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TM204 Reading and Preaching Biblical Law and Narrative

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This module is taught with slightly different specifications for both Wesley College and WEMTC. For WEMTC students it is an occasional course that may be run for accelerated students. It will be run 2004 Summer Term at Bristol jointly with Wesley College. It will be run therafter on request. The Wesley version is run most years and has less focus on preaching. This module is at level two and not an option for WEMTC Certificate Students except with permission of a Core Staff Member. Wesley students are expected to have core biblical papers as pre-requisites.

Click here for Handouts and preparatory reading

For WEMTC: This module explores and evaluates the different ways First Testament Law and Narrative may be read in order to find meaning suitable for preaching today. On the basis that both Law and Narrative may have had original sermonic settings it then explores how law and narrative formats and methods might influence the form and method of our preaching.

For Wesley: This unit explores the range of meanings of the word 'law' in the OT and the different types of legal material including the Decalogue. Attention is paid to the way in which Christians have appealed to bibliucal law in addressing ethical issues. The main substance of the course will be the study of selected individual biblical narratives and the way in which they relate to one another.



TM204/OT2.2 Reading and Preaching First Testament Law and Narrative

Welcome to the TM204/OT2.2 Law and Narrative web page. This page is designed to provide useful resources for those studying or about to study Law and Narrative with WEMTC or Wesley. If you have found useful resources or have questions you would like ask, please do contribute. As this module is taught for two institutions please take note of those sections that apply to you. The primary difference is that WEMTC has a more preaching emphasis.

What is this Module all about?

One half of this module deals with First Testament Law and examines First Testament Law in its canonical context. Further it explores how law might have functioned and been viewed in Israelite society in the light of other Ancient Near Eastern Law Codes. It considers the implication of having law within our theological framework and discusses how this might be authoritative for Christians today.

The other half of the module explores how First Testament Narrative material works as literature looking at subjects such as plot, character, style and structure.It considers the implication of having narrative within our theological framework and discusses what might be meant by this having authority for Christians today.

The class is taught at a University Level Two and requires TM102.5 Introduction to the First Testament as a prerequisite. Some Wesley Students may take this module at level one but need to have completed an introductory module on the Old Testament. It is studied in a broadly academic environment acknowledging the various methods of modern scholarship but with a view to understanding how this greater knowledge can enhance our own faith and preaching/ bible studies. Click here for:



Useful resources for TM204 Law and Narrative


Books

The following are indicative books for this subject but your tutor will issue you with a class bibliography.: For more detailed bibliographies see our Sample book lists.
Why not tell us of some books you have found useful? If the webmaster agrees we'll list them here.

TM204 Law and Narrative Web Resources

You may find the following web sites helpful when studying Law and Narrative. Material on the net has no quality control making tutors very wary - and rightly so! Nevertheless there is a growing amount of first class academic work on line particularly coming from Religious Studies Departments of good Universities. Treat with care and you'll find it very useful for assignments.

The Internet is not 100% reliable and documents move, disappear and change their names. If you find a link does not work, try again in an hour, a day, or a week. But do feel free to email us to report a link doesn't work. Don't forget to tell us the name of the link!

Introductory Articles General Articles on FT Law

Napier's 'OT Legal Codes'
A general introduction from Religion Online

The Ancient World Works on law and life in the Ancient World

Ancient Near Eastern resources and pictures
Many links to Ancient Near Eastern resources, photos and web sites, see e.g. Ancient documents from Mesopotamian, Hittite and Egyptian cultures or Chronologies of the Ancient Near East
Law in the Ancient Orient
From the detailed Gateways to Babylon site. A good overview of ANE Law plus other information on Babylonian law and life including Hammurabi's law code.
Hammurabi's Law Code
This is available from several sites. You could try: Exploring Ancient World Cultures from the University of Evansville. Or The Avalon Project from Yale Law School which also has the 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica Article available.. You can see a photo at the Louvre (search for Hammurabi)
Mesopotamian Laws c2250-550BCE
Some Mesopotamian laws from Halsall's Ancient History Sourcebook. Worth exploring the rest of the site too.
A Hittite Law Code c. 1650-1500 BCE
The Code of the Nesilim from Halsall's Ancient History Sourcebook. Worth exploring the rest of the site too.
An Assyrian Law Code c. 1075 BCE
The Code of the Assura from Halsall's Ancient History Sourcebook. Worth exploring the rest of the site too.
A Neo-Babylonian Law Code c. 555-427 BCE
Some Neo-Babylonian law codes from Halsall's Ancient History Sourcebook. Worth exploring the rest of the site too.
An Ancient Treaty
See a sample Akkadian/ Hittite Treaty between Mursilis And Duppi-Tessub Of Amurru .

