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Rel

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									Rel. 673                                                                     Fall 2005
Carolyn J. Sharp                                                  T, Th 9:00 - 10:20 a.m.

office:   S123
phone:    432-2011
e-mail:   carolyn.sharp@yale.edu


           HEBREW EXEGESIS: THE BOOK OF GENESIS
This exegetically-focused course will explore literary and theological issues presented
by the Book of Genesis. We will seek to deepen our understanding of the foundational
traditions in Genesis concerning the creation of the world and humankind, the calling
and formation of the people of Israel, the promises and obligations binding God and
people, issues of identity formation concerning insiders and outsiders, and the complex
socio-political dynamics obtaining between (representations of) Israel and Egypt.
Attention will be paid to lexical, grammatical, and syntactical features of the Hebrew text
in service of our exegetical efforts. A systematic review of Hebrew grammar will not be
the focus of this course. We will subordinate our consideration of grammar and syntax
to the larger interpretive issues involved in appreciating the literary artistry and
theological themes of the Book of Genesis.

Objectives of the course are:

      to deepen students’ understanding of the Book of Genesis and the complex
       interpretive challenges it presents;

      to foster students’ development of increasingly sophisticated exegetical skills
       through attentive reading of Biblical passages, critical engagement of literary,
       theological, and hermeneutical issues raised by the material, and thoughtful
       assessment of relevant secondary literature;

      to improve students’ mastery of Biblical Hebrew prose through inductive
       consideration of grammatical and syntactical features of the Hebrew text as may
       be helpful for the larger interpretive endeavor.


Evaluative Measures

Each student’s course grade will be based on the following:

       1) an exegetical paper (8-10 pages) on a Genesis passage of the student’s
       choice, due Tuesday, October 25 at the beginning of class (25% of the grade);

       2) a term paper (12-15 pages) on an interpretive issue in Genesis of the
       student’s choice, due Thursday, December 15 at noon in the basket outside my
                                                                                       2


       office (55% of the grade). The paper must engage critically Westermann’s
       commentary and at least two articles or books by other authors.

                    “Engage critically” here means to evaluate the strengths and
                     weaknesses of the authors’ positions in significant detail and to
                     reflect explicitly on how the authors’ points are relevant to your
                     argument. Referring briefly once or twice to an author does not
                     constitute adequate critical engagement.

                    If your paper is shorter than 12 full pages, it will not be eligible for a
                     grade in the Honors category.

       3) regular class participation (20% of the grade). The category of class
       participation includes:

              * conscientious preparation of Biblical and secondary material;
              * engagement in class discussions;
              * completion of regular ungraded Hebrew quizzes;
              * student-team leading of class discussion on Westermann reading;
              * preparation of a 350- to 450-word abstract for the term paper, copies to
                     be given to the professor and classmates on the last day of class.


Attendance policy: Each student may have two absences from class with no resulting
consequences. Please notify me in advance, if possible. If you are absent on a day on
which your team is scheduled to lead discussion on Westermann, that will count as two
absences. You need not explain or defend the reason for your absence; I trust that adult
learners balance responsibly their academic obligations, health concerns, and other life
priorities. Any absences beyond two will result in your class participation grade being
lowered significantly. Chronic lateness may eventually be counted as an absence, at my
discretion. This policy simply reflects the fact that your absence affects the learning and
ethos of the entire group. Your presence and commitment to our common learning are
valued.

Policy on late work: There is no grade penalty of any kind for late work, but any written
work turned in after the specified due date will receive no feedback from me other than
its grade.

All written work submitted by you must be your own. If you cite, paraphrase, or in any
other way rely on ideas, distinctive phrases, or argumentation from another source, that
source must be properly acknowledged. For more information, consult the appendix on
plagiarism at the end of this syllabus.

Papers are to be typewritten in a 12-point font, double-spaced, paginated, with margins
between 1” and 1 1/4” on all sides. If the paper has notes, they should be footnotes
(single-spaced at the bottom of the relevant page) rather than endnotes. Block
                                                                                     3


quotations and footnotes should be single-spaced. A separate bibliography is not
necessary if full initial citations of works are provided in the notes. If you are unsure as
to proper footnote style, consult The SBL Handbook of Style (Hendrickson, 1999),
available in the Divinity Library, or another accepted authority such as The Chicago
Manual of Style.

