China Reformed Theological Seminary Syllabus for Pentateuch Fall 2010
Origins, rivalry, escape, menus, complaining, grace, mission—these are some of the topics that the Pentateuch discusses. This course examines the contents and theology of the Pentateuch. For this reason, it has to do with beginnings: the beginning of the world, the beginning of sin, and the beginning of redemption. Our study of the Pentateuch will emphasize the foundational importance of the first part of the Old Testament for sacred history, biblical theology, and godly living.
First, to gain familiarity with the historical, literary, and theological contents of the Pentateuch Second, to gain facility at interpreting and applying the Pentateuch within a redemptive-historical context Third, to see the Pentateuch in its ancient Near Eastern context
Fourth, to learn the currents of pentateuchal scholarship
1) For the first assignment, students will read the following books and answer the questions
that accompany this syllabus. These answers are due at the beginning of each class. Students should use an open book when answering the questions.
LaSor, William Sanford, David Alan Hubbard, and Frederic William Bush. Old Testament Survey, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996. ISBN 0-8028-3788-3 [BS1140.2.L25]
Longman, Tremper III and Raymond B. Dillard. An Introduction to the Old Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006. ISBN 0-310-26341-7 [BS1140.3.L66]
Wenham, Gordon. A Guide to the Pentateuch. Exploring the Old Testament 1.
Downers Grove, Il.: InterVarsity, 2003. ISBN 0-8308-2551-7 [BS1140.3.M33]
2) For the next assignment, students should read the following books. Note the pages for the
Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon.
2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. Read pages 43-57, 75-81, and 269-328. ISBN 0-8010-2798-5 [BV4211.3.C48]
Duguid, Iain M. Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel in the Lives of Isaac and Jacob. The Gospel According to the Old Testament. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2002. ISBN 0-87552-655-1 [BS580.I67 D84]
Let the professor explain the use of a homiletics book. The professor realizes that not all students in this course are training to become preachers. Even so, what Bryan Chapell says about interpreting the Bible will help you avoid the typical approach that Christians take to reading and teaching the Bible, especially the Old Testament. That approach, known as moralism, emphasizes biblical morality while overlooking biblical redemption. Moralism is cruel because it sets up people for failure and despair. It tells them to obey God in their own strength, which they cannot do, and ignores the grace of God in Jesus that makes Christian living possible. Getting back to the assignment, take no more than five pages to consider how you might teach yourself or others about the gospel in the lives of Isaac, Jacob, and their families. How can you help yourself or those to whom you minister identify with these ancient people? In other words, what are the pastoral issues (or fallen condition foci, to use Chapell’s terminology) that you or others share with Isaac, Jacob, and their families? How can you help yourself or others see that Jesus resolves the pastoral issues in these patriarchal narratives and in people’s lives today? If this assignment helps you read and teach Genesis in a redemptive-historical or Christ-centered way, then you will be able to avoid moralism in all other parts of the Bible, and you will also be able to help others do the same. This assignment is due on November 17.
3) For the third assignment, students should read pages 1-179 in the following book:
Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg
Fortress, 2004. ISBN 0-8006-2991-4 [BS1140.3.C65]
Rather than answering questions about the contents of this book, students will write a response paper of about five pages. This paper should compare and contrast Collins’ approach to the Pentateuch with the approaches of LaSor-Hubbard-Bush, Longman-Dillard, and Wenham. Students should feel free to express their personal evaluation of Collins in relation to the other authors. The professor suggests that students read Collins alongside of the other authors and record observations that can later be shaped into a paper closer to the due date, which is December 8. Those students who are pastors may want to approach this assignment with the following scenario. A young woman in the church that you pastor comes home from college, and the two of you get to talking about her semester. She says that her religion professor approached the Old Testament differently than she had learned in Sunday School. When you ask what textbook the professor assigned, the young woman says that she read Introduction to the Hebrew Bible by John Collins. What do you say next to help your confused parishioner? If you are not a pastor, perhaps your experience with a university professor could inform your approach to this assignment. If you teach at Bethany or another Christian school, you may have faced questions about the Bible curriculum from
parents whose education or beliefs are closer to Collins. This assignment is designed to make you think critically and apologetically about the issues that Collins raises.
4) A final examination will cover the content of the class lectures and discussions. This test
will consist of essays. The professor will give students a list of potential questions on December 8 and then select some of those questions for the actual exam. If we need December 15 to finish the lectures, this exam will be done outside of class.
Was your Sunday School teacher right about Mosaic authorship
LaSor, Hubbard, and Bush, 3-14 Longman and Dillard, 13-53 Wenham, 1-7 and 159-185
Paradise created and lost, but don’t despair (Genesis 1-11)
LaSor/Hubbard/Bush, 15-31 Longman and Dillard, 53-58 and 61 Wenham, 9-34
How God works through a dysfunctional family (Genesis 12-50)
LaSor/Hubbard/Bush, 32-51 Longman and Dillard, 59-61 and 61-62 Wenham, 35-56
Will the real God please stand up (Exodus 1-17)
LaSor, Hubbard, and Bush, 52-79 Longman and Dillard, 63-80 Wenham, 57-80
How a redeemed people should live (Exodus 18-40)
Scriptural Sominex (sacrificial and priestly regulations in Lev-Deut)
LaSor/Hubbard/Bush, 80-98 Longman and Dillard, 81-91 Wenham, 81-101
More Scriptural Sominex (the purity laws in Leviticus 11-15)
All work and no worship makes for a long year (Lev 23 and 25)
Longman and Dillard, 92-101 Wenham, 103-122
Tension in Deuteronomy between now and not yet
LaSor/Hubbard/Bush, 111-127 Longman and Dillard, 102-119 Wenham, 123-143
Remind me again: what is the Pentateuch about
Wenham, 145-158 and 187-197 second paper due
average of answers to the questions on the readings
The professor grades papers with the following standard:
The paper demonstrates outstanding coverage of the material that is clear and accurate. What distinguishes an A paper from a B paper is the writer’s ability to develop the material in breadth and depth beyond what is necessary for a good understanding of it. The author engages with the material in a way that is marked by advanced creativity, exceptional insight, and extensive research. There are no errors in grammar or manuscript style.
The paper demonstrates a solid grasp of the material. The research and the discussion are thorough without being exceptional. The grammar and manuscript style are acceptable, but not necessarily flawless.
The paper demonstrates average coverage of the material and so lacks breadth and depth of analysis. Though there are no serious weaknesses in the information presented, the overall structure is unclear, narrow, and shallow. The paper is devoid of imaginative and interesting analysis. There is poor grammar and/or manuscript style.
The paper is notably defective according to the above criteria.
The paper evidences a complete failure to interact with the material in accordance with the above criteria.
Late papers will be penalized a full letter grade within the semester. The professor will not accept assignments beyond the last day of the semester (December 17, 2010). Any paper received after this day will receive a zero. This policy is for your benefit. You do not want unfinished work hanging over your head after the semester, especially during the Christmas season.
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