Fuller Logo

Spring 2014/Menlo Park




DESCRIPTION: This course offers an inductive introduction to the Old Testament through the lens of its latest canonical portion, the Writings. Close attention will be given to the Psalms, the Wisdom literature (Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes), the Festival books (Ruth, Song of Songs, Lamentations, and Esther), and the historical books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah and discussions will center on the content, interpretive issues, and theological perspectives of these books. From these varied works, examples of literary, historical, and theological connections will be traced to the rest of the canon, “the Law and the Prophets.”

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Students who successfully complete the course will have shown that they (1) have grasped the outline of Israel’s history as portrayed in Old and New Testaments and in light of modern study; (2) understand the nature and process of the Old Testament’s composition, especially as illustrated by the books in the Writings; (3) understand the nature of worship, prayer, and wisdom as illustrated by the Writings and its relationship with ancient Near Eastern equivalents; (4) know how to interpret Old Testament narrative, as illustrated by the Writings; (5) have looked at aspects of the Writings from angles other than those of the male, white, Western world; (6) have reflected on the significance of the Writings for Christian theology, mission, and discipleship; (7) understand the theological perspectives of the books of the Writings and the ways in which those perspectives intersect with one another and inform the contemporary life of faith.

COURSE FORMAT: This course meets on four Saturdays, for a total of 30 hours of class time, plus weekly online engagement using Moodle. The format will include a combination of lecture, discussion, small group/collaborative and online work. A final “post-class” assignment, as well as collaborative work with other students, extends the course’s learning beyond the four meeting times.

REQUIRED READING: 1,000 pages required.

The Bible (in NRSV, TNIV, or CEB).

Arnold, Bill T. and Bryan E. Beyer. Readings from the Ancient Near East: Primary Sources for Old Testament Study. Baker Academic, 2002. ISBN: 978-0801022920, Pub. Price $24.99 [40 pp. assigned].

Brueggemann. Walter. The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary. Augsburg Fortress, 1985. ISBN: 978-0806621203, Pub. Price $19.00 [150 pp. assigned].

Clifford, Richard J. The Wisdom Literature. Abingdon Press, 1998. ISBN: 978-0687008469, Pub. Price $24.99 [100 pp. assigned].

Collins, John J. A Short Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Augsburg Fortress, 2007. ISBN: 978-0800662073, Pub. Price $39.00 [105 pp. assigned].

Doran, Robert, Leander E. Keck, J. McCann, and Carol A Newsom, eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Volume IV: Introduction to Hebrew Poetry, Job, Psalms, 1 & 2 Maccabees. Abingdon Press, 1996. ISBN: 978-0687278176, Pub. Price $75.99 [350 pp. assigned]. [Also available through iPreach in Hubbard Library databases].

Falk, Marcia. The Song of Songs: A New Translation. Harper San Francisco, 1993. ISBN: 978-0062503060, Pub. Price $26.00 [45 pp. assigned].

Moodle readings on Gender and the books of Ruth and Esther:

Newsom, Carol A. and Sharon Ringe, eds. Women’s Bible Commentary: Essays on Ruth and Esther. Westminster John Knox, 1998. [Readings available on Moodle and will be discussed in class]. [12 pp. assigned].


  1. Class Preparation/Participation: (5%). [This assignment is related to learning outcome # 1].

  • Reading of assigned biblical passages from the Writings (in modern translation of the Bible) as given in class (see course schedule)

  • Reading of required textbooks and other supplementary materials provided in class.

  • Assessed by evidence of preparation for class and participation in in-class group assignments

  1. Weekly Moodle “Reading Notebook” Postings: In order to assess the student’s engagement with the basic content discussed in the biblical and textbook readings and to extend the course’s engagement beyond the weekend meetings, each student will use Moodle to respond to a set of 3 questions each week (after the first meeting of the class). The questions are provided in the syllabus and each student should post a 2 to 3 sentence response to each of the week’s 3 questions by each Friday at 5:00pm. The “Reading Notebook” questions contain brief responses to specific inquiries dealing with basic content covered in the readings. In keeping with the aims of this course using the Writings as an introduction to the OT, the early sets of questions will deal with textbook readings related to general introductory issues for the OT and the later sets will cover topics related to the Writings in particular (35%). [This assignment is related to learning outcomes # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7].

  2. “The Bible Gone Wild?”: Critical and Theological Reflection Paper on Interpreting the Song of Songs (5 pages; instructions provided in class) (20%). [This assignment is related to learning outcomes # 2, 3, & 4].

  3. Final Exegetical Paper on a text from the Writings (the text can be of the student’s choosing but should be approximately 10 verses in length) (ca. 12 pages; instructions provided in class) (40%). [This assignment is related to learning outcomes # 2, 4, 5, 6, & 7].


RELATIONSHIP TO CURRICULUM: Meets MDiv core requirement in Old Testament "c" (OTC) and Seminary Core Requirement (SCR) for MATM, MAICS, MAFS, MACL.


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.