1. How does the Protestant Old Testament differ from the Hebrew Bible?
2. How does the Catholic Old Testament differ from the Protestant canon?
3. What are Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Deuterocanonical books, and the Septuagint (LXX)?
4. What are the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible?
5. Why is the Greek translation important for the text of the Hebrew Bible?
6. What new light has been shed on the formation of the Hebrew Bible by the Dead Sea Scrolls?
7. According to the Bible’s own chronology, when did the Exodus take place?
8. Why is the Bible’s own chronology regarded as problematic?
9. According to modern scholars, when was the Torah or Pentateuch completed?
10. When did the canon of the Hebrew Bible take shape?
11. What is form criticism? redaction criticism?
Barton, John, and John Muddiman, editors. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2001.
Brown, Raymond E., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, editors. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1990.
Dunn, James D. G., and John Rogerson, editors. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.
Farmer, William R., editor.. The International Bible Commentary: A Catholic and Ecumenical Commentary for the Twenty-First Century Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical, 1998.
Mays, James L., editor. The HarperCollins Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000.
Newsom, Carol A., and Sharon H. Ringe, editors. Women’s Bible Commentary. Expanded edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998.
iTanakh (R. Christopher Heard)—an index of internet resources for the study of the Hebrew Bible
Old Testament Gateway—an annotated academic directory to websites on the Old Testament
Miller, Patrick D. “Can Two Walk Together without an Appointment?” Theology Today 52 (1995) 169–72. This article asks and begins to answer the question: “Why is it so difficult in our time to join Scripture and theology, to bring together serious attention to the Bible and systematic articulation of the Christian faith?”
Chapter 1. The Near Eastern Context
Questions for Review and Discussion
1. Who were the Sumerians?
2. What is Akkadian? Ugaritic?
3. For what was Hammurabi famous? When did he live?
The Old Testament and the Ancient Near East (Ralph W. Klein)
Websites Relating to the Ancient Near Eastern World (K.C. Hanson)
Chapter 2. The Nature of the Pentateuchal Narrative Questions for Review and Discussion
1. Why do scholars distinguish different sources in the Pentateuch?
2. What are the major identifying characteristics of the J source? Of the E source
3. What is the profile of the P source? Of D?
4. What is the importance of the reform of King Josiah in 621 B.C.E. for dating the sources of the Pentateuch?
5. What are some current criticisms of the documentary hypothesis?
Chapter 3. Primeval History (Genesis 1–11) Questions for Review and Discussion
1. What are the main similarities and differences between the Atrahasis myth and Genesis 1–11?
2. In what ways does the story of Gilgamesh shed light on the story of Adam and Eve?
3. How should we understand the role of the serpent in the story of Adam and Eve?
4. Does the story of Adam and Eve imply a doctrine of original sin? Does it imply that women should be subordinate to men?
5. In what ways does the flood story in Genesis differ from other flood stories of the ancient Near East?
6. What are the main differences between the Priestly account of creation in Genesis 1 and the Yahwist (J) account in Genesis 2–3?
7. What are the main themes that run through the primeval history (Genesis 1–11) in the Yahwist source?
Clines, David J. A. “The Theology of the Flood Narrative.” In On the Way to the Postmodern: Old Testament Essays 1967-1998. JSOT Supplement Series 292. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1998, vol. 2, 508–23.
1 Kings 12—2 Kings 25: Tales of Prophets and the End of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah Questions for Review and Discussion
1. What picture do we get of the working of prophecy in Israel from the story of Micaiah ben Imlah in 1 Kings 22?
2. What historical value can be attributed to the stories of Elijah and Elisha?
3. In what ways do the stories about Elijah symbolize the conflict between YHWH and Baal?
4. How do you evaluate the action of Elijah in killing the prophets of Baal?
5. What is the function of the story of Elijah’s journey to Mt. Horeb in 1 Kings 19?
6. What is the function of the story of Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21?
7. Compare and contrast the stories about Elisha with those about Elijah.
8. What ethical issues are presented by the story of Jehu’s coup?
9. What extra-biblical evidence do we have for the end of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah?
10. How is the end of these kingdoms evaluated in 2 Kings?
Brueggemann, Walter. “The Embarrassing Footnote.” Theology Today 44 (1987) 5–14. (“We find ourselves placed between the traditions of certitude that want to know and so to be safe, and the embarrassing footnote of hurt and amazement which defies the traditions of certitude and refuses to leave the world safe and unbothered. That epistemological dilemma is now powerfully at work in the great conflicts of international politics … [and] in most serious church quarrels.”)
Na’aman, Nadav. “New Light on Hezekiah’s Second Prophetic Story (2 Kgs 19,9b-35).” Biblica 81 (2000) 393–402.
Parker, Simon B. “Appeals for Military Intervention: Stories from Zinjirli and the Bible.” Biblical Archaeologist 59 (1996) 213–24.
Chapter 17. The Babylonian Era: Jeremiah, and Lamentations Questions for Review and Discussion
1. How do you understand the composition of the Book of Jeremiah?
2. Compare and contrast the call of Jeremiah with those of Isaiah and Ezekiel.
3. How does the Book of Jeremiah relate to the Deuteronomistic reform?
4. What is Jeremiah’s attitude to the kingship?
5. How does Jeremiah relate to prophets who took opposing positions?
6. What is the attitude to Babylonian rule in the Book of Jeremiah?
7. What hope for the future is there in the Book of Jeremiah?
8. How do you understand the confessions of Jeremiah and their depiction of the role of the prophet?
9. How do you understand the literary structure of Lamentations?
10. How might Lamentations have functioned in antiquity?
11. What value can be found in Lamentations for today?
Halpern, Baruch. “The Baal (and the Asherah?) in Seventh-Century Judah.”
Watts, James W. “Psalmody in Prophecy: Habakkuk 3 in Context.” In Forming Prophetic Literature: Essays on Isaiah and the Twelve in Honor of John D. W. Watts, ed. J. W. Watts and P. R. House, 209–23. JSOT Supplement Series 235. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1986.
Byt Yhwh Inscription (ninth to seventh century B.C.E.)—K. C. Hanson
Ralph W. Klein. “Faithful and Free: Ezekiel’s Response to the Exile.” In Israel in Exile. Overtures to Biblical Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979.