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The Hebrew Bible by Lawrence H. Schiffman

The Hebrew Bible

by Lawrence H. Schiffman

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Unabridged Edition
Running Time
7 Hrs. 30 Min.
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The Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh and to Christians as the Old Testament, is the basis for the West's tradition of monotheism, as well as our civilization's ethics and mores. In this course delivered by Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, listeners will engage in a discussion on how that collection came into being and how it was passed down and interpreted throughout the ages. By the conclusion of the discussion, you'll see how this tradition developed into the basis of Judaism and Christianity and how it continues to mold our society and culture today. The Jewish Bible was collected in ancient Israel over a long period of time. The first books of the Bible are the Five Books of Moses, in Hebrew, the Torah, or by its Greek name, the Pentateuch, meaning "five books." For the Hebrew Scriptures, the Biblical canon was divided into three parts, Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim. Christians have a completely different term for this Jewish canon that constitutes about one half of the Christian Bible. Because Christians have an additional set of texts, namely, the Gospels and the Epistles, Christians refer to the earlier material as the Old Testament in contradistinction to the New Testament. This intellectually satisfying course examines the complex issues of the historicity of the biblical account as well as the deep theological and religious ideas that the Bible teaches. We will sample approaches both traditional and modern, making use of the works of a broad sampling of scholars - ancient, medieval, and modern - to understand the message of the Hebrew Scriptures and the stories they told. Archaeology and the perspectives gained from our knowledge of the Ancient Near East will be at the forefront, allowing us to approach the Bible with the help of the manifold tools of modern research while retaining respect for the Bible and its ancient message. Professor Schiffman's course approaches the Bible in an academic, objective manner. But what does that mean? One of the problems here is that the primary interpreters of the Bible throughout history have been the faith communities of Judaism and Christianity. Yet in modern times we have gained a number of disciplinary aids - archaeology, literary criticism, and religious studies. When we come to the Bible, we have tools that our ancestors never had. We have been influenced since the European Enlightenment, and especially in the 19th century, to believe that humans possess the power through reason to come to advanced understanding of all the sciences. Necessarily there were attempts to study religion objectively and to divorce religious materials from the views of the believers. We are going to try as much as possible to follow such an approach, first to let the Bible speak for itself in as objective a manner as possible, and then to try to understand it within the context of our own beliefs and predilections.

Lecture 1 Bible, Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament: The Nature of the Collection

Lecture 2 Who Wrote the Bible?: Authors, Editors, and Scrolls

Lecture 3 Archaeology and the Bible

Lecture 4 Origins of the World, Humanity, and the People of Israel: Genesis and Exodus

Lecture 5 Codes of Biblical Law: Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy

Lecture 6 History and Identity: Joshua and Judges

Lecture 7 Portrayal of History: Samuel and Kings

Lecture 8 Temple and Sacrifice: Leviticus, Numbers, Ezekiel

Lecture 9 The Prophets and Their Writings

Lecture 10 Words of Wisdom: Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes

Lecture 11 God and Humanity in the Hebrew Bible

Lecture 12 Handing Down the Bible: The Dead Sea Scrolls

Lecture 13 The Hebrew Bible in the New Testament: Jewish Interpretation: Midrash

Lecture 14 The Bible and Western Culture

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