Undergraduate Course: The Dark Lord: Sex, Crime and Violence in the Hebrew Bible (BIST10052)
|School||School of Divinity
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||There are several texts in the Hebrew Bible that trouble the understandings of God and challenge the modern exegete. This God attacks his chosen ones from behind, he demands child sacrifice and genocide, and he lets rape go unpunished - or worse, he himself punishes his wife by exposing her to sexual violence. So, how can we conceive of a God who is macho, cruel, ruthless, and even indulges in ethnic cleansing?
- Academic description
The Hebrew Bible contains a great number of texts that trouble the conventional Jewish and Christian understandings of God and challenge the reader of the Hebrew Bible. This course aims to integrate these seemingly incongruous texts in the understanding of the Hebrew Bible, where they are neglected frequently in favour of the idea of a loving and faithful God. A historical critical reading helps to understand the texts as theological expressions in their time and integrates them into an image of God that is not always comprehensive and comfortable.
Due to the nature of the course, there will be some sexually explicit material and the seminars will deal with several adult themes.
- Syllabus/outline content
Each week will focus on a set primary text accompanied by one or more secondary readings. The session in week 1 will provide an introductory session, while the last session will consist of a debate that summarises the course content. The set texts will be arranged starting from texts about violence/sex/crime on an inter-personal level (e.g. Gen 4; Gen 19; Judg 19) leading to texts that speak of God as initiator of violence or at least present him as accepting violence (Gen 22; Gen 6.9; Deut 7, 20). The texts will cover a wide range of writings in the Hebrew Bible to present a broad picture.
- Student Learning Experience
The course will be taught through a combination of close textual readings and group discussions that will draw on the weekly reading. There will be an input lecture where applicable, and the close reading follows a certain set of methods developed for historical-critical reading in level 8/10-courses ('How to Analyse a Text'). There will be interactive elements to the seminar sessions, and each student will be required to prepare the reading for a particular week for a student-led discussion.
Through participation in seminar discussions, as well as through the written work and the examination included in the assessment schedule, students will demonstrate their achievement of the intended learning outcomes.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22,
Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Revision Session Hours 1,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||10% class participation«br /»
30% essay«br /»
||Formative assessment consists of a draft of the course essay's outline and argument (no more than 500 words). The students will get written feedback on this by email.
Class participation (10%): Each week, students will be assigned articles to prepare for discussion in class (marked with a *). They are supposed to summarise the article and come up with questions to initiate class discussion. Furthermore, overall class preparedness and participation in the seminar and group work counts towards an overall participation mark. At the end of the course, the students will be notified of their class participation mark by email and they can comment on the mark in exchange.
The mid-term essay (30 %) will test research skills, written presentation skills, demonstrate independent thought and argument. The word limit is 2000 words. The students can choose from a range of topics and texts that relate to the course content.
The exam (60%) will test written presentation skills under pressure and demonstrate time management.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S1 (December)||2:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- After successful completion of this course, the student will have a broad overview of key texts in the Hebrew Bible that deal with violence.
- After successful completion of this course, the student will have a familiarity with the question of a violent God from an exegetical point of view.
- After successful completion of this course, the student should be able to discuss the occurrence of violence in the Hebrew Bible and assess critically the implications for the conception of God.
- After successful completion of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate an ability to identify key terms and their meanings.
- After successful completion of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate good judgement about how to assess the relative importance of items on course bibliographies.
CRENSHAW, J.L., A Whirlpool of Torment: Israelite Traditions of God as an Oppres-sive Presence. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.
CRENSHAW, J.L., Defending God: Biblical Responses to the Problem of Evil. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
GERTZ, J.C., T&T Clark Handbook of the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Liter-ature, Religion and History of the Old Testament, London: T&T Clark, 2012
HARRIS, S.L., Understanding the Bible, Boston: McGraw Hill, 72007.
RÖMER, T., Dark God: Cruelty, Sex, and Violence in the Old Testament, New York: Paulist Press, 2013 (French 2009).
SCHOLZ, S., Introducing the Women¿s Hebrew Bible. London: T&T Clark, 2007.
TRIBLE, P., Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives, London: SCM Press, 1992.
BACH, A., Women in the Hebrew Bible: A Reader, New York: Routledge, 1999.
BADER, M.A., Sexual Violation in the Hebrew Bible: A Multi-Methodological Study of Genesis 34 and 2 Samuel 13. SBL 87. New York: Peter Land, 2006.
BAUMANN, G., Love and Violence: Marriage as Metaphor for the Relationship be-tween YHWH and Israel in the Prophetic Books. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2003.
BECHTEL, LYN M., ¿A Feminist Reading of Genesis 19.1¿11,¿ in Genesis: A Feminist Compendium to the Bible (ed. A. Brenner. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press), 108¿128.
BLYTH, C., The Narrative of Rape in Genesis 34. Interpreting Dinah¿s Silence. Oxford: OuP, 2010.
BOEHM, O., ¿Child sacrifice, ethical responsibility and the existence of the people of Israel¿, VT 54 (2004), 145¿156.
BRENNER, A., ¿¿On the Rivers of Babylon¿ (Psalm 137), or Between Victim and Perpe-trator,¿ in Sanctified Aggression: Legacies of Biblical and Post Biblical Vocabu-laries of Violence. Edited by J. Bekkenkamp and Y. Sherwood. JSOT.S. 400. Lon-don: T&T Clark, 2003. 76¿91.
CARROLL, R.P., ¿Desire Under the Terebinths: On Pornographic Representation in the Prophets ¿ A Response,¿ in A Feminist Companion to the Latter Prophets (ed. A. Brenner. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press), 275¿307.
CARDEN, M., ¿Homophobia and Rape in Sodom and Gibeah: A Response to Ken Stone,¿ JSOT 82, 83¿96.
