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RGB 1005S -- INTRODUCTION TO THE OLD TESTAMENT -- M. Kolarcik, S.J. January, 2001

Textbook: Anthony CERESKO, An Introduction to the Old Testament, A Liberation Perspective, Orbis, Maryknoll, New York: 1992. (Ordered at the Victoria Book Store).

Recommended texts :
J.D. LEVENSON, Sinai and Zion: an Entry into the Jewish Bible, San Fransisco: Harper & Row, 1987.
Bernhard W. ANDERSON, Contours of Old Testament Theology, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999.


R. ALTER, F. KERMADE, eds., The Literary Guide to the Bible, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1987. (BS 535 L54)
J. BARR, The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspective, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999.
L. BOADT, Reading the Old Testament, an Introduction, Paulist Press, New York: 1984.
J. BRIGHT, A History of Israel, 3rd edit., Philadelphia: 1981.
W. BRUEGGEMANN, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997.
B.S. CHILDS, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.
B.S. CHILDS, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979.
O. EISSFELDT, The Old Testament: An Introduction, trans. Peter R. Ackroyd, London: 1974.
N. FRYE, The Great Code: the Bible and Literature, Academic, Toronto: 1982.
N.K. GOTTWALD, The Hebrew Bible, A Social-Literary Introduction, Philadelphia: 1985.
N.K. GOTTWALD, The Tribes of Yahweh, London: 1980.
N. LOHFINK, Theology of the Pentateuch: Themes of the Priestly Narrative and Deuteronomy, trans. L.M. Maloney, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994.
J.B. PRITCHARD, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, (ANET), (3rd edit. with supplement), Princeton: 1963.
G. von RAD, Old Testament Theology, vol. I, II, trans. D.M.G. Stalker, London: 1975.
R. RENDTORFF, The Old Testament: An Introduction, Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1986.
P. RICOEUR, "Philosophy and Religious Language", JR 54 (1974) 71-85.
P. RICOEUR, "Philosophical Hermeneutics and Theological Hermeneutics", Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 5 (1975) 14-33.
P. RICOEUR, "Creativity in Language", Philosophy Today 17 (1973) 97-111.
P. RICOEUR, "Biblical Hermeneutics", Semeia 4 (1975) 29-145.
W.H. SCHMIDT, Old Testament Introduction, trans. Matthew J. O'Connell, New York: 1984.
Walter BRUEGGEMANN, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997.


H. CAZELLES, "Covenant", [Sacramentum Mundi, New York: 1975].
D.R. HILLERS, Covenant: The History of a Biblical Idea, Baltimore: 1969.
D.J. McCARTHY, Old Testament Covenant: A Survey of Current Opinions, Atlanta: 1972.
J.L. McKENZIE, "Aspects of Old Testment Thought", [The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, eds., BROWN, FITZMYER, MURPHY, Prentice Hall, New Jersey: 1990, 1284-1315].
G.E. MENDENHALL, "Covenant", [IDB, (Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible) vol. 1].
G.E. MENDENHALL, G.A. HERION, "Covenant", The Anchor Bible Dictionary, I 1179-1202.
M. WEINFELD, "berith", TDOT, (Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament) vol. 2.


