REL 113: Old Testament Faith and History, Fall 2014.   SYLLABUS.   RJDKnauth
Class time MWF 12:45-1:50 pm in B-309. Office hours M/W 10:30-11:45 am, in A.C. D-320.

Email: Tel: 321-4298(gayt), home: 326-3822(dan-dubb). 
Religion Tutors at ARC:  Patrick McGinley, Rachel Bowman, Mike Tusay.


Learning Goals: 

The primary goal of this course is for you to (1) READ THE ENTIRE OLD TESTAMENT and (2) become familiar with some tools and historical background that will help you to understand it.  Various methods of modern scholarly study are used.  We will seek to understand the original intentions of various portions, and the religious thoughts they express, within their larger literary context as well as the historical and cultural context of the ancient Near East.  Time will not allow discussion of the entire text in detail, but we will introduce its various genres, historical/cultural background, and major scholarly issues involved with its study (illustrated by a variety of case studies explored in reflective assignments and discussion).  Critical thinking, information literacy and research skills with respect to biblical analysis are also developed.


Note: *This course is a lot of work!*  It covers a large amount of sometimes difficult material, most of which will probably be completely unfamiliar to the average American church-goer.  Weekly quizzes and reflective assignments provide extra incentive to do the reading, which averages approximately 150 pages per week.


Primary Text:  The Bible.  Any version is fine, but a good study Bible w/ notes + historical background is helpful.

                The bookstore carries the Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV).

Secondary Texts:  A Survey of the Old Testament (3rd ed.), Hill & Walton (“Hill” in syllabus)
                              Who Wrote the Bible? R. Friedman  
           Old Testament Parallels (“OTP”) Matthews & Benjamin, w/ historical outlines pp. 357-362* [333-337]

           *Page #s for 3rd edition at bookstore and on reserve; [page #s in brackets are for 2nd edition on Moodle]


  The course is divided into four sections:      1.  The Pentateuch (Torah)
                                                                        2.  The Historical Books (Former Prophets)
                                                                   3.  The Prophets (Writing Prophets)
                                                                     4.  Wisdom Literature ("Writings")

            Course Requirements: 


1)      Attendance and informed participation (readings having been completed) at all class sessions will be expected (worth 10% of the final grade).  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 3 absences lowers your final grade 1%.


2)      Weekly Quizzes on the readings for that week (worth 10% of the final grade) will take place each week as listed in this syllabus (usually at the beginning of class on Wednesdays, so be sure to complete the readings by Wednesday of each week).  The lowest quiz grade will be dropped from the average.


3)      Weekly Written Assignments, exercises or reflections on the readings as specified in the syllabus (worth 10% of the final grade) will be collected in class most weeks, and will be the basis for class discussion on the day assigned.  Instructor may call on students at random.  Assignments should be 1-2 pages, typed in 12-point, Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins all around.  Late assignments will be penalized at instructor’s discretion. 


4)      A short (6 pg.) Exegesis Essay (closely analyzing a biblical text and then giving a contemporary or personal application) will be required (worth 20% of the final grade, due on Friday, Nov. 7th).  The primary text (or texts) to be analyzed must come from the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.  The essay should aim to discern and explain an intended meaning of that text concerning some major issue prior to adding an application of (or personal reflection on) that proposed meaning (see Exegesis Project Proposal form below).

      a. Your proposed biblical text (max. 2 chapters) and topic will be due in class on Wednesday October 1. 

      b. Your Initial Exegesis Proposal, including your text, topic, proposed “thesis” regarding the meaning of your text with regard to your topic (which you will be expected to prove based on evidence from the biblical text!), along with your preliminary bibliography of specific standard resources for biblical research, tailored to your topic (as specified in the syllabus guidelines, based on the Wednesday library session), will be due in class on Monday October 6, and will also count as one of your “written assignments.”       

      c. Your Revised Exegesis Proposal, with your revised thesis, plus a 1-pg substantive outline of your proposed argument giving evidence to prove that thesis, will be due in class on Wednesday October 15, and will count as one of your 10 "written assignments."    

      d. Prior to turning in the completed project, each student must take it to the Writing Center (no paper will be accepted without documentation of an ARC visit), get a peer review, and complete a “self-evaluation.” 

      e. Submit an electronic copy of your completed paper, which should include an adequate bibliography as specified in the guidelines, at (class ID 4695798, enrollment password "ot12"); no paper will be accepted without electronic submission at this anti-plagiarism site!

      f. Submit a hard copy of your completed paper to the instructor's mailbox (outside D-320) on Nov. 7, along with copies of your sources, initial and revised proposals, the peer review (signed by your reviewer) and your "self evaluation" (on the proposal form, including date of writing center visit).    

5)      There will be 3 short (1 hour, non-cumulative) Tests (each worth 10% of the final grade) on each of the first three sections of the course, covering relevant historical background, scholarly theories and content.  Review sheets will be handed out in advance.

