The Bible as Literature
What is exclusive to ancient Judaism (versus other ancient religions)?
Emphasis on a written law
The idea that the temple is the only ritually appropriate site.
What does it mean to read the Bible historically or literarily?
Read within genres (Ruth, Exodus, Psalms), for what a historical audience might have gotten out of it first (torah meaning one thing in David’s time, and another in the Persian period, and so on.)
For truth claims about divine intervention.
first 5 scrolls
a story typically involving supernatural beings and forces which provides an explanation (aetiology)…or justification such as… a religious belief… or a natural phenomenon
day of rest, 7th day of the week.
How do the two accounts of creation differ?
1st: Men and women simultaneously created, then came plants and animals. (better relationship between Adam and God)
2nd: Adam was created, then animals, then Eve from adams rib.
Listen to God and you will be rewarded.
ex/ Noah and the arc, flood, rainbow, never again will flood the earth, spared Noah's life for taking orders.
Abraham "your decendents will be countless and one day form a mighty nation." -God
What’s the difference between science, history, and myth?
Not a lot of difference when it comes to this ancient text. (etiology:the study of the cause)
All to teach a moral with scientific and historical attributes
What do we make of Cain’s punishment? Or, for that matter, of Adam and Eve’s?
Sometimes God can be unfair
Cain's punishment: body tremors
curses the people by making them speak a bunch of languages for their attempt to build a generic temple and duplicate His works.
different than other flood stories where it seems like people deserve it
Moral lessons of Babel and the flood
Man is responsible for the world and his actions can either destroy it or preserve it.
J E D P
J- Jaweh (greek) "yaweh"
E- Elohim meaning God
P- Priestly: all matters concerning priests
The hypothesis is that the pentateuch was written by 4 authors at different times with different points of view and they were all edited together into the first 5 scrolls. Which is why there is inaccurate details and doublets and triplets.
Giving up something
Trying to get right with God. Narrowing the gap because you've done something wrong.
Hardening of Pharaohs Heart
Taking away his moral agency. Pharaoh is not a chosen one.
Judaism as legalistic:
Lots of laws, what you should and should not do. Follow the law and that’s enough. Thou Shalt Not Covet, a mental state, not entirely demanding, has something to do with moral attitudes as well.
What sorts of things are regulated under the laws in the Pentateuch?
Ritual Laws (not having idols)
Refer to inner states as well.
What’s the difference between magic and miracles?
Magicians; channeling demons, working on their own authority
Miracles; working through a vessel at a specific moment
Who is the traditional author of most of the Psalms?
the use of successive verbal constructions in poetry or prose that correspond in grammatical structure, sound, meter, meaning, etc.
Benefits of repetition
can be soothing
revoke religious feeling
put you in a receptive state for an image
How does one talk to God in the Psalms? What sorts of things does one say?
What are the typical psalm themes/genres?
Praise, hyms, thanksgiving, celebration.
Anger, bitterness, complaining, revenge, hopeful, dedication, praise of the law, praise of wisdom
How do the Psalms train the emotions?
Promotes righteousness and feeling good about it; cohesion; anger and revenge.
Healthy mix of allowing the full range of human emotion, all in respects to God.
Teaches you how to talk directly to God, what emotional attitudes are okay to bring to Him. Its okay to complain.
if your good you will be rewarded, if youre bad you will be punished.
Give a capsule summary of: Joshua
Conquest; falls of Jericho
Give a capsule summary of: Judges
stabilizing the countries of Israel and Judah (timeless)
Give a capsule summary of: Samuel
Last judge, anoint King Saul… reign of David (the greatest king)(messiah)
Give a capsule summary of: King
Solomen, the building of the temple, last years of the southern kingdom before the exile.
What’s the most widely accepted scholarly theory behind how the Israelites got to Israel?
Gradual Emergence Theory:
indigenous people taking on these religious practices…cult of Yahweh forms and incorporate these narratives about the exodus
Fairy tale like; things happen for not very seemingly good reasons
Angry, violent, judge, profit, highly praised.
David as royal yet individual, a special relationship with God, but one that’s seemingly a model for everyone
Josiah: what is he known for?
The good king; restores a lot of things (brief window of hope before the end)
What’s the poetic form of Lamentations?
Is Lamentations comforting? How?
Has cathartic use, Reinforces how if you do bad you get punished, work on the covenantal relationship, even though its all bad they know they deserve it (when Jerusalem was destroyed)
What do we look for in religious language?