Attitudes to the Law

The Westminster Confession
See Article XIX for a reformed Christian attitude to the law
Philo
The Law of God and the Laws of the Cities in Philo of Alexandria - an analysis

The Torah/Pentateuch
See more generally the bible commentary sites listed below.

Leviticus
'The Sacred and the Mundane: The Message of Leviticus' by Peter J Haas
Torah as Holiness
Torah As Holiness: Old Testament "Law" as Response to Divine Grace by Dennis R. Bratcher
NT endorsement of the Law
New Testament Endorsement For The Old Testament Law by Greg L. Bahnsen, Th.M., Ph.D. (A Theonomist Viewpoint)
On Holiness
'Conversations among Exiles' by W Brueggemann - on holiness then and now

The 10 Commandments

Clines on the Commandments
A pdf file of Clines' article 'The 10 Commandments: Reading from Left to Right' from Interested Parties

Theonomy
Theonomy is the idea that all judicial laws still apply to Christians. There is much web published. Here are some that are for and against this theology

Christian Reconstructionism critiqued
A site by the Religious Tolerance Org critiquing 'reconstructionism' - a view that goes together with and informs theonomy
What is Reconstructionism?
Thibodeau's explanation and critique
Theonomy Online
A New Zealand site seeking to justify theonomy.
Theonomy - A defence
'What is Theonomy?' by Jay Rogers - a key figure

The Law in Judaism Today

Tracy Rich's JewFAQ site
A general information site about Judaism. Se for instance the pages on Torah, Kosher food, Halakhah/Jewish Law, 10 Commandments, Sacrifices, Sabbath
Everything Jewish
A site explaining Judaism with some good comments on the Sabbath

Narrative Criticism
Narrative Criticism is the chief method of study used for narratives in this course

Study Notes on Narrative and on Poetics
Tim Bulkeley's 'Introduction to Narrative and Poetics' study notes including definitions for his class on the narratives of Jonah and Ruth. A good starting point. The poetics page is particularly worth reading. Tim teaches at the Baptist College of NZ and is responsible for the online Postmodern Bible Project.
Probing Scripture
C Newsome's article from Christian Century on literary approaches to interpreting the bible.
Narrative Criticism and the Hebrew Scriptures
J Christopher Heard's conservative critique of Narrative Criticisms from Restoration Quarterly.
Reader Response Theory
A brief outline of Reader Response Criticism by B McManus of College of New Rochelle.
Narrative Criticism defined and explored
A brief outline of Narrative Criticism from C. Murphy Santa-Clara University.
Sternberg's Poetics of Biblical Narrative
A useful Book Review of Meir Sternberg's The Poetics of Biblical Narrative

Specific Biblical Narratives
See more generally the bible commentary sites listed below.

Using Narratives in Ministry

Preaching OT Narrative
An article by Holbert of Perkins School of Theology.

Narrative Theology

Narrative Theology and the Dogmatic Use of the Bible
An article by M Wisse Utrecht University. A comment on the strengths of Narrative Theology.

Gateways to First Testament sites (Sites of links for your own searching)

Old Testament Gateway
Set up by Australians Roy and Sue Nicholson to mirror Mark Goodacre's New Testament Gateway it looks set to be an excellent starting point for all FT studies.
iTanakh
Another excellent Gateway to academic sites relating to the Hebrew Bible for undergraduate to doctoral level by C Heard of Pepperdine University.
Rutger's Virtual Religion Index
Links to all matters relating to the First Testament most of a good academic standard. See also their Bible Page
Torrey Seland, Norway
Lots of good links to English material of reasonable quality from a Professor at Volda University Norway.