6)      A Final Exam (2 hours, worth 20% of the final grade), covering the entire course, will be given during exam period (Fri. Dec. 12, 8:30 am).  The exam will be essay format (with some choice) and issue oriented.   

7)      Students wishing to make up for absences or missed quizzes may submit Chapter Outline Summaries  (1-2 pages each) of the assigned chapters from the textbook (Hill & Walton) for that week.

8)   Extra Credit will be granted at the instructor's discretion for the following:
    a) Chapter Outline Summaries from the textbook as specified above.
    b) Sets of I.D. flashcards for learning names, dates and books of the Bible, etc.
    c) Creative cartoons, limericks, etc. that capture the message of a particular story or character in the Bible in association with the name (include an explanation) - to be shared with the class.  For example, picture two garden hoses lovingly entwined - one (labeled "Hosea") looks up to heaven; the other with big eyelashes (labeled "wife/Israel") stretches away.  Explanation:  God commanded Hosea to take an adulterous wife (symbolic of unfaithful Israel), whom he repeatedly wooed back despite her infidelity - an example of "prophetic symbolism" representing God's unconditional love for Israel.
    d) Watching "Biblical" movies relating to the Old Testament and submitting points of disagreement with the actual biblical account (citing chapter and verse).  To get credit, the student must also submit movie ticket stubs with theater and date, video receipt with date and time watched, or TV schedule including channel and time watched.  I know you watch these. Get out your Bibles and check up on them for credit!  
    e) Attending designated “special speaker” events.







Schedule of Classes:

        Section 1: The Pentateuch (Torah)

Week 1:  Introduction, Genesis I: Primeval History  
  Read Genesis 1-11; Hill ch. 1-3, 9, 19, 26; appendix A and B;
     Friedman Intro. + ch. 2; OTP pp. 11-42 [9-40 on Moodle]
(total 180 pgs).
M (Aug. 25)- Introduction: "Salvation History," Genres, ANE context, "distinctiveness."
W (Aug. 27)- "Primeval History:" creation, fall, redemption.
F  (Aug. 29)- Pentateuchal Criticism: J, E, P, D and all that, issues of dating and authorship.
*Asst. 1 (handout, due Fri):  Exercise on evaluating multiple sources in Gen. 1-11 (J vs. P).

Week 2:  Genesis II: Patriarchs – Inheritance of the Promise
  Read Genesis 12-50; Hill ch. 4; Friedman ch. 1-4.
  Compare OTP 65-79 [61-75], Pritchard ANET pp. 24-27 (on Moodle) re Joseph parallels
(total 160 pgs).
M (Sept. 1)- The story of family, problem of heirs. Discuss Abram's call and the binding of Isaac.
W (Sept. 3)- Feuding brothers. Discuss Esau/Jacob, History, Religion, Drama. *Quiz 1: Genesis.
 F (Sept. 5)- Joseph cycle – “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good!” Discussion.
*Asst. 2: Discuss Joseph’s deception with regard to Benjamin stealing his cup and its significance,

noting parallels to Rachel’s theft of Laban’s idols and the general pattern of deception in Jacob’s life.

Week 3:  Exodus – Liberation and Covenant
  Read Exodus; Hill ch. 5; Friedman ch. 5-7, 11; OTP 89-90, 105-114 [85, 101-109]
(total 166 pgs).
M (Sept. 8)- The identity of a nation. Liberation, Sinai, covenant. ANE theme pattern, imagery.
W (Sept. 10)- Moses – legendary charismatic leader, intercessor, law-giver.  *Quiz 2: Exodus.
 F  (Sept. 12)- Discussion on the Plagues, the Red Sea, the Golden Calf - Sources.
*Asst. 3:  Discuss the Golden Calf story, who benefits from telling it and what is their purpose.

Week 4:  From Covenant to Edge of Promised Land: Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
  Read (skim) Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Hill ch. 6-8, OTP 131-133 [124-126]
(total 210 pgs).
M (Sept. 15)- Leviticus: holiness, sacrifice, covenant.  Jubilee!
W (Sept. 17)- Numbers: wanderings & conflict, name lists & boundaries, Balaam. *Quiz 3.
*Asst. 4: Due Wed! Discuss the differing views of Balaam in: Num 22-25, 31; OTP 131-133 [124-126];
Deut 23:3-6; Josh 13:22, 24:9-10; Neh 13:1-3; Mic 6:5; 2Pet 2:15-16; Jude 11; Rev 2:14.
F  (Sept. 19)- Deuteronomy: nature of biblical law, ANE context, continuity and distinctiveness.

Week 5:  Pentateuch Review and Test
  Read Friedman ch. 8-14 (i.e. rest of book = 96 pgs). Review Pentateuch, Hill 3-8 + Appendix.
M (Sept. 22)- Source Criticism (J, E, D, P), formation of epic. *Exam Review Sheet*
W (Sept. 24)- Review for Test on Pentateuch (no quiz, no written assignment).
F  (Sept. 26)- *Test 1 on the Pentateuch, Hill ch. 3-8+App., Friedman, Parallels (10% of grade).





