About this Course
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With its walls razed to ground by Babylon’s armies, Jerusalem joined a long line of ancient vanquished cities—from Ur and Nineveh and Persepolis to Babylon itself. While some recovered from the destruction, others did not. But none responded to political catastrophe by fashioning the kind of elaborate and enduring monument to their own downfall that we find in the Bible. Most conquered populations viewed their subjugation as a source of shame. They consigned it to oblivion, opting instead to extol the golden ages of the past. The biblical authors in contrast reacted to loss by composing extensive writings that acknowledge collective failure, reflect deeply upon its causes, and discover thereby a ground for collective hope. Working through colorful biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts, and drawing on an array of comparative examples, the course illustrates the thoroughgoing manner with which biblical authors responded to defeat by advancing a demotic agenda that places the community at the center. The aim of the biblical authors was to create a nation, and they sought to realize this goal via a shared text, which includes stories and songs, wisdom and laws. This corpus of writings belongs, without a doubt, to humanity’s greatest achievements. Whereas the great civilizations of the Near East invested their energies and resources into monuments of stone that could be destroyed by invading armies, the biblical authors left a literary legacy that has been intensively studied until the present day. More important, these authors’ visionary response to defeat brought to light a radical new wisdom: the notion that a people is greater than the state which governs it, and that a community can survive collapse when all of its members can claim a piece of the pie and therefore have a reason to take an active part in its collective life....
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Approx. 22 hours to complete

Suggested: 6 weeks of study, 4-7 hours/week...
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Subtitles: English, Spanish, Romanian...
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Approx. 22 hours to complete

Suggested: 6 weeks of study, 4-7 hours/week...
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Spanish, Romanian...

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

Week
1
Clock
3 hours to complete

The Riddle That Has Yet to be Solved

Our larger goal is to understand why the Bible was written. So first we need to take a step back and form a larger view of the world in which the kingdoms of Israel and Judah emerged. This module sets the stage for all that follows. Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: 1) Describe how Israel's geographical location, situated between two great civilizational centers, had a decisive impact on history, 2) Identify why Egypt was interested in Canaan (the land of the Bible), 3) Describe the context in which the oldest references to Israel and places in the land of Israel appear, and 4) Analyze how the withdrawal of Egyptian influence from Canaan made it possible for territorial states (such as Israel and Judah) to emerge in the first millennium BCE....
Reading
10 videos (Total 67 min), 7 readings, 1 quiz
Video10 videos
Introduction1m
Defeat and the Response to Defeat2m
The Oldest Reference to Israel9m
The Centers of Civilization5m
The Levant as a Land Bridge6m
Egypt's Presence in Canaan During the New Kingdom12m
The End of Egyptian Imperial Control6m
Map Module11m
Dever Interview8m
Reading7 readings
Learning Outcomes & Recommended Works10m
Getting Started10m
Websites10m
Course Maps10m
Biblical Timeline10m
Letter from the Instructor: Welcome to Module 110m
Module 1 Readings10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz 120m
Week
2
Clock
3 hours to complete

The Rise and Fall

In the last module, we studied the activity of the great cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia in the Levant. These major groups played a key role in forming the backdrop for the rise of Israel and Judah. After Egyptian and Mesopotamian rulers withdrew from the area, they left breathing room for smaller groups—such as Israel and Judah—to grow and extend their own power. In this module, we will explore the more modest cultures of Israel and Judah, from the rise and fall of their respective kingdoms. Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: 1) Differentiate between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and describe the circumstances that led to the rise of both, 2) Identify key figures and causes in the downfall of Israel and Judah, respectively, and 3) Analyze how the biblical authors take creative liberties in their portrayal of historical events pertaining to Israel and Judah....
Reading
15 videos (Total 131 min), 3 readings, 1 quiz
Video15 videos
Israel and Judah6m
Omride Dynasty10m
Fall of Israel7m
The Kingdom of Judah7m
Fall of Judah7m
Younger Interview12m
Darby Interview11m
Vaughn Interview13m
Biblical Narrative: Building a History9m
Israel in Canaan8m
The Rise of the Kingdoms6m
Exploring the Material Culture8m
The Nature of the Kingdoms9m
Office Hours Modules 1-210m
Reading3 readings
Letter from the Instructor: Welcome to Module 210m
About the Supplemental Videos10m
Module 2 Readings10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz 220m
Week
3
Clock
4 hours to complete

The Making of the Bible as a Response to Defeat

In this module, we dive into the question of why the biblical authors created the Bible. We begin by looking at various depictions of how Judahites were living after the fall of Judah. These depictions provide us with insight into what the biblical authors were facing after the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests. We then turn our attention to the biblical writings as we deconstruct and reconstruct the text in order to discover what drives the biblical project. By engaging the text critically, we begin to see how the biblical authors creatively combined sources to create a pan-Israelite history. Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: 1) Differentiate between extrabiblical and biblical depictions of Judahite communities living in various locations after the fall of Judah, 2) Identify distinct traditions or sources within the biblical text and distinguish between core narratives and supplements or links, and 3) Compare and contrast the dominant theories concerned with the composition of the Bible....
Reading
15 videos (Total 125 min), 6 readings, 1 quiz
Video15 videos
Part 1: Judah After the Babylonian Conquest7m
Part 2: Factors Leading to Depopulation9m
A Judahite Community in Egypt9m
Judahite Communities in Babylon10m
The Return to Zion8m
Introduction to the Biblical Project3m
From the Bible to the Sumerian King List7m
Analyzing a Biblical Text: Genesis 266m
A Closer Look at Genesis 2613m
Interweaving Sources5m
Compositional Theories5m
Division of the Books: Organizing a History8m
Doctoral Student Aubrey Buster13m
Epigrapher and Professor Christopher A. Rollston15m
Reading6 readings
Letter from the Instructor: Welcome to Module 310m
Module 3 Readings10m
Genesis 2510m
Genesis 2610m
Genesis 2710m
Genesis 2810m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz 320m
Week
4
Clock
2 hours to complete

Reinventing the Hero

In this module, we will begin by exploring a clue that adds further support to the general thesis of this course (i.e., that the Bible is a project of peoplehood in response to the defeat of the state). That clue is the absence of martyrdom and glorious death in the biblical narratives. We will see how the biblical authors reshape their history as they fashion narratives and law codes that promote “name-making” through procreation rather than heroic death. Through values that we take for granted today, the authors work to ensure the preservation of their people under conditions of foreign rule. Upon completion of this module, learners will be able to: 1) Identify narrative texts and law codes that relate to procreation, heroic death, and the expanded roles for both men and women, 2) Differentiate between the ideals of heroism found in the Bible and those found in non-biblical text, and 3) Understand that these values emerge out of pragmatic concerns related to corporate survival and the formation of a new kind of political community....
Reading
12 videos (Total 78 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video12 videos
The Biblical Authors Reinvent the Hero7m
Commemorating the Fallen Soldiers5m
The Glorified Death of the Fallen Warrior8m
The Bible’s Treatment of Heroic Death6m
Death in the Bible7m
Biblical Law Codes and Procreation7m
The Preservation of the People6m
Interview with Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Part 110m
Interview with Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Part 26m
Interview with Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Part 310m
Conclusionm
Reading2 readings
Letter from the Instructor: Welcome to Module 410m
Module 4 Readings10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Quiz 420m

Instructor

Dr. Jacob L. Wright

Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible
Candler School of Theology and the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies

About Emory University

Emory University, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the world's leading research universities. Its mission is to create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in the service of humanity....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

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