Old Testament

Course No. 653
Professor Amy-Jill Levine, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University
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Course No. 653
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Take an in-depth look at stories in the Book of Genesis, including Adam and Eve, the flood, and Abraham.
  • numbers Look at the influence and impact of folklore on the stories of the Bible - and vice-versa.
  • numbers Grasp the origin, meaning, implementation, and interpretation of laws and warnings laid out in the Old Testament.

Course Overview

The Old Testament, or Tanakh, was written in ancient Israel over 1,000 years by many authors. What can this book teach us about the ancient Israelites? What does our faith find in new scholarly understanding? As scripture or as the most influential piece of literature ever written, this book is a source of constant wonder, inspiration, and intrigue.

It is cited on the floor of the Senate and from the bench in the courtroom. Contemporary politics is inextricably intertwined with it, from conflict in the Middle East to the claim by many in the United States that a return to "biblical values"is warranted.

The Bible influenced the Pilgrims to leave England in the 17th century; it inspired the founders of the new republic in the 18th; it roused both slave and abolitionist to seek a new Moses and sponsor a new Exodus in the 19th and the Jews to establish a homeland in the 20th.

It has meant more to more people than any other book in history. The influence of ancient Israel's religious and national literature is evident in everything from medieval mystery plays to modern novels, art, music, theater, film, and dance.

As Professor Amy-Jill Levine observes: "The Old Testament is endlessly fascinating because it offers everything to explore: myth, saga, and history; tragedy, comedy, and farce; economics and politics; literature and poetry of surpassing beauty; court intrigue and prophetic morality; heavenly miracles and sometimes heavenly silence; questions of theodicy; answers that satisfy and answers that may not; destruction and rebuilding; despair and hope."

Lively and Learned Commentary on the Old Testament

Professor Levine's commentary thoughtfully explores selected passages from the texts called the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, and the Tanakh. She provides clear examples of how various approaches to biblical research and interpretation can enrich your understanding of this inexhaustibly fruitful and powerful text.

Joseph Hough, the Dean of Union Theological Seminary, says Professor Levine is "the best classroom teacher I have seen in my 35 years in theological education, bar none."

Customers concur: "Levine is dynamic, exciting to listen to, and her knowledge of her subject is well organized and conveyed." "Wonderful course. Interestingly taught. Thought provoking, stimulating. Wow!"

A Conceptual Road Map to Biblical Studies

The Old Testament prophets' poetic calls for personal and social justice continue to urge people and nations to reform their lives, even as biblical wisdom literature challenges our views of God, and the Psalms enrich the prayer lives of millions.

Studded with genres ranging from myth and saga to law and proverb, from military history to love poetry, informed by world-views radically different from yet still fundamental to our own, the Old Testament tells a people's sacred story. It is a narrative of divine action in history that is holy writ to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.

Of course, 24 lectures cannot hope to cover the Old Testament in its entirety. The early parts of the Genesis narrative or the stories of Moses and David alone could easily occupy a whole course.

The method of the course is to discuss especially interesting or prominent passages from a cross-section of all the genres the Old Testament contains, using each passage as an example of how to apply a particular method of interpretation to the Bible.

Often Professor Levine uses representative figures or episodes as a highway into biblical meaning. Whether it's the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis, David and Bathsheba from II Samuel, or the apocalyptic imagery found in the book of Daniel, she brings biblical characters and passages to life and vividly reveals the magnificent artistry that suffuses the Old Testament.

Through these lectures, you will not only probe the content of the biblical books, but you will also explore debates over their meaning, the historical and cultural situations they reflect and address, and the critical methods by which they have been interpreted.

The lectures presuppose only the most general familiarity with biblical figures and themes—the Garden of Eden, Moses and the Exodus, the Ten Commandments, etc.—biblical literacy, sociologists have noted, is on the wane in the West.

Although students do not need to follow the lectures with an open Bible, reading the texts listed at the top of each of the outlines will enhance appreciation for the material.