         Section 2: The Historical Books (“Former Prophets”)

Week 6: The Tribal League                                                   
Read Joshua, Judges; Hill ch.10-12; OTP 97-98, 151-154, 357-362
[91-93, 141-144, 333-337]; review Friedman ch.1 (138 pgs).
M (Sept. 29)- Issues of conquest/settlement, archaeology – fulfillment of promise! 

      Discuss Exegesis Project and Thesis - example re Saul's death (regicide/suicide).  Assign skit groups.
W (Oct. 1)- Library Session: Discuss the nature of the Exegesis Project and introduce sources. 
    Meet in Snowden Library. *Choose your biblical text and topic, write them on quiz! *Quiz 4.
 F  (Oct. 3)- Charismatic leadership ideal; anti-kingship vs. pro-kingship. Discussion/Debate.
*Asst. 5:  Is the Book of Judges primarily anti-monarchic or pro-monarchic? Give your evidence.


Week 7:  The United Monarchy, “Golden Age” of Israel
  Read Ruth, 1-2 Samuel, 1Kings 1-11, Hill ch. 13-14, OTP 155-156 [145-146]
(total 148 pgs).
M (Oct. 6)- The tribal league, local hero stories, unity/disunity.  Skits!
*Initial Exegesis Proposal due in class (see Exegesis Project Guidelines proposal form),
  including a statement of your primary biblical text, topic, thesis, and preliminary bibliography.
*Discuss Exegesis proposal outline. Example argument re Judges.

W (Oct. 8)- Saul, David (rise and succession narratives), Solomon. Evaluation of character small groups.

                    Samuel, Ark Narrative, Philistines and Kingship. *Quiz 5.

F  (Oct. 10)- Guest Lecture TBA, or work on Exegesis Project Outline in Library! (Art Trip to NYC)


Week 8:  The Divided Monarchy into the Exile: Deuteronomistic History.
  Read 1-2 Kings, Hill ch. 15, OTP 165-203 [155-190]
(122 pgs). Review Friedman ch. 4-7 (60 pgs). Politics handout.
M (Oct. 13)-
Politics of rebellion, kingship ideology. Elijah cycle: prophetic corrective to kingship.

W (Oct. 15)- Fall of North, Sennacherib invasion: conflicting sources, differing perspectives.*Q6.
*Asst. 6: Revised Exegesis Project Proposal due Wed. in class (form plus 1 pg. descriptive outline).
F  (Oct. 17)- Long Weekend - NO CLASS.


Week 9:  Exile and Restoration.  The Chronicler’s History.        *Test 2 Review Sheet.*
  Read 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah; Hill ch. 16-17; OTP 207-209 [193-195]
(153 pgs). Review Friedman ch. 8, 13 (28 pgs).
M (Oct. 20)- Josiah vs. Manasseh, theological crisis of exile, reshaping history.  Jeremiah & Ezra.

W (Oct. 22)- The Chronicler- starting over again. Discussion. *Quiz 7.
*Asst. 7: Due Wed! Look at the way Manasseh is presented in Kings vs. in Chronicles. Explain!

[Th Oct. 23, 4:00 pm in Schultz Rm., E.C. op: guest lecturer Katrina Bloch on Anti-Immigrant Groups.

F  (Oct. 24)- Historical Review, Review for Test on Section 2.

Week 10:  Test on Histories 
M (Oct. 27)- *Test 2 on Historical Books, Hill ch. 10-17 (10% of final grade).

            Section 3: The Prophets (Writing Prophets)

Week 10:  Test on Histories; Prophets in the Assyrian Crisis
  Read Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum; Hill ch. 27-28, 33, 35, 38-39
(total 190 pgs).
M (Oct. 27)-  *Test 2 on Historical Books, Hill ch. 10-17 (10% of final grade).
W (Oct. 29)-  Introduction to Prophets. Amos and Hosea.
F  (Oct. 31)- Politics of Assyrian Crisis. Isaiah of Jerusalem, Micah, Nahum, Jonah. *Quiz 8.
            *No Ass't.  Work on Exegesis Project!



Week 11:  Major Prophets in the Crisis of Exile
  Read Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel; Hill ch. 29-31
(total 154 pgs).
M (Nov. 3)- Jeremiah (two versions!), connection with Deuteronomistic History
(Friedman ch. 5-7).

W (Nov. 5)- Ezekiel: “Can these bones live?” Prophetic symbolism, exile. Small groups.*Quiz 9.

F  (Nov. 7)- Isaiah's "call" in ch. 6. Controversy over the unity of Isaiah (focus on Isaiah 6 and 40).
      2nd Isaiah as hope for restoration from exile. Servant songs, Messianic prophecy.
**Exegesis Projects due Friday Nov. 7, midnight, instructor's box
outside D-320 (20% of grade)!  

