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Robert Abzug, Director CLA 2.402, 305 E 23rd St B3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-475-6178

Jo Ann Hackett

Professor Ph.D., Harvard University

Jo Ann Hackett

Contact

J S 364 • Ancient Israel: Judges

40360 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm BEN 1.126
(also listed as MEL 321, MES 342, R S 353 )
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The book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible is quite possibly the best book in the Bible. That description may be slightly biased, but the book is full of great stories—Deborah and Jael, for instance, or Samson and Delilah—and it is a proving ground for many historical-critical theories for interpreting the Bible. We will concentrate on a close reading of the text, of course, but we will also study the archaeology of Iron Age 1; textual criticism; gender criticism; the Deuteronomistic History and the editing of the book; unusual cultic arrangements; and the religion(s) of the period, to the extent that we can reconstruct any.

Texts

  • A modern translation of the Bible
  • Susan Niditch, Judges (Old Testament commentary)
  • Assigned readings

Grading

  • Attendance 10%
  • Each 2-page paper 5%
  • Each exam during the term 20%
  • Final exam 25%

J S 363 • In Search Of King David

40604 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BEN 1.126
(also listed as MEL 321, MES 342, R S 365 )
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The first use of the term "Israel" occurs on an Egyptian stela from around 1200 BCE. It simply describes a group of people rather than a town or city or any other geographical entity, although they are situated in what will later be the borders of ancient Israel. Between that time and the later rule of Kings Saul, David, Solomon, and others is a 200-year period when ancient Israel emerges, first from the rugged highlands and later over a much larger territory. From this premonarchic era we have a series of narratives of men and women called, variously, saviors or deliverers or "judges."  This class will cover the book of Judges in its entirety, from the earliest poetry through the narratives of the deliverers, including the book's editing and placement within the Bible, ending with the disturbing final chapters of the book that speak of deceit, rape, and war.

Texts

  • Common English Bible
  • Judges (Old Testament Library), by Susan Niditch
  • various readings to be provided

Grading

  • Attendance in class, 10%
  • Quizzes over the reading, 20%
  • Oral reports, 20%
  • Report on a scholarly article 20%
  • Research paper, 30%

J S 363 • In Search Of King David

40053 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm WAG 308
(also listed as MEL 321, MES 342, R S 365 )
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Israel’s second king, David son of Jesse, is remembered in later literature as the ideal king—he overcame obstacles to rule a large kingdom; he was loyal to and beloved of Yahweh, Israel’s god; he played the lyre and wrote psalms; he was even the type of the Messiah, an idea taken over by the early Christians. But is that really the way the Hebrew Bible paints him? Was he a king by Yahweh’s design or a usurper? Was he moved to compose a lovely poem to King Saul and his son Jonathan or responsible for their deaths? What kind of loyal Yahwist would send his pregnant mistress’s husband to die in battle?

David is an enigma, no less to modern scholars than to ancient narrators. We will examine his story in the context of the Hebrew Bible, of archaeology, of other kings in the ancient Near East, and of his relationships—with his family, with Saul, and with Yahweh.

Texts/Readings

Common English Bible

Life in Biblical Israel, by Philip King and Lawrence Stager.

Articles posted on Blackboard

Grading

40%  6- to 8-page project describing art devoted to King David 15%   Oral Report on the art project 10%   Peer Review of the Oral Report 10%   Attendance in class 25%   Participation in class

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