I am pleased to provide written comments on drafts of term papers given to me by class
time on Thursday, December 1. Considering feedback about a paper’s strengths and
weaknesses enables the student to improve logic and argumentation, refine written
expression, and otherwise strengthen the paper before it receives a grade.


Required Books

        We will use the Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia in every class. The below book by
Robert Alter is required. In addition, we will be working through Claus Westermann’s
classic three-volume commentary on Genesis, with students reporting on Westermann
regularly in small groups. Purchase of the Westermann volumes is not required, mainly
because the cost would be prohibitive. But students planning to build a commentary
library and/or to pursue doctoral studies in Old Testament would be well advised to
purchase them.
        The Alter and Westermann books will be on Reserve in the Divinity Library,
should you prefer to consult them there rather than purchase them.

       Required:Alter, Robert. Genesis: Translation and Commentary. New York:
       Norton, 1997.

       Recommended:
       Westermann, Claus. Genesis 1-11. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, repr. 1994.
       ––––––––––. Genesis 12-36. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, repr. 1995.
       ––––––––––. Genesis 37-50. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986.


------------------------- Schedule of Class Sessions and Readings -------------------------

       It is essential that the student fully prepare the Genesis text designated for each
class session beforehand. Readiness to translate and to parse grammatical forms
(preferably without reference to notes) will be expected. Secondary readings are to be
completed before the meeting of the class session under which they are listed.

      When leading discussion on the Westermann reading, each student team should
be prepared to engage the following or similar questions with classmates:

       * What are the strengths of Westermann’s arguments? What is compelling or
            imaginative or original about his work?
                                                                             4


     * On which points is Westermann’s work weakest, methodologically or
           conceptually? What questions remain unanswered for you after you’ve
           read the material?

     * How is the Westermann reading useful (or not) for helping us to understand the
          Biblical text?


September 1       Introduction; purposes of the course

September 6              Gen 1:1-2:4a    Quiz # 1

     Be prepared to discuss:

           the Hebrew text
           Alter, pp. ix-l and 3-7


September 8              Gen 1:1-2:4a continued

     Be prepared to discuss:

           the Hebrew text
           Westermann, Genesis 1-11, pp. 78-177 [Team A]


September 13             Gen 2:4b – 3:24    Quiz #2

     Be prepared to discuss:

           the Hebrew text
           Alter, pp. 8-15


September 15             Gen 2:4b – 3:24 continued

     Be prepared to discuss:

           the Hebrew text
           Westermann, Genesis 1-11, pp. 183-278 [Team B]


September 20             Gen 4:1-16     Quiz #3

     Be prepared to discuss:
                                                                        5


            the Hebrew text
            Alter, pp. 16-18
            Westermann, Genesis 1-11, pp. 282-320 [Team C]


September 22            Gen 6:1-22

     Be prepared to discuss:

            the Hebrew text
            Alter, pp. 26-29
            Westermann, Genesis 1-11, pp. 365-83, 390-425 [Team A]


September 27            Gen 9:1-17    Quiz #4

     Be prepared to discuss:

            the Hebrew text
            Alter, pp. 38-40
            Westermann, Genesis 1-11, pp. 460-80 [Team B]


September 29            Gen 11:1-9

     Be prepared to discuss:

            the Hebrew text
            Alter, pp. 46-47
            Westermann, Genesis 1-11, pp. 533-57 [Team C]


October 4               Gen 12:1-20    Quiz #5

     Be prepared to discuss:

            the Hebrew text
            Alter, pp. 50-53
            Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 105-13, 123-30, 144-68 [Team A]


October 6               Gen 15:1-19

     Be prepared to discuss:

            the Hebrew text
                                                                6


             Alter, pp. 63-66
             Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 213-31 [Team B]

_____________________________________________________________________

October 11 & 13       no class: Reading Week
_____________________________________________________________________


October 18                 Gen 17:1-27

      Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Alter, pp. 72-6
             Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 254-71 [Team C]


October 20                 Gen 18:1-33    Quiz #6

      Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Alter, pp. 77-83


October 25                 Gen 18:1-33 continued

Your exegetical paper is due at the beginning of class today.

      Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 273-93 [Team A]


October 27                 Gen 21:1-21

      Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Alter, pp. 97-101
             Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 331-44 [Team B]


November 1                 Gen 22:1-14
                                                              7



     Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Alter, pp. 103-7
             Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 353-65 [Team C]


November 3                Gen 27:1-46    Quiz #7

     Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Alter, pp. 137-45


November 8                Gen 27:1-46 continued

     Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 434-44 [Team A]


November 10               Gen 32:23-33

     Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Alter, pp. 180-3
             Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 513-21 [Team B]


November 15               Gen 34:1-31    Quiz #8

     Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
             Alter, pp. 189-94


November 17               Gen 34:1-31 continued

     Be prepared to discuss:

             the Hebrew text
                                                                                  8

              Westermann, Genesis 12-36, pp. 534-45 [Team C]

_____________________________________________________________________

November 22 & 24            no class: Thanksgiving Recess

_____________________________________________________________________


November 29                 Gen 38:1-26

       Be prepared to discuss:

              the Hebrew text
              Alter, pp. 217-23
              Westermann, Genesis 37-50, pp. 18-30, 48-57


December 1                  Gen 45:1-28

Drafts of term papers are due at class time today, for those who choose to submit them.

       Be prepared to discuss:

              the Hebrew text
              Alter, pp. 266-72
              Westermann, Genesis 37-50, pp. 141-49


December 6                  Gen 50:1-26

       Be prepared to discuss:

              the Hebrew text
              Alter, pp. 302-6
              Westermann, Genesis 37-50, pp. 196-214, 245-53

Your term paper is due on Thursday, December 15 at noon in the basket outside my
office. You may mail a hard copy of your paper to me, if you prefer; it will be considered
on time if the postmark reads December 15 or earlier. I do not accept papers over e-
mail.
                                                                                     9


      Inadequate Acknowledgement of Secondary
                      Sources

                                    (Plagiarism)
Written assignments at Yale Divinity School often require consultation of and critical
reflection on secondary sources. Secondary sources include books, articles, reviews,
web sites, published or orally delivered sermons, poems, and any other written, oral, or
electronically mediated communication. Failure adequately to acknowledge secondary
sources in a written assignment is a matter that, per YDS policy, must be forwarded to
the Professional Studies Committee for review. Depending on the disposition of the
matter by the Committee, consequences for the student can include a mandate to
rewrite the flawed paper or to write a new paper unrelated to the flawed paper; the
recording of an F on the student’s transcript for the class; or expulsion from YDS.

Per YDS policy, a student’s stated lack of intent to plagiarize cannot be considered
material to a case under investigation. It is therefore in students’ best interest to inform
themselves fully about the kinds of plagiarism that exist so that they may avoid those
errors in their written work. Toward that end, I supply the clarifications of plagiarism
below. These are intended for your instruction only and are not to be taken as an
exhaustive or definitive list.


                                 Kinds of Plagiarism

1. Wholesale failure to acknowledge a source. If you use information,
an idea, a line of argument, or a distinctive turn of phrase without noting explicitly the
source in which you found the material, you will have plagiarized. Very well known
information, such as the fact that Amos may have prophesied in the 8th century B.C.E.
or that the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 587, need not be footnoted or otherwise
acknowledged. If you are unsure whether you need to acknowledge a source, do
acknowledge it. It is always better to err on the side of caution. For our purposes here,
my lectures and our class discussions as such do not need to be footnoted, but if a
classmate offers a particularly effective or unique formulation in discussion that you then
use in a paper, it would be desirable, although not required, to credit that classmate
appropriately.


2. Failure to indicate a verbatim quotation. The verbatim (word-for-word)
quotation of secondary material in your written work must be indicated in every instance
by the use of quotation marks. If you do not use quotation marks, the reader will take
the material as your own words, and you will have plagiarized. This is the case even if
you supply a footnote at the end of the verbatim material or attribute the material in a
general way to the source in question. If material is used verbatim, it must always be
marked by quotation marks. Note that for lengthy quotations block-indented in single-
                                                                                10


spaced format, the block indentation stylistically takes the place of quotation marks as
such, so quotation marks would not be needed in that kind of situation.