Week 12: Prophets in the Restoration; Minor Prophets Overview.
  Read Joel, Obadiah, Habakkuk, Jonah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi;
  Read/Review Hill ch. 33-44
(52+77=129 pgs).
M (Nov. 10)- Politics of Restoration, Restoration Prophets. *Prophets Review Sheet*
W (Nov. 12)- The book of the twelve, prophetic survey.      
Small groups. *Quiz 10.
 F  (Nov. 14)- Review for Test on Prophets (Bible Jeopardy III).

Week 13:  Test on Prophets.  Review Hill ch. 27-31, 33-44 for Monday (50+77=127 pgs).
M (Nov. 17)- *Test 3 on Prophets, Hill ch. 27-31, 33-44 (worth 10% of the final grade).

Section 4: Wisdom Literature ("Writings")

Week 13:  Test on Prophets; Traditional Wisdom and Anti-Wisdom.  
  Read Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job; Hill ch. 20-21, 23-24
(185 pgs); rec. OTP 219-244 [203-228].  
M (Nov. 17)- *Test 3 on Prophets, Hill ch. 27-31, 33-44 (worth 10% of the final grade).
W (Nov. 19)- Proverbs - the traditional wisdom; Ecclesiastes and Anti-Wisdom.
 F  (Nov. 21)- Job and the dilemma of the righteous sufferer - discussion (note esp. Job 31).  *Quiz 11.
*Asst. 8: Who is on trial in Job, and why?  What is the major question at stake?  How is it answered?

Week 14:  Psalms and Songs; Thanksgiving Break
  Read Psalms, Lamentations, Song of Songs; Hill ch. 22, 25, 30
(140 pgs)
M (Nov. 24)- Psalms - hymns for worship, prayer, lament. Lamentations and Song of Songs.
W (Nov. 26), F (Nov. 28)- School closed for Thanksgiving Holiday.  Read Psalms!

Week 15: Daniel and Esther - Hero Stories and Apocalyptic; Review.
  Read Daniel, Esther, 1Macc 1-4, 2Macc 5-10; Hill ch. 18, 32
(38+24+15=77 pgs).
M (Dec. 1)- Esther (+Jonah). Wisdom tales, hero stories, and humor. *Review sheet.*
*Asst. 9 (due Mon!): Reflect on the use of humor and role reversals in Esther and Jonah.  
W (Dec. 3)- Daniel and apocalyptic. “Apocrypha.” *Quiz 12
Daniel and Esther (
+Jonah). Wisdom tales, hero stories, humor, and apocalyptic. “Apocrypha.”
*Asst. 10 (Wed): Reflect on the message of Daniel in relation to life under foreign rule.  
 F  (Dec. 5)- Review for final exam, essay format. Come with questions!

A two-hour Final Exam will follow during Exam Period (Friday Dec. 12, 8:30 am; worth 20% of grade).
The exam is cumulative, and will consist of quote interpretations and essay questions concerning broader themes and concepts from the entire course, for which there will be some choice.  




*Assignments are due on Fridays in class, unless otherwise noted in the syllabus. All assignments should be typed with 12-point Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins all around.

*Save backups of all your work to your “H” drive space, backed up by ITS each night.

*Wk 2 Pritchard Reserve Reading "Joseph Parallels" available on-line via Moodle and at the library circulation desk.


**Papers are officially due on Friday at midnight.  The office doors are locked around 5:00pm.  Papers delivered after 5:00 will obviously not be retrieved until the following Monday, so any papers found in the mailbox on Monday morning will be accepted as being "on time."  Please do not come with last minute excuses asking for a short extension.  Just get it in the box by Monday morning.  Any papers not yet turned in by first thing Monday morning, short of 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.  Hard copies should be submitted in my box (outside D-320) along with your original and revised proposals, an adequate bibliography as specified in the guidelines, a self-evaluation (including the date of your visit to the writing center, required for all students), a peer review, and copies of your sources.  In addition to the hard copy, papers must be submitted electronically at (class ID 4695798, enrollment password “-----”). 


Instructions for Moodle: Supplemental course readings have been placed on electronic reserve through Moodle, at Your username is your Novell login, with your Novell password, Enrollment Key = “-------.” 


