Free Online Course: The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future, with Jacob L. Wright

emory

Professor Jacob Wright of Emory University is to present a 7-week Coursera MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on the development of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: “The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future”.

The course will commence Monday, May 26, 2014, and enrolments are now open.

About the Course

The objectives of the course are to show:
—how the Bible emerged from large-scale corporate crisis and rupture;
—that in our present state of uncertainty and instability we have much to learn from the various strategies the biblical authors adopted to create an enduring “people of the book”;
—that one doesn’t have to believe in God or accept the historicity of the Bible in order to appreciate its profound political messages;
—that the Bible offers modern societies a model for creating communities around a shared collection of texts, songs, and laws;
—and that the Bible itself has a major role to play in our futures.

Course Syllabus

Week 1: The Riddle That Has Yet To Be Solved
The Bible’s Purpose
Books in Ancient Religions
Between “Church and State”
Theologies of the Bible
A Shared Text
The Bible as a “Pedagogical Program of Peoplehood”

Week 2: The Rise and Fall
Israel’s Place in the World of the Ancient Near East
The Emergence of Two Competing Kingdoms
Military Triumphs
The Onslaught of Imperial Powers
Defeat and Deportation
Conditions of Conquest

Week 3: The Making of the Bible as a Response to Defeat
Diaspora and Divided Communities
Creating a Shared Past and Common Ancestors
The Pentateuch and Historical Narratives
One People with Multiple Law Codes
Creating a Collection of National Songs and Laments
Reinterpreting Prophecies
Comparative Cases: English and German History

Week 4: Reinventing the Hero
Martial Valor, Masculinity, and Martyrdom
Long Life versus Glorified Heroic Death
The New Role of the Family
From Battles to Building
Comparatives Cases: From the Crow Nation to Jane Austen

Week 5: A Wise and Discerning People  
The Role of Education
National Education Programs: From 19th Century Germany to the Dalai Lama
From Deuteronomy to Ezra-Nehemiah
Freedom of Information and Open Access
Making Priestly Knowledge Public
The Attempts of the State to Control Prophets
Divine Knowledge for the People, Not Solely the King
The Reason Why Biblical Writings Survived Catastrophes

Week 6: Covenant and Kinship
The Rise of Empires
One God
A New “Political-Theology”
Covenantal Ethics of Peoplehood
The Power of Law
Protecting the Individual and Defending Difference
Caring for the Land

Week 7: The Bible’s Future
The Bible’s Pedagogical and Political Purpose
The Bible’s Radical Theology
The Bible as an Attempt to Unify Rival Communities
The Bible’s Impact on Political Identities Throughout the World
The Bible’s Role in the Public Sphere and in Secular Society
The Bible as a Model for New Forms of Community

Jacob L. Wright on Aronofsky’s Noah and Flood Traditions

In the latest episode of Emory Looks at Hollywood series, Jacob L. Wright, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Emory’s Candler School of Theology, discusses the various Flood traditions which lie behind and within, and which were inspired by the biblical Flood story, including one of the most recent developments in the unfolding tradition, Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah (2014).

Wright also has a short article on the same subject in Sacred Matters, “Noah: An Unrighteous Man”.

See also:

Cathleen Falsani, interview with Darren Aronofsky, “The ‘Terror’ of Noah: How Darren Aronofsky Interprets the Bible”, The Atlantic, March 26, 2014

Annette Yoshiko Reed, “Who Gets to Decide if Noah is Biblical?” Religion Despatches, April 1, 2014

h/t: Jim West

Interview with Jacob L. Wright on Nehemiah

arutz-sheva-7

Eve Harow, of Arutz Sheva 7 Radio‘s “Judean Eve” program, interviews Dr Jacob L. Wright on his work, in particular his book Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah-memoir and Its Earliest Readers (2004).

The interview is in the Hour 2 portion of “Judean Eve”, 21 Tevet 5771 (20 Dec 2010).

The article mentioned at the beginning of the interview is also available free online: Jacob L. Wright, “A Nation Conceived in Defeat”, Azure no. 42, Autumn 5771 / 2010.

Dr. Jacob Wright is assistant professor of Hebrew Bible in the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta and Director of Graduate Studies in the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies. At Emory, he teaches courses on biblical interpretation, the history and archaeology of ancient Israel, and Northwest Semitic languages. He is the author of Rebuilding Identity: The Nehemiah Memoir and Its Earliest Readers, which won a Sir John Templeton Award (the largest prize for first books in religion). In addition to responsibilities in the excavations at Ramat Rachel (located outside Jerusalem), he is currently writing a book for Oxford University Press that examines the relationship between war, memory and national identity in ancient Israelite society. He spoke with Eve from Paris, where he is lecturing and receiving another distinguished award. His thesis is that, thanks to the Biblical authors and figures like Ezra and Nehemiah, the defeat of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah ultimately fostered a more resilient and enduring national identity that was able to sustain the loss of territorial sovereignty. The Bible presents procreation and education as the ultimate strategies of Jewish survival. Listen to the interview to understand this tremendous, brilliant Bible scholar and his unique contributions to Jewish thought.