Issues with gender pronouns, transparency, literal accuracy in translation,
King James: feels more religious by its archaic form, richer in some ways
What are the various main approaches to translating psalms?
Copy or enhance the emotion
The vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil.
with a loving God why does the righteous suffer? Why is there evil? Free will, choice. Original sin.
we need evil to understand and appreciate good
What are the two parts of Job?
Frame where Job doesn’t complain (older tale?)
Long poetic frame where all he does is complain. (newer writer?)
What is God’s main argument in the poetry section?
The power argument, “don’t meddle in my affairs I have created everything, divine justice is not your concern, don’t question me”
Is Job’s complaint culpable, according to the text?
What’s the point of being righteous, according to Elihu?
Good people DO suffer, to be righteous is to earn your share with God
What are the 3 friends blamed for?
Lack of empathy
The weeping prophet
Worked in 8th c. Israel, prophesying its doom if it failed to amend its ways
Amos of Tekoa
God doesn’t care about proper worship, acc. to Amos, but is rather most concerned with justice, mercy, social concerns
What is the role of a prophet?
Book of Jonah
God in control—will can’t be thwarted (prevented from accomplishing something); God listens to prayer and is eager to forgive—repentance works.
What are the humorous elements in Jonah?
goes to sleep during the storm, the whale (maybe), Jonah’s sullen attitude, God gives Jonah the plant for shade and after a brief moment of relief, takes it away
What’s the deal with the plant?
Bush grows above Jonah for shade and then kills the bush. May be about… “don’t be a hypocrite; God’s mercy expands beyond Israel” God may give but he can also take away.
What is Wisdom personified as in Proverbs?
If Wisdom is a woman, that her opposite, foolishness is also a woman, so you can make all these comparisons. Wisdom is the wife; foolishness is the adultress or prostitute.
What specific behaviors do the proverbs encourage?
speech, discipline, money, sex, work ethic, emotional regulation / bearing in society, avoiding the foolish and the scoffers – rules regarding living well and in particular living well in community
How does Proverbs emotionally train its audience?
Proverbs again makes us feel really good about doing things that are considered wise and extremely ashamed of doing things that aren’t wise. (1.26ff)
Lots of inscribing wisdom on the heart, e.g. (7.3)
attuning yourself to the Wisdom community seems to automatically get you most of the way there
Do you see Ecclesiastes to be in opposition to Proverbs, or to the rest of the Bible?
ehrman makes it sound as if there’s a Proverbs camp (simplistic) and a Job/Ecclesiastes camp (sophisticated and sad), when in fact these are simply different moods, different modes, different ways of drawing strength to meet the task of living. If you like Job, you don’t have to be anti-Proverbs.
How does it differ from the outlook of Job? (Ecc. vs. Job)
Job about acute suffering and where it comes from. This is about the meaning of life, ennui.
What’s the takeaway from Ecclesiastes?
Life is vanity, but righteousness helps. Learning, while wearisome is better than the alternative. And righteousness actually supports hedonism (pursuit of pleasure).
Purpose of the story of Ruth
Emphasize, unlike many other books, the fact that foreigners can marry into Israelite society—though of course, Ruth is like the best of the best, despite being a Moabite. Israelite society attracts the best sort of people, and we should let them in.
What are Ezra and Nehemiah famous for?
Ezra: rebuilding the altar, rebuilding the temple, rededication to the Torah dealing with intermarriage [cf. Ruth]
Nehemiah - oversaw the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and strengthened his people's religious practices.
What is the name of the period we’ve entered with these books? (Ezra and Nehemiah)
What is Aramaic?
Closely related to Hebrew.
It’s important as we go forward to realize that all the texts we’ve been talking about, most of which have now been written (except Daniel) – even if they were written earlier, they were probably at least edited during this Persian period, and if not edited, then kept around because they were considered important for various reasons – canon and text formation.
Who sees the valley of the dry bones?
During what period was Isaiah II likely written?
What is Purim named after?
"Pur" meaning "lot"
What is henotheism?
adherence to one particular god out of several, especially by a family, tribe, or other group.
Who is the Messiah in Isaiah II? Is the Messiah even mentioned?
Yes, he is called the "anointed"
Cyrus? Yes, it’s weird and new that a non-Jew is a messiah, but he saves Judah.
The suffering servant? Israel?
Book of Esther
fears of national destruction and anti-Semitism
like Ruth in that it features a woman who uses “chaste wiles” to get what she wants
a story about assimilation and possibility