REL 337: Biblical Topics - Exodus, Fall 1999.  SYLLABUS.               RJDKnauth
(Offered in conjunction with **HEBREW 221: Readings in OT Narrative - Exodus)
T/Th 1:00-2:50pm. Office D-320, tel: 321-4298, 326-3822 (h), email:

This is an upper-level seminar intended for students with REL 113 or the equivalent.  We will discuss the book of Exodus in depth, along with other related Biblical and ANE texts, plus the various academic methodologies available for such study, which then can be applied to a wide variety of other biblical texts. Exodus is an extremely rich book, with a wide variety of types of text and themes which were pivotal for the national identity of Israel.  Starting with the book of Exodus, we can come to a much deeper understanding of the rest of the Old Testament.

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:
            Understanding the Old Testament, Anderson
            Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, Childs
            The Anchor Bible Dictionary
            Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
These will point the reader to further useful bibliography.

            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 short assignments, in-class presentations, and regular discussion.

  2)  There will be two take-home exams (each worth 15% 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.

  3)  Two short (7 pg) papers will be written (each worth 15% of the final grade), one of which will be chosen to be revised and expanded (10 pgs) and then presented in class (the revision and oral presentation, plus peer review, will be worth an additional 20% of the final grade).

**HEBREW 221 (Prerequisite HEBR 102 or equivalent), offered in conjunction with REL 337.  Any student with a minimum of 1 yr of Biblical Hebrew may take this course for dual credit (number of credits earned will be negotiated with the registrar) or may, at their own option, take it for the Hebrew alone (requirements to be negotiated).  Attendance at all class sessions for the larger class will be required (in which larger issues of exegesis, historical background, themes and methodology will be discussed), and additional sessions just for reading Hebrew will be arranged.  Students taking the course for the Hebrew will have short translation tests in addition to the take-home exams, and papers must incorporate some substantive linguistic issues.

For the Hebrew, students will need either: Biblia Hebraica or Sarna, Exodus.

Schedule of Classes:            

Week 1:  Introduction  
  Read Exod 1:1-2:10, Childs Intro and Sections I-II (pp. 1-26), Sarna pp. 3-10.  
            T  (Aug. 31)- Introduction. Exodus as THE formative Israelite experience.  
            Th (Sept. 2)- Oppression, remembering, links with Genesis.

Week 2:  Moses  
  Read Exod 2:11-7:7, Childs III-VI (pp. 27-120), Sarna pp. 11-37.  
            T  (Sept. 7)- Call of Moses, charismatic leadership: compare Judges, David. 
            Th (Sept. 9)- Who was Moses?

Week 3:  Plagues  
  Read Exod 7:8-11:10, Childs VII (pp. 121-177), Sarna pp. 37-53.  
            T  (Sept. 14)- Dealing with miracles: explain as natural phenomena or religious polemic?  
            Th (Sept. 16)- Theological intensions of the text. Adventurous bedtime stories?

Week 4:  Exodus  
  Read Exod 12:1-15:21, Childs VIII-X (pp. 178-253), Sarna pp. 53-83.  
            T  (Sept. 21)- ANE imagery: battling the Sea Dragon; the Exodus theme.  
            Th (Sept. 23)- Distinguishing sources: where is "History"?

Week 5:  Wilderness Wanderings  
  Read Exod 15:22-18:27, Childs XI-XV (pp. 254-336), Sarna pp. 83-102. 
            T  (Sept. 28)- Function of complaining stories, links with Numbers.  
            Th (Sept. 30)- Moses, Aaron: rival priestly houses? **1st Paper Due.**Review handout.

Week 6:  Review and Test  
  Review Readings: Exod 1-18, Childs I-XV, Sarna 1-102 plus Excurses.  
            T  (Oct. 5)-  Review for Test.  Come with questions!  *Hand out take-home exams.*  
            Th (Oct. 7)-  *Take-home Exams due by end of class-time* (no class) on Exod. 1-18.

Week 7:  Sinai  
  Read Exod 19:1-25, 20:18-21, Childs XVI (pp. 337-384), Sarna pp. 102-107, 115-117.  
            T  (Oct. 12)- Sacred mountain as "Axis Mundi" - connecting place of heaven and earth.  
            Th (Oct. 14)- Theophany - Who/what is God?   *1st Test returned, discuss.*

Week 8:  Ten Commandments  
  Read Exod 20:1-17, Childs XVII (pp. 385-439), Sarna pp. 107-115.  
            T  (Oct. 19)- What is the Law? Types and origins. Reflections on the nature of God.  
            Th (Oct. 21)- The "Ten Words" - traditional unit, variant versions. What do they tell us?

Week 9:  Covenant Code  
  Read Exod 20:22-24:18, Childs XVIII-XIX (pp. 440-511), Sarna pp. 115-155.  
            T  (Oct. 26)- Historical precedents: Hammurabi, etc.; continuity and distinctiveness.  
            Th (Oct. 28)- A hunger for justice.

Week 10:  The Tabernacle  
  Read Exod 25:1-31:18, Childs XX (pp. 512-552), Sarna pp. 155-202.  
            T  (Nov. 2)-  Symbol of a holy God.  
            Th (Nov. 4)-  Precursor of the Jerusalem Temple.

Week 11:  The Golden Calf  
  Read Exod 32:1-33:23, Childs XXI-XXII (pp. 553-600), Sarna pp. 202-215.  
            T  (Nov.  9)- Idolatry or alternative throne iconography?  
            Th (Nov. 11)- Dedication of Levites. Presence of God.  **2nd Paper Due.**

Week 12:  Covenant Renewal, Blessing and Dedication  
  Read Exod 34:1-40:38, Childs XXIII-XXIV (pp. 601-638), Sarna pp. 215-237. 
            T  (Nov. 16)- New tablets of covenant, covenant renewal.  
            Th (Nov. 18)- Blessing and dedication.

Week 13: Paper revisions, Thanksgiving Break  
            T  (Nov. 23)- Discuss process of paper revision, peer review.  
                                    ***Turn in draft of final paper to be distributed to class.***  
            Th (Nov. 25)- *Thanksgiving, No Class.* 

Week 14: ***Student Oral Presentations*** 

            T  (Nov. 30)- 1.


            Th (Dec.  2)-   3.

                                    4. Self-critique, peer review.

               *Exam Review Sheets handed out.*  
              **Turn in Final Paper Revisions.**

Week 15:  Major Themes, Review for Exam on Exod 19-40, Childs XVI-XXIV, Sarna 102-237.  
            T  (Dec.  7)- Discuss major themes of book, review for exam. Hand out exam.  
            Th (Dec.  9)- **Take-home exam due by end of class on Exod 19-40.**

***For each student presentation, all students must turn in a written review or self-critique (one copy to the author of the paper, and one copy to the professor), 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.

**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.

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