Writings that Form the Spiritual Bedrock for Millions

Even if you know the Old Testament well, you will find it enlightening to hear Professor Levine discuss how it appears against the larger background of the ancient Near East as revealed by research in archaeology, cross-cultural studies, and comparative religion.

Even were one to argue that the text is divinely inspired or dictated by God, one might still want to know as much as possible about the particulars: Why these words? Why this order? Why this social context? Why this translation?

Although she focuses on historical and literary issues, Professor Levine also provides thoughtful reflections and useful information on the religious questions that arise from these sacred texts, and the lectures do not avoid raising issues of religious concern.

The goal of an academic course in biblical studies, she maintains, is not to undermine religious faith, but to use the best available knowledge and research to give believers richer insight into the writings that form their spiritual bedrock.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    In the Beginning
    What are the diverse issues, critical methods, and approaches that can play a role in biblical interpretation? How do they shed light on the chapter where God says "let there be light"? x
  • 2
    Adam and Eve
    This lecture follows Genesis selectively, episode by episode, to highlight its status as a foundational narrative, its complexity, the possible order of its composition, its ancient Near Eastern connections, and the questions it raises. x
  • 3
    Murder, Flood, Dispersion
    This lecture investigates the major themes of Genesis by analyzing the stories of Cain and Abel, Noah's Flood, the Tower of Babel, and more. x
  • 4
    Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar
    Here we meet Abraham—faithful hero, morally ambiguous trickster, and patriarch—first briefly via historical investigation, and then through a close reading of Genesis 12:10–20. x
  • 5
    The accounts of Abraham's son Isaac and daughter-in-law Rebecca (Genesis 21–24) provide the opportunity to introduce the method of biblical study known as "source criticism" as well as to demonstrate its limitations. x
  • 6
    The Jacob Saga
    The story of Isaac's sons Jacob and Esau (beginning in Genesis 25) provides an example of the insights that can be gleaned from "form criticism." This approach attends carefully to metaphor, double meaning, narrative voice, physical descriptions, handling of motivation, and use of dialogue. x
  • 7
    Folklore Analysis and Type Scenes
    Source and form criticism can help us understand common biblical plot lines, or "type scenes." Type-scene analysis, a method pioneered by folklorists, reveals narrative art and teaches about community heroes and values. Here we focus on betrothal scenes. x
  • 8
    Moses and Exodus
    Combining folklore, morality, theology and, perhaps, historical memory, Exodus 1–15 offers quick-witted women, a reluctant hero, and a mysterious deity. This lecture introduces "text criticism" while discussing slavery in Egypt, Moses' infancy and commission, and the Exodus itself. x
  • 9
    The God of Israel
    More than an account of the liberation of Hebrew slaves, the opening chapters of Exodus also provide insight into the name of the deity and the sources employed in the Pentateuch's composition. x
  • 10
    Covenant and Law, Part I
    Knowing the forms that legal contracts could take in the ancient Near East helps us understand the character of the covenants that the deity makes with the people (through Moses), and with individuals such as Noah, Abraham, and David. x
  • 11
    Covenant and Law, Part II