A Note on Academic Dishonesty:  Academic Dishonesty is a serious offense at Lycoming College and in this class.  Academic Dishonesty includes failing to give credit to sources used (otherwise known as Plagiarism).  This would include copying material from a book, article or web site without citing your source.  "Paraphrasing" is not sufficient.  If you are using someone else's words you must put the material in quotation marks as well as citing your source.  Even if you paraphrase or summarize, if you are using someone else's *ideas,* you must cite your source, giving specific page numbers, as well as listing the source in your bibliography.  See the Library web pages on the mechanics of how to properly cite sources.  Plagiarism also includes copying material from one of your classmates or from previous students – whether on a formal paper or a short assignment.  You are allowed to discuss assignments together, but when it comes to writing out your answers, you must do your own work and use your own words.  If I receive two assignments (or chapter outline summaries) containing a majority of identical wording, BOTH will receive an “F.” If I receive papers containing substantial amounts of material copied from any source (books, articles, web sites, other student papers, etc.) without the proper citation and credit being given, that student will receive an “F” on the project and will be reported to the Dean. Keep in mind that I have a very good memory, keep my own file of past papers, and also have a web browser.  In addition, all papers will be handed in electronically at, where Lycoming has a college-wide account.  This site will check all papers against the internet and other resources, as well as against papers previously submitted to this and other classes.  Over the past several years I have discovered a number of instances of plagiarism in my classes.  According to school policy, a second infraction of this type in any course at Lycoming College can result in expulsion from the school.  If you do not clearly understand what this means or what plagiarism is, please come and talk to me about it and I will be glad to explain. Remember: the difference between plagiarism and good research is only proper citation!


A Note on Workload:  This is not high school!  College courses require preparation!
The standard at Lycoming College is 6-9 hours of preparation per week per course, not including class time.  That’s 2-3 hours of preparation for every 1 hour in class.  For this course in general you should plan on spending 6 hours each week just reading (average 150 pages/week; at 25 pages/hour or 2½ min. per page, this would come to 6 hours/wk), plus 1 hour to study for the quiz and 1-2 hours working on the written assignment.  By the way, you should know that introductory 100-level courses such as this, while they do not assume prior knowledge of the subject area, are generally MORE WORK than upper level courses.  This is because the breadth and volume of material covered is greater, and the instructor cannot assume any prior knowledge and therefore cannot just
leave things out.  If you want to be successful in this course, then plan to schedule in your study time!


Disability Accommodation:  Lycoming College provides academic support for students who officially disclose diagnosed learning, physical and psychological disabilities.  If you have a diagnosed disability and would like to seek accommodations, please contact Jilliane Bolt-Michewicz, Assistant Dean of Academic Services / Director of the Academic Resource Center.  Dean Bolt-Michewicz will help you arrange for appropriate academic accommodations. 

She can be reached by calling 570-321-4050, emailing, or visiting her office (Academic Resource Center, 3rd Floor of Snowden Library).


REL 113: Old Testament Faith and History. Exegesis Project Guidelines: Proposal and Self-Evaluation. RJDK


Fill out Initial Exegesis Project Proposal form with Proposed Text, Topic, Thesis, and Preliminary Bibliography with 10-item preliminary bibliography as specified on form (due 10/6/14). 


Fill out Revised Exegesis Proposal form with Revised Thesis, attach 1-page substantive outline of proposed argument (due 10/15/14).


Visit the Writing Center upon completing a good draft of your paper (by 11/6), and get a classmate to do a “peer review” for you, using the form and criteria given on the back of the proposal form (you will turn this in with your paper).  Then revise accordingly.


Fill out the Self-Evaluation (on bottom of Proposal form, including the date of your visit to Writing Center - required for all students) and turn it in along with your marked-up initial and revised proposal form, marked up preliminary and revised bibliography form, peer review, copies of sources, and the completed paper (due 11/7/14).  Also submit electronic copy at 


The Exegesis Project is NOT primarily a research paper, but rather an essay that closely analyzes a specific biblical text, giving your own thematic analysis of its implications and significance, and then seeking to make some relevant application to modern life issues.  The suggested bibliographical items are to inform you about relevant issues, but keep in mind that I am primarily looking for your own thoughts, evaluations and analysis.  Do not spend overly much space summarizing other people’s work.  You will need to have a thesis and argument that you are making about your topic, and your analysis should begin with the original intended meaning and significance of the Old Testament text(s) you have chosen. 


The target length for the paper is 6 pages (excluding bibliography), of which the first 5 should be analysis of your chosen biblical text (from the Old Testament), proving your thesis, and the last page should apply that thesis to some modern-day situation (note that if your application is longer than 1 page you may expand the length of the paper, but do not shorten the analysis). 


You must type using 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins all around, and number your pages.   


Use quotation marks for all quotes.  Longer quotes (over 5 lines) should be single spaced and indented.  All quotes as well as paraphrased or summarized ideas should have proper citation.  


Citation of biblical passages should take the form of "Book Ch.#:Verses" (e.g. Exodus 6:4-5) instead of page numbers, unless you are using the marginal notes, in which case you must give page number and identify your edition.  


Bibliography and Citations can use MLA or APA format (guidelines available in the library at the Reference and Circulation desks.   Here is a sample:

                            Author. “Article Title.” Dictionary Title. Editor, Ed. City: Publisher, Year. Volume: Pages.
                            Author. Commentary Title. City: Publisher, Year. Pages.
                            Author. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume # (year): pages.
Citations within the text of your paper can then simply consist of: (author, page #s).
A year or short title is included in the citation if there is more than one source with the same author.