3. Failure to indicate more general dependence on a secondary
source. If you use an idea from another source without acknowledgement, or follow
another writer’s line of argument without acknowledgement, you will have plagiarized,
even if you paraphrase the idea or sequence of ideas rather than rendering the material
verbatim.


Illustrations of the above kinds of plagiarism will draw on the following excerpt from
J. Gerald Janzen, Exodus (Westminster Bible Companion; Louisville: Westminster John
Knox, 1997), p. 78:

      If, as Whitehead says, “we are never very free,” we do usually have a margin of
      freedom within which we can reflect on our situation, with all its constraints, and
      respond to it in ways that promise to make our continued life possible and
      perhaps even better. But from time to time we wonder whether we have enough
      freedom to enable us to get out of the dead-end streets our exercise of freedom
      has gotten us into. If human freedom arises in what we call our will and finds its
      direction in what we call our imagination, the question is, Do we have the
      imagination to modify a social arrangement or course of action that our
      imagination once devised for what seemed good reasons but that now threatens
      to become a straitjacket on ourselves or others? In the biblical view, such
      freedom, such imagination, is the gift of God who, according to the word at the
      burning bush, is most deeply named in the words, “I will be who I will be.” As I
      suggested earlier, such a name implies at least this much: However much we
      have known God in terms of our past typical experiences, needs, practices, and
      patterns of life, God is not limited to this past but remains free to respond to
      whatever new circumstances may arise in God’s creation.


---------------------------------------------------------------

Example #1: a student’s wholesale failure to acknowledge a source.

In considering the terrifying judgment oracles of the book of Amos, and especially the
absence of promise material except for that brief bit at the end of Amos 9, it seems that
Amos would argue against free will. Repentance no longer seems possible for the
people of Israel. They no longer have enough freedom to enable them to get out of the
dead-end street that their sinning has gotten them into. In the biblical view, freedom is
the gift of the God who appeared to Moses at the burning bush, but according to Amos,
the Israelites have consistently used this freedom only in order to sin, so they are now
faced with utter destruction.
                                                                                  11



---------------------------------------------------------------

Example #2: a student’s failure to indicate a verbatim quotation.

Even if Ezekiel does stress personal rather than corporate and generational
responsibility for sin in Ezekiel 18, still, as Janzen suggests, from time to time we
wonder whether we have enough freedom to enable us to get out of the dead-end
streets our exercise of freedom has gotten us into. Even if we are free theoretically, in
practical terms we continually reforge our chains of slavery to sin. But thanks be to God
that God is not limited in the way that we are. However much we have known God in
terms of our past typical experiences, needs, practices, and patterns of life, God is not
limited to this past but remains free to respond to whatever new circumstances may
arise in God’s creation.1
1
    J. Gerald Janzen, Exodus (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1997), 78.

Note that in the above example, even though Janzen is mentioned in the body of the
student’s essay and the student has supplied a footnote, the student’s paragraph is still
plagiaristic. The absence of quotation marks leaves the impression that the passages
taken verbatim from Janzen are in fact the student’s own words, which is not the case.


---------------------------------------------------------------

Example #3: a student’s failure to indicate more general dependence on a source.

The Garden of Eden story raises some difficult and compelling questions regarding the
whole theological problem of free will versus determinism. Alfred North Whitehead has
suggested that humans are never very free, in real terms. But do the prophets not
proclaim that we have a certain kind of freedom in that we can reflect on our life, repent,
and try to improve it? We may have enough freedom to do that, to try to lift ourselves up
by our bootstraps and get out of the traps of sin that we set for ourselves. But
imagination is also needed, the imagination to see new ways of living as Christians. We
may be bound as if in a straitjacket to choices we once made, thinking they were good
ideas at the time, and lack the spiritual imagination to see how we might be
transformed, how we might walk a new path in a new situation.

Note that although the above essay is written in the student’s own words, the general
line of argument, from Whitehead to free will to the roles of reflection and imagination to
the image of straitjacket, is followed by the student without acknowledgement of the
source. This too is plagiaristic.

								
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