    Likely products of centuries of development, the Torah's laws concerning diet, farming, and sexual practices mark the covenant community as a holy people. Scholars still debate the laws' origin, symbolic meaning, and implementation. x
  • 12
    The “Conquest”
    With this lecture we move to Joshua, the first prophetic book. After looking briefly at the account of Moses' death and the function of "holy war," we address Joshua through three major explanations for Israel's presence in Canaan: conquest, immigration, and internal revolt. x
  • 13
    The Book of Judges, Part I
    In essence a large type scene of apostasy, punishment, repentance, and rescue, Judges ultimately spirals into idolatry, rape, and near genocide. Yet this deep tragedy is leavened by high comedy, which this lecture introduces even as it raises historical, theological, and moral questions. x
  • 14
    The Book of Judges, Part II
    Returning to Gideon's son Abimelech and then introducing the tragic judges of Jephthah and Samson, this lecture unveils the increasing instability of the judge as political leader and the descent of Israel's tribal confederation into moral and political chaos. x
  • 15
    Samuel and Saul
    This lecture begins with Samuel, who represents the transition from charismatic leader to prophet, and then turns to the tragedy of King Saul to reveal the benefits and liabilities of monarchy. x
  • 16
    King David
    What is David's status in history? How does the complex story of his relationship with Bathsheba combine the personal and political while revealing his charm, his ruthlessness, and his faith? x
  • 17
    From King Solomon to Preclassical Prophecy
    Biblical prophets were known less for predicting the future than for communicating divine will, usually through poetry, and often in debate with kings and priests. This lecture focuses on the "preclassical" (nonwriting) prophets, particularly Elijah. x
  • 18
    The Prophets and the Fall of the North
    Amos and Hosea, the first two classical prophets whose words are preserved in the canon, offer poetic critiques of the government of Israel, the priesthood, and the rich. What followed from their warnings about both personal behavior and political machinations? x
  • 19
    The Southern Kingdom
    What was the context in which the major prophet Isaiah issues his oracles? How did the Southern Kingdom of Israel respond under its kings Hezekiah and Josiah? x
  • 20
    Babylonian Exile
    This lecture begins on the eve of the Exile, with the prophetic warnings of Jeremiah. It introduces the prophecies, narratives, and law by which the Judean exiles maintained their identity. x
  • 21
    Restoration and Theocracy
    What did the exiles find on their return from Babylon? How did these conditions lead to the breakdown of classical prophecy and an increasing concern with assimilation and intermarriage? x
  • 22
    Wisdom Literature
    Since the "Sumerian Job" of the 4th century B.C.E., authors have attempted to make sense of the world and our place in it. Biblical contributions to such "wisdom literature" range from the optimistic Song of Songs to the practical proverbs and the pessimistic Ecclesiastes. But the most famous, and most controversial, is the Book of Job. x
  • 23
    Life in the Diaspora
    The Babylonian Exile gave rise to the Diaspora ("dispersion") of the Judeans, now known as Jews. New questions of identity arose. The court tales of Esther and Daniel, like those of Joseph and Moses, gave answers at once humorous, macabre, and profound. x
  • 24
    Apocalyptic Literature
    What are the literary devices and sociological origins of apocalyptic writing? How are these typified by the Old Testament's only full-blown apocalyptic account (Daniel 7–12)? We conclude with a few comments on messianic speculation and future hope. x