Your final bibliography for the Exegesis Project should be alphabetized by authors’ last names and  include (at a minimum):
1.        The Bible. Your paper should use and analyze in detail at least one specific biblical passage.
2.        Class Notes and Course Textbooks, if used.
3.        A Biblical Commentary for your text (BS192 or BS1200 and following in library stacks).
4.        An article from a Bible Dictionary on your topic (e.g. Anchor Bible Dictionary, Ref. BS440).
5.        Two articles from academic journals related to your topic using the ATLA Religion Index, at  You can also look for relevant bibliographical items listed at the ends of the Bible Dictionary articles and/or other journal articles, or cited in the commentaries.

Hard copies of the completed paper should be submitted in my box (outside AC D-320) along with your marked-up initial and revised proposals, an adequate bibliography as specified in the guidelines, a self-evaluation (including the date of your visit to the writing center, required for all students), a peer review, and copies of your sources. 

All papers must also be submitted electronically at (class ID 4695798, enrollment password “ot12”). 
Remember:  The difference between Research and Plagiarism is only proper referencing!

REL 113 Old Testament Faith and History.   Further Guidance for Exegesis Essay.                          RJDKnauth

Follow the Exegesis Project Guidelines above carefully.
These guidelines clearly state that the reflection/application is only supposed to be 1 page.
The bulk of the paper should be analysis of the text.
                p. 1: Introduction and thesis.
                p. 2-5: Analysis of the text - its basic message and significance in relation to your thesis.
          p. 6: Application/Reflection.
You can't possibly apply or even reflect on a text until you first understand what it means   i.e. what the author intends it to mean within his historical/cultural context. Once you understand the nature and significance of your text, you can figure out how it may be related to some sort of modern application.
I really do not want summary of the biblical text.  You should NOT spend any appreciable time merely summarizing the story. 
Also, it is not intended primarily as a research paper, though I do want you to be informed in your own analysis. I certainly do not want summary of what other people have thought about the biblical text. 
What I want is analysis of the text, with some application - sort of like a sermon, but perhaps more focused.
Exegesis means to bring out the meaning of the text.
You need to have a thesis about the meaning and significance of an Old Testament text. 
Then you need to prove that thesis using specific evidence from the Old Testament text.
Our weekly assignments are a good model for this.
The following example with regard to the kingship issue in Judges, as discussed in class, should help to clarify the sort of thing I am looking for in the exegesis paper with respect to analysis of the text.
If you are confused by this, please come talk to me.  My office hours and schedule are posted on my office door (D-320) and web site.  In general I am in my office when not in class. We can work through any issues regarding your particular topic and thesis together.

Below is a sample “substantive outline” of a proposed argument for a sample thesis regarding the kingship issue in Judges:
The book of judges is primarily antimonarchic, as demonstrated by the Gideon vs. Abimelech contrast at its center.
1. The book of Judges is arranged chiastically, with Gideon at the center.  The center of the chiasm usually marks the main point (give evidence that Judges is chiastic with Gideon at center).
2. Gideon is shown to be an ideal leader, and at the center of his narrative comes the clear pronouncement of the author's main point: "I will not be your king - God is your king."
3. Abimelech, who makes himself a king by treachery and murder, shows himself to be a terrible leader, the episode ends in disaster.
4. Jotham's fable clearly presents kingship as being worthless - undertaken only by those who have nothing better to do (give quotes).
5. The book of Judges presents kings in general, like Eglon of Moab, to be fat, lazy and foolish (give quote).
6. The main counter-argument to this thesis is that the book of Judges clearly demonstrates that the system of Judges has failed due to a lack of continuity in leadership (give quote).
  a. However, creating an artificial continuity of leadership by instituting dynastic succession leaves no guarantee that the succeeding leader will be any good.
  b. The best case in point for this is again Gideon and Abimelech.  Gideon is a great leader, but Abimelech is a disaster. 
  c. Sons don't always follow in the ways of their fathers - in fact, according to the Deuteronomistic History, they rarely do. 
   Eli is good, his sons are corrupt.  Samuel is good, his sons are corrupt.  Saul is not so good, but his son Jonathan is wonderful, etc. 
  d. Dynastic succession clearly cannot be the answer called for in the book of Judges.
7. Even more, there is the factor of the natural tendency of power to bring corruption.  Gideon, Saul and Solomon all begin well, but after settling in to their power (Gideon after he is offered the kingship) they all begin to abuse it to some degree - perhaps because of the common Canaanite conception of what the rights of kingship are, as demonstrated most clearly by the story of Naboth's vineyard.  Just allowing the title of "King" will naturally lead to corruption, oppression and abuse of power - just as Samuel warns in his farewell speech, and this does, in fact, prove to be the case through the rest of the Deuteronomistic History.
8. In the book of Judges, we see an effort to counter this natural tendency of power to corrupt by making humility one of the primary characteristics of a good leader.  The flip-side of this value is that being power-hungry is an automatic red-flag indicating that a person is unfit for leadership.  Gideon and all of the other ideal Israelite leaders seek to refuse the power when it is offered to them, and act with humility.  Abimelech was prideful and power-hungry - showing him to be an unfit leader.
According to the book of Judges, the ideal leader should be chosen by God rather than by dynastic succession, and should be humble rather than power-seeking.
Because we choose our leaders today by election rather than by dynastic succession, we do not generally face the danger of sons not following in the ways of their fathers.  However, since the election process tends to draw those who are power-seeking rather than humble, and even tends to favor those who are corrupt in the area of securing campaign contributions, it is no surprise that Government corruption in this country is high.  Campaign reform designed to counter this problem might help considerably.  Fostering humility of character is a more difficult challenge.

