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Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Fall 2006

MES 381 • Scrolls of Ruth & Lamentations

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42980 TH
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
CAL 419

Course Description

The book of Ruth is one of the five scrolls in the Bible: Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and Esther, incorporated in the Hagiographa section of the bible. The book contains a very sensitive, idylic love story and concludes with the genealogy of King David, which may have been the ultimate purpose of the author of this scroll. The ancient background of the Book of Ruth may be reflected in the manners and the aristocratic way of behavior it describes, which are similar to those in the patriarchal stories as well as in the stories from monarchial period. Thus, the book abounds with expressions of gracious manners which are characteristic of the patriarchal narratives and the Books of Samuel. The Book of Ruth, short as it is, may be considered a gem in the world literature. This Scroll is recited in the Synagogue on the Holiday of Shavout. The Book of Lamentations in another one in the Five Scrolls. It consists of five poetic chapters lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, with the hope that repentance and submission could bring an end to the suffering, with a promise "He will exile you no longer." The lamentations constitute great poetry. The first four poems are alphabetic acrostics, as if to express the gamut of sorrow from A to Z. Chapter five, while not acrostic, consists of 22 verses corresponding to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The authorship is attributed to the Prophet Jeremiah, which is also reflected in the introductory verses of the Septuag??? And in the Targum. This scroll is recited on Tish'ah Bav (The ninth day of Ab). We will read these 2 texts in Hebrew and interpret them and discuss them in English.

Grading Policy

Grading will be based mainly on assigned readings, class discussion, reports (and a term paper for graduate students). In addition to regular class assignments throughout the semester, undergraduate students' final requirement will be a written project based on the texts that we are studying. Graduate students need to submit in addition to that a term paper.


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