Saint John the Evangelist Seminary

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SC 500:  Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

Course Syllabus 



Learning Goals


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

1. identify and outline the structure and contents of Old Testament books (GenesisKings)

2. list and use exegetical resources

3. identify historical and current issues in Old Testament scholarship

4. understand how knowledge of the biblical world influences one’s reading of Old



Required Texts


The textbook for the class is:

William Sanford LaSor, David Allan Hubbard and Frederic William Bush, Old

Testament Survey: The Message, Form and Background of the Old Testament. Second

Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996).


A modern translation of the Old Testament is also required. A refreshing Jewish

translation is Tanakh: The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew

Text (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1985). Other good modern translations

include the New Revised Standard Version and Today’s New International


Outline and Order of Readings:


TXB Chapters 47, 1, 48


TXB Chapters 2, 3, 4  and the Books of Genesis, Exodus


TXB Chapters 5, 6, 7  and the Books of Leviticus, Numbers


TXB Chapters 8, 9, 10  and the Books of Deuteronomy, Joshua


TXB Chapters 11, 38  and the Books of Ruth, 1 Samuel


TXB Chapters 12, 13 2 and the Books of Samuel, 1&2 Kings





Inductive Study of Readings from the Hebrew Scriptures

Use the following headings to organize your paper. Be sure that the amount of space 
devoted to each section reflects its value. For example, if you state the theme of the book 
in only two sentences, you cannot expect 25 marks.

Table of contents (10%)
This section could also be called an outline. Divide the book into sections with 
appropriate titles; please include the scripture references to indicate where each section 
and sub-section begins and ends. The divisions and their titles are graded considering 
their appropriateness, conciseness and – to a lesser extent – creativity. (N.B. Don’t be 
constrained by the traditional chapter divisions; remember that they are a late addition to 
the text and may not always be helpful in outlining the structure of a biblical book).

Analysis of the book’s structure (35%)
Expand and justify your table of contents. How did you come up with your structure? 
What are the major sections of the book? How are these sections subdivided? Are the 
sections of a different literary style (poetry, biographical or sermonic material)? Be sure 
to defend your assessment of the book’s structure.


Theme of the book (25%)
What is the one central message or theme of the book? How is this theme developed? 
Be sure that you don’t confuse the theme of the book with sub-themes or motifs. Be sure 
to support your assessment of the theme with evidence from the biblical text.

General observations and theological insights (20%)
What are some of the more prominent theological emphases of the book? How are they 
developed? How do these emphases related to other books in the Bible?

Ideas for preaching or teaching & questions for further study (5%)
How would you preach or teach this book? Provide a very brief but specific description 
of an idea for preaching or teaching. Be sure to indicate your intended audience (adult 
congregation, Sunday school, etc). You must also include a list of questions for your 
own further study that emerge from your paper.

Essentials to remember: Grammar, spelling, and style will account for 5% of your grade. Be sure to proof-read your paper carefully before handing it in!


Thematic Paper

In this assignment discuss how the call of Abram in Genesis 12:1-3 is pivotal to Genesis–
2 Kings. Your paper should consist of four sections. In the first section discuss Genesis 
12:1-3 and outline the Lord’s promises to Abram. In the second section discuss how the 
passage relates to the rest of Genesis (both before and after the passage). In the third 
section, discuss how the passage relates to Exodus-Deuteronomy. In the fourth section, 
discuss how the passage relates to Joshua-2 Kings. The primary purpose of this 
assignment is to ensure that you have a grasp on Genesis–2 Kings as a whole. It is to 
your benefit to keep the thematic paper in mind as you go through the course, and 
make notes as you read. As with the inductive studies, you are not permitted to consult 
secondary literature. The paper is to be between eight and ten pages double-spaced.



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