Rewriting the Exodus: Susan Docherty’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture

On May 23, 2016, Professor Susan Docherty (Newman University, Birmingham) delivered her Inaugural Professorial Lecture, “Rewriting The Exodus”.

The biblical account of the Exodus has always been significant for Jews in constructing their history, identity and theology. The story of how God acted through Moses to free the Israelite slaves from their suffering in Egypt is, not surprisingly, retold in numerous Jewish writings throughout the centuries.

In Graeco-Roman times, the large number of Jews living outside of Palestine in cities and towns throughout the Empire particularly enjoyed celebrating Moses as a Hebrew hero who triumphed over hostile foreign powers. One of the most interesting of these retellings, known as the Exagoge, takes the form of a Greek Tragedy. I will discuss the interpretation given to the Exodus in this play, and how this compares to that found in other early Jewish sources and the New Testament.

This text raises questions which are still relevant today, including how far religion can be assimilated to different cultures, and how free theologians should feel to adapt authoritative sacred texts to respond to new circumstances.

The lecture is available for viewing on Panopto:

 

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The Historical Reliability of the Bible – Francesca Stavrakopoulou

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On January 17, 2017, Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou (University of Exeter) was interviewed by Dan Snow (BBC) on the History Hit podcast. The topic is “The Historical Reliability of the Bible“, and Professor Stavrakopoulou provides a summary of mainstream scholarship on the historicity of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament.

The interview is available in mp3 audio format (28:56).

Ron Hendel: “The Exodus as Cultural Memory”

Professor Ron Hendel (University of California at Berkeley) delivered a lecture at the Arizona Centre for Judaic Centre on March 9, 2015, on the subject of “The Exodus as Cultural Memory”.

The Exodus is a central event in biblical and Jewish memory. But according to the archaeological and historical record, it is unclear what it is a memory of.  I propose that it is, in part, a transformed memory of the demise of the Egyptian Empire in Canaan, which facilitated the emergence of Israel as an independent people.  The story served as an engine of a distinctive cultural identity, a function that it continues to perform today.

The lecture begins at 5:30.

A version of the lecture was published in Israel’s Exodus in Transdisciplinary Perspective, edited by Thomas E. Levy, Thomas Schneider, and William H.C. Propp (Springer, 2015).

Roland Boer on the Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel

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In an audio interview with Marginalia‘s Joseph Ryan Kelly, Roland Boer (Professor of Liberal Arts at Renmin University, Beijing) discusses his book The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel (Westminster John Knox, 2015).

How a Marxist-inspired theory and Soviet-era Russian scholarship help us better understand the world of the Bible. Joseph Ryan Kelly talks with Roland Boer about his new book, The Sacred Economy of Ancient Israel.

 

Richard Dawkins converses with John Huddlestun about the Non-Historicity of the Old Testament

Zoologist Dr Richard Dawkins (New College, Oxford) converses with Professor John Huddlestun (College of Charleston) about the non-historicity of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

The Book of Exodus: Myths and Stories – Thomas Römer’s 2014-2015 Seminars at the Collège de France

Videos of Professor Thomas Römer’s 2014 and 2015 seminars at the Collège de France, entitled The Book of Exodus: Myths and Stories, are available at the Collège’s website, or for download at the links provided below (800mb+). The seminars have been overdubbed by an English translator.

His lectures cover similar material to that in his book, Moïse en version originale (Bayard, 2015).

Thomas Römer is Professor of Old Testament at the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and the Collège de France, and author of many works, including Israels Väter (1990), on the Patriarchal traditions in the Pentateuch, and The So-called Deuteronomistic History (2007), on the unity and disunity in the books of Deuteronomy to Kings.