Lecture Titles

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  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 152-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 152-page course synopsis
  • Portraits & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Amy-Jill Levine

About Your Professor

Amy-Jill Levine, Ph.D.
Vanderbilt University
Dr. Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and the College of Arts and Sciences. She is also Affiliated Professor at the Woolf Institute, Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Dr. Levine...
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Old Testament is rated 3.7 out of 5 by 260.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Always Leave Them Wanting More And so she does in her last lecture, on “Apocalyptic Literature”, spending almost as much time discussing what she was unable to include in the course as she did on the lecture title. It is clear from her delivery that she really, really wants to tell us more about what was not included, but time constraints did not allow her that luxury. After the first six lectures, which are largely chronological as one would expect (begin at the beginning) she moves the course into a more topically oriented presentation, even though she mostly stays on a chronological course. For example a lecture on King David follows one on Samuel and Saul. For me this was very effective, although some reviewers disagree. Much of her examination of the Old Testament is a critical one, often as a literary critique, using tools that would be familiar to anyone who has had read a work closely. And the best part is that she manages to introduce one critical method after another in individual lectures, one at a time, and is then in later lectures able to refer back to one of them without fear that we will not understand her perspective. Quite a piece of magic to build the course in a comprehensive fashion, using a historical flow, a topical approach and an introduction to literary criticism interwoven all in one course. As a self-described feminist, it should come as no surprise that she brings that perspective to the course. While some look at this as a failing, for me it added a depth to the course, and broadened my understanding of the text in ways that I’d never considered. For example, “We are told the Isaac loved Rebecca, but we are never told that Rebecca loved him.” Delicious and a perspective I needed to have pointed out. It is always interesting to read reviews of a course on religion that are delivered by a Professor who takes an academic approach. Even when the Professor is one of faith, there are those who expect, nay demand that the course follow their pre-conceived perceptions. In the case of Dr. Amy-Jill Levine interest turns to utter fascination. As an observant, Orthodox Jew (to be sure, she describes herself as an unorthodox, Orthodox Jew), one would think her well qualified from a religious perspective to prepare and deliver a class on the Old Testament. But that does not stop the many criticisms of reviewers who expect her to not only provide a literal interpretation of the Old Testament, but to do so from a Christian perspective. It appears that some (hopefully small number) of Christians are not aware of who wrote the Old Testament, but also for who it was originally intended. Ironically, the title of Professor Levine’s best-selling book is titled, “The Misunderstood Jew”. As for misunderstanding, she never said that Kind David did not exist, rather that “he many not have existed”. And as much as she noted his failings, it is clear that she really liked him and wished that he had been real. Professor Levine’s delivery is smooth and engaging. She often uses humor and a wry approach to help guide us through the course and its material. For example one has to love her discussion of “Song of Songs” where she declines to read some of the material as some of the audience may be underage and then gives us chapter and verse of the offending material. To be sure she does occasionally let out an audible breath of air that some reviewers dislike. It seemed to me that she did this almost as a verbal cue that she was about to start a new section in her lecture. Then again, it may be that on audio, it was more distracting than video. I do think that audio would suffice for most, but I found her presentation so dynamic and enchanting, that I was glad I spent the extra money. The highest recommendation. She left me wanting more.
Date published: 2019-12-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This is an extensive survey of the Old Testament. I purchased this unit as a help and outline to a course I am going to teach to Christian seniors at my residence.
Date published: 2019-11-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Focus of the Course I wish that the course taught more about the great truths that one can apply to life as the Bible is read, rather than all of the problems that the instructor had with the various books, writers and stories of the Old Testament.
Date published: 2019-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I will never finish this course - it is awesome Being a PhD engineer and a student of study, I have been looking into available info on the Bible and related topics. I have read the Bible more than once. This course expanded my brain. Thank you to my teacher!
Date published: 2019-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful teaching and great content! Even though I've been aware of much of the content that is presented in this course, I've been thoroughly impressed with the teaching and have enjoyed this production. Thank you for making it available to me and my family.
Date published: 2019-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating lecture series My wife and I are really enjoying the insights provided by Professor Levine. She is and engaging lecturer and describes not only the biblical text, but it's relation to other texts of the time, and give interpretations based on expert analysis.