Online Bibles and Commentaries (usually older versions of Bibles and Commentaries out of copyright but there is some web specific material)

Crosswire's Bible Tool
Crosswire together with the American Bible Society and SBL has set up this online Bible resource which has innumerable foreign language versions as well as the classic English texts including all Bible Society texts
CCEL Worldwide Study Bible
Gives links to bible versions and commentaries (again usually older and copyright free)for each book and chapter of the bible
Crosswalk's Bible Study Tools
Similar to the above, you can see various bibles, commentaries, concordances, dictionaries but also includes Hebrew and Greek.
Internet Christian Library
Articles and links to online bibles, commentaries, bible study materials and other christian books.
Bible.org's commentaries and articles
Contains a growing set of online commentaries on the OT books by a variety of authors. Fairly conservative but engaging with academic subjects and the major scholars. Look around the home page for other useful articles.

Introductions to Literary Criticism of the First Testament

Historical and Newer Criticism Explained
An easy to follow explanation of the different types of historical criticisms - source, form, redaction and more recent literary and post-modern criticisms from Goshen University. Less detailed than the explanations from Santa Clara below.
Another Explanation of the Biblical Criticisms
Another fairly easy to follow explanation of the different types of historical literary and post-modern criticisms from Santa Clara University. More detailed than the explanations at Goshen University above.
The Documentary Hypothesis EJDP
An easy to follow explanation of the Documentary Hypothesis and the differences between EJD and P. Not a literary criticism but nevertheless understanding the basics of historical criticism is a necessity to embarking on literary criticism.

Online Biblical Journals Bible Studies Journals that appear online

BSW Journal
A site aimed at encouraging biblical studies journals to go online. It gives links to those that are online such as Biblica and American Journal of Biblical Theology. Also has links to commentaries and other bible study tools.

Bibliographic Resources

The Pittsburg Bibliography
A useful bibliography on biblical law from BJ Hibbitts of the University of Pittsburg School of Law
Philo
The Law of God and the Laws of the Cities in Philo of Alexandria - an analysis
University of Toronto
A useful bibliography from the University of Toronto on Hebrew Narrative - scroll down for best resources
Vanderbilt English Department
Bibliography on studying the bible as literature
Jonah
Bible Org's bibliography on Jonah

See also our General First Testament Links
And there are always the General Religion Links as a starting point.

Why not tell us of some sites you have found useful? If the webmaster agrees we'll list them here.



OT2.2 Law and Narrative at Wesley College

This module is taught for Wesley by Elizabeth Harper

Documents for this module online include:


TM204 Law and Narrative at WEMTC

This module is taught at WEMTC by Elizabeth Harper
Click here for the bristol timetable and exact dates for this year.

Documents for this module online include:


The Student Spot

This spot is for contributions from those who are doing or have done TM204 It needs your contributions - books that have been helpful, questions you would like answered, adverts for things related to the module etc. Content is monitored by the webmaster with reference to the tutors and class reps if necessary. Click here to submit something for the page.

Go ahead - be the first to submit something


Module Description for Wesley's OT2.2

Please note this description is now rather old and should soon be updated. The core bibliography has particularly been replaced by those books listed above.

Code and title

OT2.2 Law and Narrative in the Old Testament

Unit Director

Ms Elizabeth Harper

Credit Points

10

Prerequisites

It is desirable but not essential that students should have completed the level one unit on Introduction to the Bible or an equivalent.

Rationale for and Description of this Unit

This unit is part of a group of units which explore the majore areas of the Old Testament from which students must choose at least one at levels one or two.

Unit Content

We explore the range of meanings of the word 'law' in the Old Testament. We examine the ways in which 'law' relates to other 'law-like' materials such as the injunctions of wisdom writers. We analyse the different types of legal material in the Old Testament and consider the ways in which the different types are likely to have functioned. The Decalogue is considered as a particular and especially important example of a biblical law code. We then look at selected ethical issues and the material bearing on them. Throughout the course attention is paid to the way in which, historically, Christians have appealed to biblical law in addressing ethical issues and we raise the question of how we may do so still.