K. BALTZER, The Covenant Formulary in the Old Testament, trans. D.E. Green, Philadelphia: 1971.
J. BISHOP, The Covenant: A Reading, Springfield Ill.: 1982.
J. BRIGHT, Covenant and Promise, Philadelphia: 1976.
W. BRUEGGEMANN, The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in the Biblical Faith, New York: 1977.
W. BRUEGGEMANN, David's Truth in Israel's Imagination and Memory, Fortress, New York: 1985. |bs 580 d3 b78
R.E. CLEMENTS, Prophecy and Covenant, SBT 43, London: 1965.
R.E. CLEMENTS, Abraham and David, Genesis 15 and its Meaning for Israelite Tradition, SBT 2:5, London: 1965.
R.E. CLEMENTS, God's Chosen People: A Theological Interpretation of the Book of Deuteronomy, London: 1968.
R. CLIFFORD, Deuteronomy, with Excursus on Covenant and Law, Old Testament Message 5, Wilmington: 1982.
J.L. CRENSHAW, Story and Faith, a Guide to the Old Testament, Macmillan, New York: 1986.
F.M. CROSS, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, esp. "The Ideologies of Kingship in the Era of the Empire: Conditional Covenant and Eternal Decree", 219-273, Cambridge, Mass: 1973.
H. GUTHRIE, Israel's Sacred Songs, a study of dominant themes, New York: 1966.
P. KALLUVEETTIL, Declaration and Covenant, A Comprehensive Review of Covenant Formulae from the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East, Analecta Bib 88, Rome: 1982.
D.J. McCARTHY, Treaty and Covenant, A Study in Form in the Ancient Oriental Documents and in the Old Testament, Analecta Biblica 21a, Rome: 1978.
D.J. McCARTHY, Institution and Narrative: Collected Essays, Analecta Biblica 108, Biblical Institute, Rome: 1985.
T.E. McCOMISKEY, The Covenants of Promise: a theology of Old Testament Covenants, Grand Rapids: 1985.
S.E. McEVENUE, The Narrative Style of the Priestly Writers, Analecta Biblica 50, Rome: 1971.
G.E. MENDENHALL, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East, Pittsburg: 1955.
G.E. MENDENHALL, The Tenth Generation; the origins of the biblical tradition, Baltimore: 1973.
M.L. NEWMAN, The People of the Covenant, New York: 1962.
E.W. NICHOLSON, Exodus and Sinai in History and Tradition, Oxford: 1973.
H.M. ORLINSKI, The So-Called "Servant of the Lord" and Suffering Servant in 2nd Isaiah, VTSup 14 (1967). Note the appendix, "A Light of Nations, A Covenant People", 97-119.
J. PLASTARAS, Creation and Covenant, Milwaukee: 1968.
R. POLZIN, Moses and the Deuteronomist, New York: 1980.
J. RHYMER, The Covenant and the Kingdom, Dayton, Ohio: 1968.
W.H. SCHMIDT, The Faith of the Old Testament, Basil Blackwell, London: 1983.
W. VOGELS, La Promesse Royale de Yahweh Préparatoire à L'Alliance, Ottawa: 1970.
M. WEINFELD, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School, Oxford: 1972.
R.N. WHYBRAY, The Succession Narrative. A Study of IISam 9-29, I K1-2, Alec R. Allenson, Naperville: 1968.
C.J.H. WRIGHT, God's People in God's Land, Family, Land and Property in the Old Testament, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids: 1990.


