155-202.  
  Also read Cross E-C ch. 5, Friedman ch. 10 and "Tabernacle" in ABD.
T  (Oct. 30)-  Symbol of a holy God.  Precursor of the Jerusalem Temple.
Th (Nov. 1)-  Debate:  Resolved - the Tabernacle was real/symbolic/projectional. 
    Methodology: What is "Textual Criticism" and how did the Dead Sea Scrolls revolutionize it?  
    Writing: Debate format and counter-argument (assignment and prepared class debate re tabernacle).
    Writing Asst. 6: choose a side of the tabernacle debate.  Compile your best evidence and counter-arguments. 

Week 11:  The Golden Calf  
  Read Exod 32:1-33:23; compare Num 8:13-19, Num 16-17, 20, 1Kings 12.
  Read Childs XXI-XXII (pp. 553-600), Sarna pp. 202-215.
T  (Nov.  6)- Idolatry? Alternative throne iconography? Levite Dedication. Presence of God. 
Th (Nov. 8)- Golden Calf Debate.
    Methodology:  How can archaeological finds elucidate biblical narrative?
    Writing: Creating coherence and logical flow.  Revise, Revise and Revise again!  Word choice and mood. 
    Writing Asst. 7: Debate the purpose of the "Golden Calf" story in relation to the 2nd Commandment and its depiction of Aaron.  Does the story intend Aaron to be a hero or a villain?  Make an argument using specific evidence from the text.  Use debate format.  Be prepared to debate this issue in class on Thursday.

Week 12:  Theophany, Covenant Renewal, Blessing and Dedication  
  Read Exod 34:1-40:38; compare 1Kings 19.
  Read Childs XXIII-XXIV (pp. 601-638), Sarna pp. 215-237. 
T  (Nov. 13)- New tablets of covenant, covenant renewal.  Blessing and Dedication.  
Th (Nov. 15)- Discuss process of paper revision and peer review with Jane Keller of ARC.
    For exercise purposes, bring a copy of your 1st paper or draft of your 2nd on which to practice peer review.
    Methodology:  Canonical Criticism and the value of reading the text as it stands.
    Writing: Critical Analysis / Evaluation and the value of Peer Review.  
        Guidelines: thesis, evidence, argument.  Clear?  Organized?  Convincing?
        Making Peer Review valuable (and not just a pat on the back).  Presentation by Jane Keller.  
    **2nd Formal "Research" Paper (draft) due by Friday at the Writing Center - 6 pgs max.**

Week 13: Paper revisions, Thanksgiving Break  
T  (Nov. 20)- Read and critique peer papers in class.  Write peer reviews, give to author.
    *Bring 7 copies of Research Paper to class for distribution and peer review!  Leave one in instructor's box.**
Th (Nov. 22)- *Thanksgiving* No Class.  Prepare your oral presentation!

Week 14: **Student Oral Presentations and Discussion.**  Turn in peer review or self-critique for each.

            T  (Nov. 27)-   1.



            Th (Nov.  29)-  4.



               *Exam Review Sheets handed out.*
              **Final Research Paper Revisions due Friday midnight, 8 pgs max.**

Week 15:  Major Themes, Review for Exam on Exod 19-40, Childs XVI-XXIV, Sarna 102-237.
T  (Dec.  4)- Discuss major themes of book, review for exam. Hand out exam.
Th (Dec.  6)- Self-assessment survey and writing sample; course evaluation.
                    **Take-home exam due in class on Exod 19-40.**

**For each student presentation, all students must turn in a written review or self-critique (typed - one copy to the author of the paper, and one copy to the instructor), and be prepared to discuss the paper in class at the time of the oral presentation.  These reviews will be counted as part of the grade for the oral presentations.

**Formal Papers and Revisions will be due on Friday at midnight in the mailbox outside the instructor's office door (D-320).  Since any papers delivered after 5:00 pm will not be received until the following Monday morning, any papers found in the box on the Monday morning will be considered to be on time.  Please do not ask for last-minute short extensions because of printing problems and the like.  Just get your papers in the box by first thing Monday morning.  Any papers received after that, unless there is a serious excuse such as a major illness (with a note from the doctor), family emergency (with a note from parents), or other serious problem, will be penalized at the discretion of the instructor.

Note:  Plagiarism (copying material from books, articles, web sites, or other students’ work without citing your source) will not be tolerated in the formal papers, in the exams, or in the short assignments.

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