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Winter 2014/Menlo Park




DESCRIPTION: This course will commence with an overview of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, highlighting descriptions of Israel’s leaders and the distinct role played by prophets in these narratives. The course will then move to the texts of Hosea-Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, emphasizing the developing prophetic genre and analyzing various literary features and social themes. Lectures and discussions will join these socio-historical understandings of the prophetic voice with its theological application to today’s readers/hearers of the biblical text.

SIGNIFICANCE FOR LIFE AND MINISTRY: The prophetic message of God’s justice and mercy continues to have profound implications for the mission of the church and for society at large. The image of the prophet, as a carrier of this vital message, can also help shape understandings of what it means to be a bearer of God’s message within a contemporary context of pastoral ministry.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: After completing this course, participants will be able to: 1) recount the broad biblical narrative of the ancient Israelites from the Conquest through the Judean Exile and outline the biblical critique of the Israelite monarchy; 2) describe the scope of the prophet’s “job description” based on the biblical narrative; 3) utilize information from the social sciences to inform readings of the prophetic corpus; 4) explain how the literary structure and features of Hebrew poetry help form our understanding of the prophet’s message; and 5) demonstrate the ability to reflect on these texts exegetically and theologically (both verbally and in writing), based on a participant-selected pericope.

COURSE FORMAT: This course will met once weekly in a three-hour block and will include a combination of lecture, class discussion and small-group interaction. Participants should expect to spend an additional four to six hours per week reading and preparing for class sessions.

REQUIRED READING: Approximately 260 pages of biblical text (excluding notes) plus 580 pages of outside readings and class handouts, totaling 840 pages.

The Bible (NRSV, CEB, or TNIV).

Leclerc, Thomas L. Introduction to the Prophets: Their Stories, Sayings, and Scrolls. New York: Paulist Press, 2007, (xvii-390). ISBN: 978-0809144921, Pub. Price $18.00.

To Be Posted On-line:

Brueggemann, Walter. “The Prophet as Mediator.” In Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997 (622-649).

Chaney, Marvin L. “Bitter Bounty: The Dynamics of Political Economy Critiqued by the Eighth-Century Prophets.” In Norman K. Gottwald and Richard A. Horsley, eds., The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993 (250-63).

Dempsey, Carol. “Power and Domination,” “Amos,” and “Micah.” In The Prophets: A Liberation-Critical Reading. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000 (4-34).

Gottwald, Norman K. “Israelite Politics according to the Hebrew Bible.” In Norman K. Gottwald, The Politics of Ancient Israel. Library of Ancient Israel. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007 (32-57).

Meyers, Carol. “The Family in Early Israel.” In Leo Perdue, ed., Families in Ancient Israel. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997 (1-41).

Perdue, Leo G., “The Household, Old Testament Theology, and Contemporary Hermeneutics.” In Leo Perdue, ed., Families in Ancient Israel. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997 (223-257).


Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Poetry. Revised and Updated. New York: Basic Books, 2011. ISBN: 978-0465022564, Pub. Price $18.00.

Keefe, Alice. “Introduction,” “Female Fornication and Fertility Religion,” and “The Fertility Cult Revisited” in Woman’s Body and Social Body in Hosea 1-2. New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001 (7-103).

Miller, J. Maxwell and John H. Hayes. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. Second Edition. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006, (80-457). ISBN: 978-0664223588, Pub. Price $18.00.


  1. Attendance and active participation (15%).*

  2. Six one to two-page prompt-driven response papers (15%).

  3. In-class mid-term exam (20%).

  4. 3,000 word exegesis paper (25%).

  5. Final oral presentation (25%).

*Since a substantial amount of material will be covered in each class meeting, each unexcused absence (missing all or a significant part of a class without prior consent of the instructor) will result in a 5% reduction in the participant’s overall course grade. Course participants will be able to compensate for excused absences by completing additional writing assignments. Also, up to 3% of the overall course grade may be deducted at the judgment of the instructor for each class session where participants are not prepared to discuss the salient points of the assigned readings.


RELATIONSHIP TO CURRICULUM: Meets M.Div. core requirement in Old Testament “b” (OTB).

FINAL EXAMINATION: In-class presentation of the text selected for exegesis.

NOTE: This ECD is a reliable guide to the course design but is subject to modification. Textbook prices are set by publishers and are subject to change.