W. BRUEGGEMANN, "Amos 4:4-13 and Israel's Covenant Worship", VT 15 (1965).
M.J. BUSS, "Covenant, Theme in Historical Perspective", VT 16 (1966).
A.I. CAMBELL, "An Historical Prologue in a Seventh Century Treaty", Bib 50 (1969).
W. EICHRODT, "Covenant and Law", Interpretation 20 (1966).
F.C. FENSHAM, "Father and Son Terminology for Treaty and Covenant", [Near Eastern Studies in Honor of W.F. Albright, ed. H. Goedicke, Baltimore: 1971].
F.C. FENSHAM, "Common Trends in Curses of the Near-Eastern Treaties and Kudurru-Inscriptions Compared with Maledictions of Amos and Isaiah", ZAW 75 (1963).
F.C. FENSHAM, "Covenant, Promise and Expectation in the Bible", TZ 23 (1967).
F.C. FENSHAM, "Malediction and Benediction in Ancient Near-Eastern Vassal Treaties and the Old Testament", ZAW 74 (1962).
J.A. FITZMYER, "The Aramaic Treaty from Sefire in the Museum of Beirut", CBQ 20 (1958).
D.N. FREEDMAN, "Divine Commitment and Human Obligation", Interpretation 18 (1964).
E. GERSTENBERGER, "Covenant and Commandment", JBL 84 (1965).
M. HELD, "Philological Notes on the Mari Covenant Rituals", BASOR 200 (1970).
E. HEPPENSTALL, "The Law and the Covenant of Sinai", AndrewsUnivSeminarySt 2 (1964).
D.R. HILLERS, "berit 'am, Emancipation of the People", JBL 97 (1978).
C.D. JOTHANN, "The Covenant and Covenant Making in the Pentateuch",BangaloreTheologicalForum 3 (1969).
M.G. KLINE, "Law Covenant", WestminThJ 27 (1964).
M.G. KLINE, "Dynastic Covenant", WestminThJ 27 (1964).
J.D. LEVENSON, "The Davidic Covenant and its Modern Interpreters", CBQ 41 (1979).
R. MARTIN-ACHARD, "La nouvelle alliance selon Jérémie", RThPh 3:12 (1962), also in [Questions disputées... see D.J. McCarthy]
R. MARTIN-ACHARD, "La signification de l'alliance dans l'Ancien Testament d'après quelques travaux récents", RThPh 3:18 (1969).
A.D.H. MAYES, "The Covenant on Sinai and the Covenant with David", Hermathena 110 (1970).
A.D.H. MAYES, "King and Covenant, a study of 1K 22-23", Hermathena 124 (1978).
D.J. McCARTHY, "berit and Covenant in the Deuteronomistic History", [Studies in the Religion and History of Ancient Israel. VT 23 (1972)].
D.J. McCARTHY, "berit in Old Testament History and Theology", Bib 53 (1972).
D.J. McCARTHY, "2Sam 7 and the Structure of the Deuteronomistic History", JBL 84 (1965).
D.J. McCARTHY, "Covenant Relationships", [Questions disputées d'Ancien Testament, BETL 33, ed. C.H.W. Brekelmans, Leuven-Gembloux: 1974].
D.J. McCARTHY, "Prophets and Covenantal Community", Jeevadhara 11 (1981).
D.J. McCARTHY, "Moses' Dealings with Pharaoh", CBQ 27 (1965).
D.J. McCARTHY, "Notes on the Love of God in Deuteronomy and the Father-Son Relationship between Yahweh and Israel", CBQ 27 (1972) 144-147.
J.W. McKAY, "Man's Love for God in Deuteronomy and the Father/Teacher -- Son/Pupil Relationship", VT 22 (1972) 426-435.
J.L. McKENZIE, "The Dynastic Oracle: 2 Sam 7", ThSt 8 (1947) 187-218.
S.L. McKENZIE, H.N. WALLACE,"Covenant Themes in Malachi", CBQ 45:4 (1983).
W.L. MORAN, "The Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Love of God in Deuteronomy", CBQ 24 (1963).
W. MOST, "A Biblical Theology of Redemption in a Covenantal Framework", CBQ 29 (1959).
J. MUILENBURG, "The Form and Structure of the Covenantal Formulations", VT 9 (1959).
E.W. NICHOLSON, "The Covenant Ritual in Ex 24:3-8", VT 32 (1982).
E.W. NICHOLSON, "The Tradition in Exodus 24:9-11", VT 26 (1976).
E.W. NICHOLSON, "The Interpretation of Exodus 24:9-11", VT 24 (1974).
E. O'DOHERTY, "The Organic Development of Messianic Revelation", CBQ 19 (1957) 16-24.
F.C. PRUSSNER, "The Covenant of David and the Problem of the Unity in Old Testament Theology", [Transitions in Biblical Scholarship, ed. J.C. Rylaarsdam, Chicago: 1968].
G. QUELL, "diatheke, The Old Testament term berit", Theol. Dictionary of the Bible.
P.A. RIEMANN, "Covenant, Mosaic", [IDB, suppl. vol, Nashville: 1976].
J. SWETNAM, "Why was Jeremiah's new covenant new?", [Studies on Prophecy, VTSup 26 (1974)].
J. SWETNAM, "Diatheke in the Septuagint account of Sinai: A Suggestion", Bib 47 (1966).
M. TSEVAT, "The House of David in Nathan's Prophecy", Bib 46 (1965).
M. TSEVAT, "The Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Vassal Oaths and the Prophet Ezekiel", JBL 78 (1959).
M. WEINFELD, "berith - Covenant vs Obligation", Bib 56 (1975).
M. WEINFELD, "Deuteronomy and the Present State of Inquiry", JBL 86 (1967).
M. WEINFELD, "Jeremiah and the Spiritual Metamorphis of Israel", ZAW 88 (1976).
C.F. WHITLEY, "Covenant and Commandment in Israel", JNES 22 (1963).
J. WIJNGAARDS, "Death and Resurrection in Covenantal Contexts (Hosea 6:2)", VT 17 (1967).