20 FEBRUARY 2014, 2:00 pm
Introduction: Between Autocthony and Allochthony – the Invention of the Exodus

27 FEBRUARY 2014, 2:00 pm
The Oppression in Egypt

06 MARCH 2014, 2:00 pm
Pharaoh’s Midwives: The Birth of Moses, an Imported Legend

13 MARCH 2014, 2:00 pm
The Birth of Moses (continuation). Moses and the Midianites (Part I)

20 MARCH 2014, 2:00 pm
Moses and the Midianites (Part II)

27 MARCH 2014, 2:00 pm
From the Divine Name to the Attack of Moses. Preparations of the Narrative of the Plagues

03 APRIL 2014, 2:00 pm
A Competition of Magicians ? The « Plagues » of Egypt

10 APRIL 2014, 2:00 pm
The Institution of the Passover and the Passage of the Sea. The Historicization of a Myth

26 FEBRUARY 2015, 2:00 pm
Going out of Egypt: Building a Mythical Story

05 MARCH 2015, 2:00 pm
The Song of Myriam and Moses and the First Sojourn in the Desert: The “Law Before the Law”, Manna and Nostalgic Longings for Egypt (Exodus 15-17)

12 MARCH 2015, 2:00 pm
Exodus 16: The Discovery of Manna and the Sabbath

19 MARCH 2015, 2:00 pm
Massa and Meribah, the War Against Amalek and the Encounter on the Mountain of God (Exodus 17-18)

26 MARCH 2015, 2:00 pm
From the Mountain of God to Sinaï (Exodus 18-19)

02 APRIL 2015, 2:00 pm
Theophany, Covenant and Decalogue

09 APRIL 2015, 2:00 pm
The Decalogue and the Covenant Code

16 APRIL 2015, 2:00 pm
The Covenant Code, Breaking and Restoring the Covenant (Exodus 21-40)

Marty Michelson – Complex Characters in the Book of Samuel

Professor Marty Michelson (Southern Nazarene University) presented a lecture on the characters in the book of Samuel, in Oklahoma City on April 23, 2015, as part of the Museum of the Bible’s lecture series.

Notre Dame edX Course: Jesus in Scripture and Tradition

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The University of Notre Dame is offering a free 8-week course called Jesus in Scripture and Tradition, available from June 1, 2015.

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The instructors are Professor Gary Anderson (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament) and John C. Cavadini (Theology). The course can either be taken for free (audited), or at certificate level (at US$50), and in either case you will receive full access to the course materials.

About this course
The Bible says that Jesus was identified as God’s beloved son at his baptism. The same identification was made about Israel in the Old Testament and the disciples of Christ at their baptism. The striking similarity of these titles establishes a tight interrelationship between the people Israel, the person of Jesus Christ, and the church.

In this course, we will explore how a close reading of the book of Genesis, the Gospels, and early Christian writers can shed further light on these relationships and, in so doing, deepen our understanding of the figure of Jesus Christ. Unlike many other treatments, this course does not presume that Jesus’ character can be plumbed solely by an examination of the Gospel stories. The witness of the Jewish scriptures and the lives of the saints are also important sources for this task.

The course will be eight weeks in length and organized around three topical questions:

  • Who is Israel? (primary source material: the book of Genesis)
  • Who is Jesus? (primary source material: the Gospels and the Creeds)
  • Who is the Church? (primary source material: a selection of post-Biblical Christian writers)

No matter what your background in the study of theology, this course will provide a fresh approach to the identify of Jesus Christ that will reveal how the church has explored the unmeasurable depths of his person.

What you’ll learn

  • Recognize major people, places, and events of the Old and New Testament as related to the narratives of Israel and Jesus
  • Reflect on the mysteries of Christ
  • Examine the Church’s relationship to Christ
  • Explore religious questions through study of themes and selected biblical passages
  • Reflect on ways major biblical themes apply to modern life

 

Enroll here.

notre-dame-edx

The Quest for the Historical Israel: Israel Finkelstein vs. Amihai Mazar

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In October 2005, the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism invited Israel Finkelstein and Amihai Mazar to speak on the historicity of ancient Israel. The proceedings of Colloquium ’05 were published by the Society of Biblical Literature as The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel.

