Rob Vanhoff, Instructor
3 Qrt Hrs
The focus of this class is the Torah. Our detailed readings of select passages will be informed by at least four different perspectives:
1. “The Pentateuch” as a single, coherent work of literature. What kind of text is the Torah? How does the Torah teach us to read it? We will look at the nature of “literary criticism” and how within the Torah we find narrative, law, and poetry woven together with a specific trajectory, “authorial intention,” and expectations for an “ideal reader.”
2. “Torah” as viewed by the rest of Scripture – Prophets, Writings, Gospels, Apostolic Writings. How are later “summaries” of the Torah helpful for us in identifying the proper approach to reading the text?
3. “Torah” as viewed within the rabbinic tradition. How did the rabbis understand “Torah”? How did their assumptions about revelation and authority influence their propogation of “Judaism”?
4. “Torah” as viewed by the church. In the history of Christianity, in what ways has the Torah been viewed?
There is no textbook for this course outside of the Bible. Secondary readings will be provided.
Students are expected to write three short response pieces to assigned secondary readings. A final project will entail an analysis of a student-selected section of the Torah (does not have to be defined by “chapter” or “parashah”!) as it relates a larger identified “meaning” of the Torah. In other words, you will select a story, law, or poem from the Torah and examine how it serves as a “microcosm” of the Torah as a whole. Some engagement with one or more of our secondary sources is expected. Analysis of Hebrew text for this project will be beneficial, but not essential.