COURSE INFORMATION: My office is located in the 15 St. Mary Street Building, number 202. My office hours are TUESDAYS and THURSDAYS from 2 - 4 pm. But feel free to make an appointment for other times or even drop in if I am free. By telephone you can reach me through Regis College 922-5474 or at 963-4948. I regularly look at my e-mail messages as well ( This information with updates may be accessed on the internet from my web page :

EVALUATION: Seven short essays (three-page, double-spaced, 12 point) on selected questions arising from reading materials and class lectures (due on Jan 22, Feb 5, Feb 26, Mar 12, Mar 26, Apr 9, Apr 20). Two sets of definition of terms: first set to be submitted Feb 12th; second set to be submitted Apr 2nd. 

Michael Kolarcik

Questions for study based on lecture material (in alphabetical characters) and on reading requirements (in numerical characters). Answer one question in three pages, double-spaced, 12 point.
First Assignment Due January 22

a) Explain briefly the narrative arch of call/covenant/test for the Abrahamic covenant in Gen 12,15, 22.
b) What unique perspectives on covenant theology are presented in the narrative of Genesis 15?
c) The story of the call for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac has been understood as the climax of the entire Abrahamic cycle. What explanation would you offer for this high regard the story has had in the history of interpretation?
1) Explain briefly the documentary hypothesis that accounts for the divergent materials in the pentateuchal narratives (Ceresko, pp. 52-60).
2) To what extent do the ancestral narratives in Genesis portray ancient materials as well as betray signs of retrojection? (Bright, pp. 77-96)
3) To what extent must the religion of the ancestors be differentiated from that of the official polytheisms of Mesopotamia? (Ceresko, pp 27-37)

Second Assignment Due February 5th

d) How does the narration of the birth of Moses prefigure Israel as a nation (Exodus 2)?
e) How does the story of the theophany from the burning bush represent a radical change in the life of Moses?
f) The exodus narrative that reveals God's plan to liberate the Israelites from Egypt is met by resistance in Moses, the people and in the Pharaoh. What significance does the resistance have for the narrative in each case?
g) Explain the complexity and possible solutions in the notion that God is presented as "hardening the heart" of the Pharaoh in the plague narrative (Exodus 7--11).
h) What are the unique features of the Sinai covenant? How would you differentiate it from the Abrahamic covenant?
i) Explain the major differences between the Sinai covenant and the Vassal-Treaty form.
j) What are the important images and ideas in the Sinai covenant according to the Elohist and the Yahwist traditions?
4) What are the arguments used to support the dating of the Exodus in the 15th and the 13th centuries? (Ceresko, pp. 72-79; Bright, pp. 120-128)

First set of definition of terms to be submitted February 12th to be defined from your reading of A. Ceresko, J. Bright, L.Boadt, and from the lectures: Provide a one sentence definition for each term.

Akhenaton --
allegory --
Amarna Letters --
amphictyony --
analogy --
anthropomorphic --
Apiru (Hapiru) --
apodictic law --
berit --
case law (casuistic law) --
chiastic structure --
Code of Hammurabi --
concentric structure --
Covenant Code (Book of the Covenant) --
decalogue --
Deuteronomist (D) --
doublet --
Elohist (E) --
epic --
eponymous writing --
genealogy --
Hittite --
Hyksos --
juxtaposition --
legend --
LXX --
metaphor --
Midianite --
myth --
parity treaty --
Patriarchal Stories --
pentateuch --
Philistines --
Priestly Writer (P) --
redaction --
saga --
Sea Peoples --
Septuagint --
symbol --
Talmud --
Babylonian Talmud --
Palestinian Talmud --
Tel --
theophany --
Torah --
treaty formulary --
Tribal League --
vassal treaty --
Yahwist (J) --