Some suggestions for sample Exegesis topics.                                                                               RJDKnauth

These are only a few ideas, from which you would need to find a focused thesis, argument, and application.
You can work with one of these or come up with your own along the same lines.

The significance of the flood symbolism in baptism (Gen. 6-9, cf 1Peter 3:20-21)
The Covenant of Noah, “Divine Disarmament” and Capital Punishment (Gen. 8-9)
Arguing with God (Gen. 18-19)
The problem of Hagar and Ishmael: banishment of the unchosen? (Gen 21)
The “Binding of Isaac” and the consequences of child abuse (Gen. 22, and Isaac generally)
The “Binding of Isaac” and the justification of God’s ultimate sacrifice (Gen. 22)
How Esau's Blessing was fulfilled (Gen 27, 33, 36, etc.)
Patterns of Reversed Parallel Deceptions in the Jacob Cycle (Gen. 27/29 and 31/44 etc.)
Joseph and the enslavement of Egypt: reaping the consequences of your actions (Gen. 47)
Women in the Life of Moses Representing God's Non-Abandonment vs. Sargon Parallel (Exod. 1-2)
Corporate Responsibility and the Plagues in Egypt: punishing the people for the sin of the leader? (Exod. 7-15)
Rebellion in the Wilderness (Exod 15-17, Num 11-14)
Aaron's Golden Calf (Exod 32-33, 1Kings 12)
Balaam’s Donkey and issues of Cruelty to Animals (Exod. 23:4, 10-12; Num. 22, Jonah 4:11)
Debt Laws and Loan Forgiveness (Deut 15)
Sabbath: Significance and Value Then and Now (Gen. 2:2-3, Exod. 20:8-11, 23:10-12, 31:12-17; Deut 5:12-15)
Gleaning Law, Social Welfare (Ex. 23:10-12; Lev. 19:9-10, 23:22, 25:6-7; Deut. 14:27-29, 15:12-15, 23:24-25,
24:19-22; Ruth)
The problem of vicarious punishment (Deut. 5:9-10, 24:16; 2Sam 12:13-23, 21:1-14; Hammurabi 251 in ANET)
Struggling with the Conquest (Joshua 5-12)
Gideon sending the army home (Judges 7)
Abimelech and the problem of power-grabbing kingship (Judges 8:23, 9:1-57)
Sabotaging the Covenant - What Balaam and Delilah Have in Common... (Numbers 31:16, Judges 16)
The Kinsman Redeemer (Lev. 25, Ruth)
The Ark Narrative: Manipulating the gods? (1Sam. 4-6)
Saul's Death - Regicide or Suicide? (1Sam 31, 2Sam 1)
Saul vs. David: blame-shifting and repentance (1Sam. 13, 15; 2Sam 11-12)
Women's Reflections on the Character of David (Michal, Abigail, Bathsheba and Tamar)
The rejection of Jonathan, the death of Jeroboam’s son: “Only the good die young”
                   (1Sam 14, 19-20, 31; 1Ki 14:12-13)
A Woman's Role (choose 1: Deborah, Michal, Bathsheba, Abigail, Jezebel/Athaliah; cf Proverbs 31)
A House for God? Implications and significance (2Sam. 7, 1Kings 5:3-5, 8:10-30, 1Chron. 22)
Crime and Punishment: does the punishment fit the crime? (2Sam 11-13, 16:20-22)
David’s “succession narrative” and the consequences of failing to act (2Sam 13-20)
Taking Bad Advice (2Sam 16-17, 1Kings 12)
Elijah’s confrontation, depression and theophany (1Kings 18-19)
Naboth’s vineyard and kingly abuse of power (1Kings 21)
Naaman’s Leprosy and the difficulty of easy solutions (2Kings 5)
Different views of Sennacherib’s invasion (2Kings 18-20, 2Chon. 32, Isaiah 36-39)
Obedience, Not Sacrifice (1Sam 15:22, Amos 5, Hosea 6:6, Isaiah 1, etc.)
Manasseh vs. Josiah: assigning blame for the exile (2Kings 21-25)



10/6 Initial Exegesis Project Proposal  for REL 113: Old Testament, fall 2014.    RJDKnauth

Your Name:


Primary Old Testament Text(s) to be analyzed (max. 2 chapters!):
                   (be specific, giving biblical book, chapter and verses)

Specific Topic:


Proposed Thesis (regarding arguably intended meaning of OT text- must be provable based on biblical evidence):




10/6 Preliminary Bibliography - Standard Resources for Biblical Research (10 items, tailored to your topic)-


   A. Three Bible Dictionary articles.  Find articles related to your topic in the Anchor Bible Dictionary (Ref. BS440), New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Ref. BS), and Encyclopedia Judaica (Ref. BM) and list them below giving Author (listed at end of article), article title, Dictionary volume:pages, editor, city: publisher, year. Then choose the most helpful and mark it with an asterisk.




