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Old Testament

Course Level: Basic

Course Summary

Please Note: This course is the second of basic level introductory courses to Scripture. We recommend the courses be taken in sequence especially if a student has had limited previous studies in scripture. The sequencing enables the student to cultivate a strong biblical foundation for understanding and applying the Scriptures in their lives. The sequence is: (1) Introduction to the Scriptures, (2) Old Testament and (3) New Testament.This course paves the way for students to develop deeper personal understanding and appreciation for the biblical context, structure (Canon), authoring, meaning and historical impact of the Old Testament. Students are introduced to methods of reading biblical texts, understanding the story lines and process of interpretation with cultural contexts, and current trends in biblical research. Students are encouraged to respect the wholeness of the biblical texts. This approach assists students as they acquire new skills and tools to navigate through the Old Testament and apply its wisdom to their spiritual lives and ministry.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • To familiarize oneself with the Old Testament in order to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Scriptures and biblical study
  • To strengthen one's spiritual life through a deeper understanding of the Old Testament as recommended by the World Synod of Bishops (October 2008)
  • To understand the impact of geography and history on the forming of the Israelite community and its history
  • To understand the construction of the Pentateuch
  • To be able to explain how the Old Testament is not a history book but a profound story of God's relationship with God's Chosen People
  • To understand the meaning and structure of the Canon and the influence of the Four Source Theory.
  • To identify and understand the meaning and role of select "major" and "minor" prophets
  • To become familiar with the Historical Books with particular focus on the Books of Joshua and Judges
  • To understand the factors that caused the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian Exile

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Boadt, Lawrence. Ed. Richard Clifford and Daniel Harrington Reading the Old Testament Paulist Press 2012. 2nd Edition ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0-8091-4780-9
  • Optional Book: Tim Dowley The Student Bible Atlas Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 2005 ISBN: 0806620382; ISBN-13: 978-0806620381
  • Course Materials available at the VLCFF Amazon Store.

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: The Pentateuch: Genesis
    • Explain the meaning of Pentateuch
    • Describe the Four-Source Theory and its importance for Scripture study
    • Explain how source criticism and form criticism have contributed to our understanding of the Pentateuch
    • Explain the two creation stories
    • Explain the meaning of myth and role in scripture accounts
    • Understand the setting for the patriarchal stories in Genesis
    • Identify the two major covenant accounts in Genesis
    • Explain why the story of Abraham is told as a journey
    • Understand the purpose of the Joseph story and how it relates to Genesis
  • Week 2: The Exodus and the Law
    • Name each book of the Pentateuch
    • Understand the message and meaning of each of the books of the Pentateuch
    • Identify the historical factors which influenced the Exodus
    • Identify significant characters who played a role in the unfolding of the Exodus narrative
    • Understand the nature and meaning of covenant
    • Explain the importance and role of the Pentateuch as Law for the Israelite community
  • Week 3: The Israelite Possession of Canaan and Kingship
    • Identify the Historical Books of the Scriptures
    • Understand the significance of the Book of Joshua
    • Understand the role of judges in the Israelite's history
    • Explain who the 12 tribes were and how they came into existence
    • Appreciate the meaning of "land" for the Israelite community
    • Become familiar with some of the "minor" judges and "major" judges
    • Identify Solomon, Samuel and David and their leadership roles
  • Week 4: The Split of the Kingdom and the Great Prophets
    • Understand the religious factors which ignited a split in the kingdom
    • Identify the geographic, cultural and political factors which challenged the Israelite communities
    • Explain the vocation and impact of the prophet within the kingdom(s)
    • Identify Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah as Prophets
    • Identify the impact of the pagan cults within the kingdom(s)
    • Identify the specific message and method used by the prophets to communicate to the people
    • Understand the role the Babylonians had in the decline and fall of Jerusalem
    • Explain what the prophetic task may mean today based on a deeper understanding of Old Testament prophetic roles.
  • Week 5: Prophecy During the Babylonian Exile
    • Understand the meaning of loss for the Israelite people in exile
    • Explain the meaning of Diaspora
    • Understand the unique mission and perspective of Ezekiel, the prophet
    • Identify Ezekiel's "theology of judgment"
    • Understand the shift in political realities that eventually opened the doors for the Jewish community's return to Jerusalem
    • Understand the message of the Book of Lamentations
    • Explain who Second Isaiah was[br]
    • Understand how Second Isaiah uses the term "servant"