Date published: 2019-08-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Old Testament by Dr. Levine review I purchased this coures several years ago and have finally made my way through it. Early in the first lecture Dr. Levine states her position on the bible by stating she is of the “scholars” that believe King David may never have existed but is a myth. She is coming from a position of explaining the bible as a work of literature. She often speaks of the Israelites as a cult. She continually demonstrates her personal bias as if she has an above average understanding of the subject. This is plainly an academic study. Her approach to biblical studies is really more of a comedic offering than actual serious Bible study. Most of the lectures are replete with Professor Levine adding in what she thinks might have happened or would like to have happened rather than what is written. She uses her bias, as a woman, to include assumptions that are not in the writings nor backed by any credible source. In conclusion, if you desire a review of literature this is an interesting presentation however if you are interested in serious bible study don’t waste your time.
Date published: 2019-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tanakh Torah Mishnah Having read, watched and listen to A.J. on You Tube we just finished her presentation on the `Old Testament'. I enjoy her insights wisdom and humor. We will go on to her course on the New Testament.
Date published: 2019-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extraordinarily interesting and insightful A wonderful course by a true, unbiased scholar. It shows the questioning, inquisitive mind off a great historian and thinker. A truly compelling course.
Date published: 2019-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I have finished 4 lectures so far, and I am enjoying them. The instructor is cognizant and respectful of all the different beliefs her listeners may hold. I am learning a lot, and she has given me much to contemplate. This is enriching my understanding of what God is saying to me in the Old Testament.
Date published: 2019-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Start to Finish Great lecture. She spoke clearly and with a reading pace. Covered many of the questions that I had for years. Kindled a fire for more information. Will relisten to it next week in case I have missed something.
Date published: 2019-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Old Testament The material could have been complicated but is presented in a way that is easy to follow even for a novice (Christian or Jewish). Professor Levine defines new terms before they bog you down, often using examples from everyday life.
Date published: 2019-02-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Old Testament I watched the first dvd, the fact stated in the intro says Jericho was destroyed before Joshua, that has been proven incorrect, the first excavation was done in the poor peoples section where the pottery indicated before Joshua, however later excavations in a different part of Jericho where the rich lived had pottery contemporary to Joshua.
Date published: 2019-02-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing This course is very disappointing. I was hoping to add to my understanding of the Old Testament by listening to this material. Instead, the course is filled with opinions and rhetoric that don't begin to align with true scholars of the Old Testament. If you're looking for a list of unsupported reasons to question the authenticity of the Old Testament, you'll like this. If you're looking for a deeper understanding of the Old Testament, you won't get it with these lectures. Sadly, the presentations are done with a tone of pride and arrogance as though no one could question the brilliance of the narrator. If this is what is taught at the college level, I feel sorry for the young men and women who are subject to its unbalanced sentiment.
Date published: 2019-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course. I learned a great deal. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2019-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I really enjoyed this. Amy-Jill Levine made it very interesting.
Date published: 2019-01-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointing This instructor has no objectivity toward the Bible, but erroneously classifies all the Biblical stories and characters as "myths." At times her style of presentation felt like a mockery. Faith-based Christians might find some of her comments offensive. Professor Levine would do well to learn from Professor Bart Ehrman about how to properly address this lecture.
Date published: 2019-01-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from OLd Testament This instructor was very convoluted with her ideas. She has a grasp of the Old Testament but she pulls things out of the air that I never see in the Bible. Also very hard to follow and boring. I study the Bible and do not agree with a lot of her exposition. I could not listen after several sessions
Date published: 2019-01-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Old Testament Course Personal view. I could tell the material for the Old Testament Study was out dated, and the instructor's view was not one I could get behind...
Date published: 2019-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Impressed! I have listened to this entire course and am on my second time through. Dr. Levine is easy to follow and I love her enthusiasm for the subject :-) . I don't know enough to know whether I agree or disagree with everything she presents but that doesn't matter; I am learning by listening to her perspective, can compare that to other research, and then make up my own mind. I have not yet read the Study Guide but am impressed by the detail and thoroughness in its pages.