Videos of the lectures have now been made available on YouTube.

“Archaeology and the Bible” Israel Finkelstein

“Archaeology and the Bible” Amihai Mazar

“When Did the Jewish People Begin?” Israel Finkelstein

“When Did the Jewish People Begin?” Amihai Mazar

Colloquium Panel Response: When Did the Jewish People Begin?

“The Truth About Solomon’s Temple” Israel Finkelstein

“The Truth About Solomon’s Temple” Amihai Mazar

Colloquium Panel Response: Truth About Solomon’s Temple

“The Kingdoms of Israel And Judah” Israel Finkelstein

“The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah” Amihai Mazar

Colloquium Panel Response: Israel And Judah

“Patriarchs, Exodus, Conquest: Fact or Fiction?” Israel Finkelstein

“Patriarchs, Exodus, Conquest: Fact or Fiction?” Amihai Mazar

Colloquium Panel Response: Patriarchs, Exodus, Conquest

Colloquium Panel Response: Implications

Israel Finkelstein – Jacob M. Alkow Chair in the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University, author of The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts.

Amihai Mazar – Eleazar Sukenic Chair in the Archaeology of Israel ad Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Author ofArchaeology and the Land of the Bible.

Brian Schmidt (moderator) – Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. Author of Israel’s Beneficent Dead.

Harry Cook (panel) – Episcopal minister and journalist, former columnist for the Detroit Free Press, author of Christianity Beyond Creeds and Sermons of a Devoted Heretic.

Yaakov Malkin (panel) – Professor of aesthetics and rhetoric at Tel Aviv University, author of many works including Judaism Without God – Judaism as Culture, The Bible as Literature.

Paula McNutt (panel) – Professor of Religious Studies and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.

Rabbi Sherwin Wine (panel) – founding rabbi of the Birmingham Temple and Humanistic Judaism, author of Judaism Beyond God and Staying Sane in a Crazy World.

Genesis: Origins of the Universe and Humankind

The program title for the 73rd meeting of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was “Genesis: Origins of the Universe and Humankind”. The meeting involved professors from various disciplines within the university, including the following offerings from biblical scholarship:

Sunday June 6, 2010

Prof. Yair Zakovitch – From Creation to History (1:19:55)
Prof. Rachel Elior – Mystical Perspectives on Creation (1:50:20)

Tuesday June 8, 2010

Prof. Nili Wazana – Forever Outsiders: The Origins of Israel According to the Bible (1:08:05)

 

Free Online Course: The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem, with Oded Lipschits and Ido Koch

Professor Oded Lipschits and Ido Koch of Tel Aviv University are to present a 6-week Coursera MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on the archaeology and history of Jerusalem: “The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem”.

The course will begin on October 26, 2014, and enrolments are now open.

About the Course

The period of the demise of the Kingdom of Judah at the end of the sixth century B.C.E., the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, the exile of the elite to Babylon, and the reshaping of the territory of the new province of Judah, culminating at the end of the century with the first return of exiles – all have been subjects of intense scrutiny in modern scholarship. This course takes into account the biblical textual evidence, the results of archaeological research, and the reports of the Babylonian and Egyptian sources and provides a comprehensive survey and analysis of the evidence for the history of this 100-year-long era. The course includes a detailed discussion by Prof. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University, with guest lectures by leading scholars dealing with the archaeological and biblical aspects of this debated topic.

 

Course Syllabus

Week One
Introduction to geopolitics and geography of the Ancient Near East
Week Two
The turmoil of the seventh century BCE
Week Three
Judah under Babylonian rule
Week Four
The days of the destruction of Jerusalem
Week Five
Archaeology of the sixth century BCE
Week Six
The restoration of Jerusalem in the early Persian Period and Summary

Oded Lipschits: “The Myth of the Empty Land and The Myth of the Mass Return — A New Look on the History of Judah under Babylonian and Persian Rule”

Professor Oded Lipschits delivers the inaugural Dr. David A. Kipper Ancient Israel Lecture at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, entitled “The Myth of the Empty Land and The Myth of the Mass Return: A New Look on the History of Judah under Babylonian and Persian Rule”, April 29, 2013.