The part played by narrative in determining the structure of the Canon as a whole is registered. The course moves on to catalogue the diversity of kinds of individual narratives and the implications of diversity for our approach to their interpretation. The contribution of form criticism and the study of tradition history are noted. The main substance of the course is the study of selected individual biblical narratives including narratives apparently complete in themselves (such as the books of Ruth and Jonah) and narratives which are episodes in larger wholes. Particular attention is paid to the way in which biblical narratives relate to each other and to the occurances of allusions, echoes and shared themes, structures and images.

Key Reading and References


Statement of Unit Objectives

By the end of this half-module students should:
  1. To examine OT law in its historical and its canonical context and to explore how law functioned in the social life of the communities which produced it
  2. To consider how biblical law has been made use of by Christians in the past and to ask in what respects biblical laws might be regarded as authroitative for Christians today
  3. To examine the ways in which biblical narratives relate to each other and combine to make up the larger structures of canon.
  4. To explore the range of methods by which biblical narratives can be interpreted and understood.

Statement of learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will be more aware of the complexity of the issues involved in interpreting and re-interpreting biblical injunctions in social and historical contexts other than the ones in whichh they are generated. They will have a better appreciation of the richness and multifaceted nature of biblical narrative of story material as a medium for the articulation of theology and be better able to expound the biblical narratives and make use of them in preaching and teaching. They should be able to analyse the material in the light of modern biblical scholarship and support their own critical judgements

Methods of teaching and number of contact hours

Lectures (50%), comment on texts and discussion of interpretation (50%)
20 hours contact time.

Methods of Assessment

Assessment will be by way of written assignment(s) of a total of 3000 words

Criteria for the award of Credit Points

Satisfactory attendance at all classes (normally 100%) Submission of all required work in time to the specified length and indicating a clear attempt to obtain a pass mark.

Summary Description of the Unit

This unit explores the range of meanings of the word 'law' in the OT and the different types of legal material including the Decalogue. Attention is paid to the way in which Christians have appealed to bibliucal law in addressing ethical issues. The main substance of the course will be the study of selected individual biblical narratives and the way in which they relate to one another.

Module Description for WEMTC's TM204


Code and title

TM204 Reading and Preaching First Testament Law and Narrative

Tutor

Elizabeth Harper

Brief description

This module explores and evaluates the different ways First Testament Law and Narrative may be read in order to find meaning suitable for preaching today. On the basis that both Law and Narrative may have had original sermonic settings it then explores how law and narrative formats and methods might influence the form and method of our preaching.

Level and Credits

Level II       15 credits

Status

Optional

Type

Standard

Prerequisites

TM102.5 Introduction to the First Testament

Recommended prior study*

TM218.5 First Testament Texts: Isaiah

Restrictions*

Open to all Students who are working at level Two

Content summary

This course will cover:

Learning outcomes

By the end of this half-module students should:
  1. Knowledge and Understanding
  2. Skills

Teaching and learning

120 hours
       20 hours class contact
       100 hours personal study (reading, assignments, class preparation)

Assessment

Two assignments of 2000 words or equivalent which for ministerial students will include at least one 10 minute sermon with explanation. (50% each)

Indicative resources


Resources Addition Form

Unfortunately we have had to disable the online contribution form as it has been targeted by spammers who have filled the mail box with contributions mainly to do with online gambling. We still want your contribution so please send a separate email to us (webmaster @ the wemtc address) with your request giving the details set out below. All longer contributions should be scanned for viruses and emailed as an attachment in rtf format. Don't forget to tell us what Module this is a contribution to!

Contribution to the TM204 Page

Unfortunately we have had to disable the online contribution form as it has been targeted by spammers who have filled the mail box with contributions mainly to do with online gambling. We still want your contribution so please send a separate email to us (webmaster @ the wemtc address) with your request giving the details set out below. All longer contributions should be scanned for viruses and emailed as an attachment in rtf format. Don't forget to tell us what Module this is a contribution to!


Resources Last updated: 23 November 2006 at 9:50am Copyright 2008 E. Harper and W. McDougall
To contact WEMTC see the new WEMTC website
To contact Elizabeth Harper see Elizabeth Harper's website


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