Date published: 2019-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! Wow, I learned so much from these lectures. Amy-Jill Levine is a great professor, and makes learning about the Old Testament interesting and fun. Not only is she knowledgeable, but she has a great presentation style and you can tell she's enthusiastic about the topic. This course is absolutely fascinating. My daily Bible readings are MUCH more interesting and meaningful with the information I learned in this course. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2019-01-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The subject matter is boring to somebody like me who is not religious (I am Jewish)
Date published: 2019-01-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I Regret This Purchase I don’t know why I am so upset by this course? It just enraged me. However, it’s caused me to learn a lot and I like that. First Professor Levine starts out with Genesis, as everyone should who’s talking about the OT. But she immediately starts talking about the Babylon/Mesopotamia cuneiform tablets and how Genesis must have copied from the Babylonians. Oh yeah and the Tower of Babel? Yeah that was a Ziggurat, aren’t the Jews cute trying to out do them? Ha ha. If you are at all a believer in the OT and like to be mocked then this lecture series is for you. And wasn’t God mean to kill every one in the flood? And then not kill everyone in Sodom? Ha ha. Jews are cute and inconsistent. So I settled down a little and listened again, and then I started noticing that she would sigh, at least once a lecture, as if teaching us idiots was such hard work and it put her out so much. I know this is an affection, and maybe it makes sense and is not so annoying when you see her, but I listen and listening it drove me crazy until it became a game and I started waiting for the sighs and counting them to see how hard she was working. Then came the documentary hypothesis. Not as a hypothesis, but actually how it works. OK this is where I learned something because I did some research about this and it’s still a stupid idea but is interesting and so people still believe and teach it. At least I hope when someone spends all this money they are taught things the professor believes. So some guy, probably Ezra, because even though he wasn’t a priest he had that Emperor letter, took the E, J, D and P documents and copied them all down and made 5 continuous books even though there was no punctuation (like spaces, commas, capitols. All those annoying things that make reading this so easy.) in the scrolls. He just copied all those documents and wa la the Pentateuch. Had to be that way don’t cha know. I read a book once by a professor who talked about this Documentary Hypothesis. He challenged a college to show that he actually could pick out different authors of a modern work. So they got two students of the challenged professor and they wrote a story together and the professor couldn’t pick out the different authors reliably even though they were writing in modern English with punctuation. All the ancient scripts didn’t use punctuation and Hebrew didn’t use vowels. Bart Ehrman illustrates this with this example “godisnowhere”. That’s how the Greek would work because they use vowels. Hebrew would be compressed like, that but no vowels. So Prof. Ehrman says does that sentence say “God is now here.” Or “God is nowhere.” The translator of ancient scripts has to decide. And that brings up another point. I also own the Great Courses New Testament Lectures, by Prof Bart Ehrman. (He didn’t do that example in the lecture series I read it in a book by him.) One of the reasons that I decided to buy this lecture series was to complete the set so to speak. I pretty much don’t agree with Prof. Ehrman but don’t mind listening to his lectures because he doesn’t have the same sneering presentation I suppose. I even stopped listening to Prof. Levine and started listening to some of Prof Ehrman thinking I might be too hard on Prof. Levine. Nope. Still disagreed with Prof. Ehrman mostly. Still learned interesting things to think about after the second listen. Not raging mad. Prof. Levine presents some interesting stuff about different styles of critique. I always like it when people explain things like that. I had kind of settled down until she got to the 23rd Lecture “Life in the Diaspora”. She was making some good points then she said that the story of Esther was a “Farce”, even though the Jews use it as the basis of a Jewish Holiday, and a popular one at that. She doesn’t think the story is true since it’s a “Farce” and the violent parts shouldn’t be read, and she’s glad that some Conservative Synagogues have stopped reading the last chapters which makes her happy. Then she brought up an event in 1994 where a Jew heard this story then went and killed 30 Muslims. I have a problem with people trying to portray the Judaeo/Christian social religion as somehow responsible for fanaticism and in my opinion that’s what she did. After hearing that I went into the seeing red zone. I started learning more about Prof. Levine. I read her Great Courses Bio. Realized her name was Levine, and she might not be a former Christian, like Prof. Ehrman, making his living off destroying Christians faith and calling it research. Obviously the great courses don’t say anything about someone’s religion. After Googling her I found out more. She’s a “...mother of two that attends an Orthodox Synagogue...!!!” I thought; “Wow that must be interesting.” I can understand that. I attend Church every Sunday go to Sunday School, and mostly keep my mouth shut, but I’m not that far off what everyone else is talking about. Kept reading and then I found some interesting articles of her’s that I’ve actually read before. Especially the way she shows how the parables of Jesus, the sheep, the coins, the sons i.e. prodigal son are about counting. It’s along story. She’s very involved in the Christian/Jewish interfaith movement. She sounds interesting and I’m buying a book of hers, it sounds so interesting “The Jewish Annotated New Testament”. She also wrote a book with Ben Witherington III who is a Liberal Christian Theologian I like to read (even though I think Liberal Theologian is an oxymoron.). I also found a long biographical article on her that was very interesting, where I learned about her inter-faith exploits, and the book and other stuff. But at the end of it she admits that she only attends the Orthodox Synagogue because her sons like to go there. She’s says “So here I am, a non-kosher, non-Shabbat observing member of an Orthodox congregation.” That makes sense. She’s a thoughtful lady and a good mother and I hate this lecture series by her.