Eric H. Cline: “The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel” – On Archaeology and the Bible

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Professor Eric H. Cline delivers four lectures on the current state of archaeological contributions to the understanding of the Hebrew Bible. The lectures are available as mp3s and on iTunes. The lectures were originally delivered in February 2010 to the Josephine F. and H. Max Ammerman Study Retreat.

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel: Part I

Part one discusses the account of the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan.

mp3 iTunes

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel: Part II

Part two discusses David and Solomon. Both kings have been the subject of controversies and debates. A reference to the “House of David” was found in 1993 on an inscription in the north of Israel — the first extra-biblical mention of David yet discovered — allowing us to reconsider the evidence for David and Solomon.

mp3 iTunes

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel: Part III

Part three discusses how the expansionist ambitions of the Neo-Assyrians from Mesopotamia in the eighth century BCE spelled an end to the kingdom of Israel and gave rise to the tradition of the Ten Lost Tribes. The question of where the exiled members of these tribes ended up continues to be debated.

mp3 iTunes

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel: Part IV

Part four discusses how Nebuchadnezzar and the Neo-Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem not once but twice, burned the Temple of Solomon to the ground, and exiled the leading citizens of Jerusalem and Judah to the far-away city of Babylon. It also provides an in-depth look at Jewish history during the Babylonian period.

mp3 iTunes

Eric H. Cline is Chair of the Department of Classical and Semitic Languages and Literatures at The George Washington University.

Israel Finkelstein’s Website: Including eBook, Articles, Videos, and Lectures

Israel Finkelstein, Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations, Tel Aviv University, has a very useful personal website containing resources on the Bible and Archaeology.

The site includes his eBook:

The Forgotten Kingdom: The Archaeology and History of Northern Israel, Ancient Near East Monographs 5 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2013).

a number of his journal articles and book chapters, for example:

The Historical Reality behind the Genealogical Lists in 1 Chronicles“, Journal of Biblical Literature 131 (2012): 65-83.

A Great United Monarchy? Archaeological and Historical Perspectives“, in: R.G. Kratz and H. Spieckermann eds. 2010. One God – One Cult – One Nation: Archaeological and Biblical Perspectives. Berlin (2010): 3-28.

and a number of videos and lectures, including:

The Wilderness Itineraries: Who, How and When did Biblical Authors Know About the Southern Deserts

h/t:`Jim West

John J. Collins on The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence

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John J. Collins delivers the Presidential Address at the 2002 AAR/SBL Annual Meeting, entitled “The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence”, available as a real audio file. The Address was delivered at the first AAR/SBL Annual Meeting following 9/11.

Collins presented a “geneology of the concept of ‘the wrath of God'” and offered scriptural passages where God condones the obliteration of peoples and where “ritual violence” is connected to ideas of religious purity, land rights, and “chosen-ness.” While Collins pointed out that most likely none of these violent events ever occurred, he did underline the ethical implications of their status as part of the Bible especially in the current context of September 11 and possible war in Iraq. Collins’ advice to the Bible scholar was to note the diversity of approaches in the Bible (to relativize it); to admit the unethicalness of certain passages; and to show that certitude is an illusion. Collins offered the warning of another Irish luminary, Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Certitude leads to violence.”

– Eric Daniel Barreto and John Huehnergard, “Annual Meeting Toronto 2002 Highlights”, SBL Forum, n.p. Online:http://sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleID=115

The Address was later published as John J. Collins, “The Zeal of Phinehas: The Bible and the Legitimation of Violence“, Journal of Biblical Literature 122, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 3-21 (subscription required).