   B. Three Commentaries. Find three commentaries for your chosen biblical text from the New Interpreter’s Bible (Ref BS), the Anchor Bible (stacks BS192), and individual volumes (BS1200à) and list them below giving Author (listed at beginning of section in Interpreters Bible), Title (of volume), vol., pages, city, publisher, year. Then choose the most helpful and mark it with an asterisk.




   C. Four Journal Articles. Find four journal articles related to your topic using the ATLA Religion Index database or JSTOR on the Snowden Library web page.  List them below giving Author, “Article Title,” Journal name, volume # (year): pages.  Then choose the two most helpful and mark them with asterisks.  Request them by Interlibrary Loan immediately if they are not already in our library or available on-line with full-text.












10/15 Revised Exegesis Project Proposal                            Name: _______________________________

Text & Topic (if different):


Revised Thesis:




*Attach 1-pg substantive outline (typed) of your proposed argument proving this thesis on separate paper

(see example in “Guidelines;” often it is helpful to incorporate this outline within the text as subheadings)!

Proposed Title of Paper (be creative!): 


Revised, selected Bibliography (asterisked items from preliminary bibliography, or new; alphabetize for paper!)


   1. Best Bible Dictionary Article:

   2. Best Commentary:

   3. 1st Journal Article:

   4. 2nd Journal Article:


11/7 Self-Evaluation (turn in with completed paper, along with "peer review" on back)

Title (if different):

Specific Topic (if different):

Thesis (state here and also underline in text of paper):


Assigned length of project (using 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, w/ 1-inch margins):  6 pages.
Actual length (use 12-pt Times New Roman font, double space w/ 1-inch margins, and number pages!): _____.

What you like best about your paper (mark in text with *J*!):


What you would most like to improve about your paper if you had the time:


What grade do YOU think your paper deserves (see criteria below)**? ______

How many hours did you spend on it (roughly)? ______

Date of your visit to the writing center (required for all students)? ____

11/6 Peer Review- Rate the following (E=Excellent, G=Good, F=Fair, N=Needs Work).      Reviewer Name: ______________    

Thesis: clear? Convincing? Significant? Interesting? Original?                                                                   E    G    F    N

Argument: organized? Coherent? Sustained? Effective?                                                                            E    G    F    N

Use of Evidence: convincing? Refutes counter-arguments? More than simplistic analysis?                               E    G    F    N

Use of Sources (Primary and Secondary): accurate? Informative? Relevant?                                       E    G    F    N

Style: well-written? Readable? Clear? Good transitions? Creative?                                                          E    G    F    N

Mechanics (spelling, grammar, syntax, sentence structure): correct?                                                       E    G    F    N

Overall, did you like it?                 Did you enjoy reading it?            Were you convinced?             What grade would you give it?
                                                                                                                                                                                (see criteria below**)
What was the thesis and the main argument?



What did you like most about it?





Suggestions for improvement?




**Grading Criteria [Lewis Hyde’s list (modified), with thanks to Richard Marius’s handbook]
(thesis, use of evidence, organization/structure of argument, counter-argument, grammar/mechanics):

The A paper (Excellent) has all of the good qualities of the B paper (below), but in addition it is lively, well paced, interesting, even exciting. 
The paper has style.  Everything about it seems to fit the thesis exactly.  The thesis is convincing and sustained throughout. Counter-
arguments are considered and refuted.  The sure mark of an A paper is that the reader will think about the topic in a new way and will
want to tell someone else about it.

The B(+) paper (Good) has a thesis that is specific and worth arguing.  The argument is clear and organized, using supporting
evidence in a way that is informative and generally convincing.  The paper is competent, mechanically correct, and makes sense
throughout.  The reader knows exactly what the author wants to say.

The C paper (Average, Minimally Satisfactory) has a thesis, but it is vague, broad, or uninteresting.  It advances an argument, but
not one that anyone would care to debate.  It states personal opinion without giving adequate justification or defense; supporting
evidence is weak, insufficient or inappropriate.  Mechanical faults are present, though not overwhelming.

The D or F paper (Unsatisfactory) lacks a clear thesis, or any sort of effective argument.  Paragraphs do not hold together; ideas do
not develop from sentence to sentence but are merely repetitive.  The paper is confusing and shows little indication that the writer
understands the material being presented.  It is filled with mechanical faults, errors in grammar and spelling.