Date published: 2019-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love the lectures. The information is presented in a rapid moving and entertaining way. Amy-Jill Levine is the best! She is so comfortable with the subject, it is a joy the listen to her. Love the way she lectures. It would be a five star all the way DVD, if the video wasn’t so grainy.
Date published: 2018-12-31
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Old Testament As seasoned Christians, we began to listen to this course only to find that the instructor was in direct disagreement with our belief that the Bible is the inspired and true word of God and not a " Myth".
Date published: 2018-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Literary Dissection of Holy Scriptures This course will likely offend any Jew or Christian who insists on the literal inerrancy of every line and syllable of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, but it will entertain and instruct anyone who loves religious history and great literature. Professor Levine takes what she calls a “historical-critical approach,” examining the text with the aid of interpretive tools and knowledge of archaeological findings. As she explains, the Hebrew Bible is full of literary conventions. There are many repeated type-scenes, like the angelic or prophetic annunciation to a woman of her coming motherhood (used in the Gospels too), the man who meets a woman at a well, the infertile woman becoming pregnant, and the heroic Judge who arises to champion oppressed Israel against its enemies. The lure of these stories for contemporary audiences was in the variations on the well-known standard. When a man meets his future wife at a well, for example, he is supposed to be the one who draws the water, but when Abraham’s servant—seeking a wife for Isaac--meets Rebecca, she is the one who gets the water and displays her strength of character as against Isaac’s passivity. When Saul meets women at a well, he isn’t even interested in getting a wife but is looking for donkeys; this is an omen of his later failure as Israel’s first king. Then there are the divine covenants, based on two types found elsewhere in the Near East and Mesopotamia: the unequal contract between suzerain and vassal (Moses on Mount Sinai) and the royal grant (Noah after the flood, Abraham). Levine applies most of her lectures to the Bible’s narrative portions—Genesis, the first part of Exodus, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings—but she devotes one to the Mosaic Law and several to the Prophets. In the former she argues that the famous dietary and sexual prohibitions aren’t due to worried about hygiene or birthrates, but to fear of confusing appropriate categories. There are proper things to eat and people to have carnal relations with and things and people that aren’t. It’s a cultural matter of delight versus disgust. The prophetic books preserve critiques of royal alliances with foreign powers and of the infiltration of foreign god, but they also promise the rebirth of Israel/Judah to come. Ironically, when Judah was revived by Persia without a monarchy to criticize, prophecy lost its point. There is also a valuable general lesson; those who really want to understand the Hebrew Bible in all its depth and earthiness should master Hebrew. Only then will they understand the puns, the double-entendres and the jokes. Adam, for example, is raised from “adamah” (arable soil). “Tevah” is the word for both Noah’s Ark and the basket that carries infant Moses along the Nile. Feet are especially interesting. When the guards of the Moabite king Eglon assume he is “covering his feet,” they mean he is using the toilet (when a man’s undergarments cover his feet). When Ruth uncovers Boaz’s “feet,” she is really uncovering his (ahem). I have only one complaint. Professor Levine makes strangely forced sighs at the end of provocative or difficult passages. She probably does not notice she does it. This quirk is possibly more irritating in the audio than the video version. Otherwise, this fine course will leave you wanting to reread the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament when you have time.
Date published: 2018-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good learning experience Explains a lot of my questions from my readings of the Old Testament.
Date published: 2018-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Be prepared to have your faith shattered I watch this course on The Great Courses Plus on my ROKU preparing to do House Church and Bible Study. I know if I taught what on this course, I would be thrown out, but an educated person would know it is the truth.
Date published: 2018-11-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and extensive I have an educated layperson's knowledge of the Old Testament, and wanted to learn much more. Prof Levine delivers nicely. She, rightly, covers the Old Testament as a mix of myth, legend, religious advice and requirements, and some history written by people who came later, with their own agendas. It's quite interesting, for example, to see how the creation and flood myths were influenced so heavily by earlier Near Eastern myths. Though my interest flagged in just a few lectures that got into a tad too much detail for me, I enjoyed this course a lot and recommend it highly.
Date published: 2018-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The The Old Testament Presentation is outstanding revealing both an in-depth knowledge of subject and a spellbinding style of delivery. I was left with a desire to explore areas outside the scope of the lectures but which she briefly described in her closing remarks.
Date published: 2018-10-20
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