Third Assignment Due February 26th

k) In Joshua 2, the spies who are sent to search out the land find a haven in Rahab's house, a prostitute. What purpose lies behind the narrator's presentation of this spy story that says little about the actual spying and a great deal about the family of the prostitute?
l) In Joshua 23-24, we have the leader, Joshua, before his death, calling for the people to renew their covenant with God. What explanation would you offer for the absence of any reference to the Sinai covenant?
m) The Book of Judges presents us continuously with a pattern of Israel sinning, crying to God, and being delivered. Using Judges 10:6--11:12 as an example, explain the pattern.
5) What are the arguments used to sustain the theories of Israel's conquest, gradual infiltration, and uprising of Canaan? (Ceresko, pp. 89-112)
6) How would you characterize the Israelite religion with the socio-religious terms of monotheism, henotheism and polytheism? (Bright, pp. 159-162)
n) In 1 Samuel 8--12, which narrates Israel's request for a king to Samuel, there are two positions, one positive and the other negative, toward the establishment of a monarchy. What are some profound theological implications behind this rather simple request of Israel "to be like the other nations" and have a monarchy.
o) David succeeded in establishing the monarchy where Saul had failed. What are some of the reasons the biblical writers offer for Saul's failure on the one hand and David's success on the other?
p) Describe the progression of David's rise to power through his personal relationship to Jonathan in the four episodes of 1 Sam 18:1-5; 19:1-7; 20:1-42; 23:15-18.
q) How does the Davidic covenant which is conveyed through Nathan's oracle represent a cultural shift for the Israelites?

Fourth Assignment Due March 12th

r) How would you characterize the essential aspects of literary prophecy (the writing prophets) in Israel? Use the vocational experiences of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel as examples (Isa 6, Jer 1; Ezek 1-3). (Ceresko 165-188, as well as lectures)
7) How do the three major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, use the past Mosaic and Davidic covenant expressions to express hope? (Ceresko 189-214, 221-231, and lectures)
8) Why was the Babylonian exile a serious threat to the faith of Israel? (Ceresko 217-222, Boadt 383-386).
9) Explain the historical ramifications and events that led to the Babylonian exile. (Bright, chs. 8-9, pp. 310-372, 3rd ed.)

Fifth Assignment Due March 26th

10) How is the book of Deuteronomy the most complete example of a treaty-formulary in the Bible? (Ceresko, 113- 124).

s) Explain the concentric structure of Deut 8. How does this single chapter represent the Deuteronomist's strategy to elicit a commitment on the part of the Israelites? (lectures)

Second set of definition of terms to be submitted April 2nd

Second set of terms to be defined from your reading of A. Ceresko, J. Bright, L.Boadt, and from the lectures: Provide a one sentence definition for each term. Definitions to be submitted April 2nd.

Amorites --
apocalyptic --
apocrypha --
Aramean --
ark (of the covenant) --
Canaanites --
cosmology --
Dead Sea (Qumran) Scrolls --
Deutero-Isaiah --
deuterocanonical --
diaspora --
didactic --
divination --
Ebla --
Edomites --
Enuma Elish --
etiological stories --
Exile --
Gilgamesh Epic --
henotheism --
hexateuch --
Hittite Grant --
Jamnia --
Levites --
Mari --
Masoretes, Masoretic Text (MT) --
Melchizedek --
Merneptah Stele --
messianic --
Mishnah --
Moabites --
monotheism --
parenetic --
Phoenicians --
polytheism --
prophet --
Pseudepigrapha --
rîb --
sapiential (wisdom) writing --
Tanak --
Targum --
tent of meeting (tabernacle) --
tetragrammaton --
tetrateuch --
the Priestly Code --
the Holiness Code (H) --
theodicy --
Trito-Isaiah --
typology --
Ugarit --
Vulgate --
Zadok --

Sixth Assignment Due April 9th

t) What are some possible motives why the Priestly writer adds another story of creation (Genesis 1) to that of the Yahwist (Genesis 2:43:24)?

11 How is the Priestly account of creation opposed to the Babylonian myths of creation? (Ceresko 244-253, Boadt, 114-117)

u) Compare and contrast the Deuteronomistic and Priestly approaches to the crisis of faith occasioned by the Babylonian exile. How do they appeal to covenant images to respond to the crisis of faith? (mostly lectures).

v) Explain the Priestly emphases in covenant theology through their re-working of the Yahwist story of Noah (Genesis 9) and their reformulation (Genesis 17) of the Yahwistic account of the covenant with Abraham. (lectures)

Seventh Assignment Due April 20th (last day of exam week)
12) How would you account for the relative absence of the covenant image in Wisdom Writings? What theological concern becomes the backdrop for sapiential thought? (Ceresko, 273-282; lectures)

w) Using the Joseph narrative (Gen 3750) or the story of Jonah, explain the main features and concerns of Wisdom Literature.

x) Explain the uniqueness of the personification of wisdom evidenced in Prov 8, Sir 24, Wis 9.

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