DAY, P., ¿Yahweh¿s Broken Marriages as Metaphoric Vehicle in the Hebrew Bible Prophets,¿ in Sacred Marriages: The Divine-Human Sexual Metaphor from Su-mer to Early Christianity (ed. M. Nissinen and R. Uro). Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake, 2008, 219¿241.
V. DIJK-HEMMES, F., ¿The Metaphorization of Woman in Prophetic Speech: An Anal-ysis of Ezekiel XXIII,¿ VT 43 (1993), 162¿170.
DOBBS-ALLSOPP, F.W., Weep, O Daughter of Zion: A Study of the City-Lament Genre in the Hebrew Bible. BibOr 44. Rom: Pontifico Instituto Biblico, 1993.
DOBBS-ALLSOPP, F.W., ¿Tragedy, Tradition and Theology in the Book of Lamenta-tions,¿ JSOT 74 (1997), 29¿60.
FUCHS, E., Sexual Politic in the Biblical Narratives: Reading the Hebrew Bible as a Woman. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000
FRYMER-Kensky, T., ¿Virginity in the Bible,¿ in Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (ed. V.H. Matthews, B.M. Levinson and T. Frymer-Kensky. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press), 79¿96.
GALAMBUSH, J., Jerusalem in the Book of Ezekiel. The City as Yahweh¿s Wife. SBL.DS 130, Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992.
GNUSE, R., ¿Abdicted Wives: A Hellenistic Narrative in Judges 21?,¿ SJOT 22 (2007): 228¿240.
HARLAND, P.J., The Value of Human Life: A Study of the Story of the Flood (Gen 6¿9). VT.S. 66. Leiden: Brill, 1996.
HEMMER DE GUDME, A. K., ¿Sex, Violence and State Formation in Judges 19¿21,¿ in The Bible and Hellenism: Greek Influence on Jewish and Early Christian Litera-ture. Ed. by P. Wajdenbaum and T. Thompson. Acumen Publishing Ltd, 2014, 165-174.
MATTHEWS, V.H., ¿Honor and Shame in Gender-Related Legal Situations in the He-brew Bible,¿ in Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East (ed. V.H. Matthews, B.M. Levinson and T. Frymer-Kensky. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press), 97¿112.
MOBERLY, R.W.L., ¿On Interpreting the Mind of God: The Theological Significance of the Flood Narrative (Genesis 6¿9),¿ in The Word Leaps The Gap (ed. J. Ross Wa-ger, C. Kavin Rowe, and A. Katherine Grieb. Grand Rapids, MA: Eerdmans, 2008), 44¿66.
MOBERLY, R.W.L., The Theology of the Book of Genesis. Old Testament Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
MÜLLNER, I., ¿Lethal Differences: Sexual Violence as Violence against Others in Judges 29,¿ in Judges: A Feminist Compendium to the Bible. Second Series (ed. A. Brenner. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), 126¿142.
NIELSEN, K., ¿The Violent God of the Old Testament: Reading Strategies and Respon-sibility,¿ in Encountering Violence in the Bible (ed. M. Zehnder and H. Hagelia. The Bible in the Modern World 55. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013), 207¿215.
PERDUE, L. et al., Families in Ancient Israel (The Family, Religion, and Culture. Louis-ville: Westminster John Knox, 1997).
SCHOLZ, S., ¿Through Whose eyes? A ¿Right¿ Reading of Genesis 34,¿ in Genesis: A Feminist Companion to the Bible. Second Series (ed. A. Brenner. Sheffield: Shef-field Academic Press, 1998), 150¿171.
SCHOLZ, S., Rape Plots: A Feminist Cultural Study of Genesis 34. New York: Peter Lang, 2002.
SCHOLZ, S., Sacred Witness: Rape in the Hebrew Bible. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010.
SCHWARZ, R.M., ¿Adultery in the House of David: The Metanarrative of Biblical Schol-arship and the Narratives of the Bible,¿ in Women in the Hebrew Bible: A Reader (ed. A. Bach. New York: Routledge, 1999), 335¿350.
SEIBERT, E., Disturbing Divine Behaviour: Troubling Old Testament Images of God, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009 (Part 2 as Introduction, Christian approach ¿).
STONE, K., ¿Gender and Homosexuality in Judges 19: Subject-Honor, Object-Shame?¿ JSOT 67 (1995), 87¿107.
TRIBLE, P., ¿Genesis 22: The Sacrifice of Sarah,¿ in Women in the Hebrew Bible (ed. A. Bach. New York: Routledge, 1999), 271¿290.
REIS, P.T., ¿The Levite¿s Concubine: New Light on a Dark Story,¿ SJOT 20 (2006), 125¿146.
ZEHNDER, M., ¿The Annihilation of the Canaanites: Reassessing the Brutality of the Biblical Witnesses,¿ in Encountering Violence in the Bible (ed. M. Zehnder and H. Hagelia. The Bible in the Modern World 55. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013), 263¿290.
ZEHNDER, M. / HALLVARD, H. (Ed.), Encountering Violence in the Bible (The Bible in the Modern World 55. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013).
ZENGER, ERICH, A God of Vengeance? Understanding the Psalms of Divine Wrath. Translated by L. Maloney. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||The students will develop a critical approach to the Hebrew Bible texts and will be able to transfer these skills on related topics in later work and life. Furthermore, the involvement with gender and violence sensitive texts will challenge their ethical judgement and lead them to become independent and critical thinkers.
|Keywords||Hebrew Bible,Sex,Crime,Violence,Historical-Critical Exegesis
|Course organiser||Dr Anja Klein
Tel: (0131 6)50 8960
|Course secretary||Ms Katrina Munro
Tel: (0131 6)50 8900