Religious Studies | Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
A210 | 13619 | E. Mroczek


The Hebrew Bible is a foundational text of Western civilization. The goal of this course is to
familiarize you with this collection and to understand its development over time in an
ancient culture that was radically different from our own. Besides the texts that make up
the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, we will also consider non-biblical texts that were written
and read in the same period, including writings from the Dead Sea Scrolls, placing them in
a broader historical and cultural context of Jewish Antiquity. How were these writings
created, interpreted, used, and collected by ancient communities in the formative period
that gave birth to Judaism and Christianity?

Throughout the course, we will discuss how the texts of the Hebrew Bible have been read
and interpreted in very different ways by ancient religious communities and by modern
biblical scholars. This approach is meant to encourage reflection on our own reading
practices, and to understand how the assumptions we bring to a text, and the context in
which we read it, affect the meanings that it comes to make.