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Unit information: Religion and History of Ancient Israel in 2020/21

Unit name Religion and History of Ancient Israel
Unit code THRS20219
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lindsey Askin
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


How did the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament get written, and how did ancient Israel develop into Judaism? The unit introduces the historical and literary world of the Hebrew Bible in ancient Israel and Judah from 1200-330 BCE. Students will be introduced to the texts and contexts of the Hebrew Bible in English translation. The unit explores the history of ancient Israel and Judea and critical debates in modern biblical scholarship as a basis for understanding the Bible. The unit will illuminate the rich cultural heritage and archaeology of ancient Israel, and the Bible as a profound witness to the complexity of human experience and articulations of the divine. This approach provides a strong foundation in the historical and literary study of the Bible, applicable to further studies in Judeo-Christian traditions.

Students will practise their oral presentation skills by giving a 10-minute individual or 15-minute group presentation.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the history of ancient Israel and Judah;
  2. apply an understanding of critical and theoretical reading to specific issues articulated in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the history of ancient Israel and Judah;
  3. discriminate between different critical perspectives in modern scholarship on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the history of ancient Israel and Judah;
  4. demonstrate appropriate skills in textual interpretation, historical analysis, and argumentation, using evidence from primary and secondary sources.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

1 x 2000 words portfolio (formative) [ILOs 1-3]

1 x 2500-word summative essay (100%) [ILOs 1-4]

Reading and References

  • New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha (NRSV)
  • David M. Carr, An Introduction to the Old Testament: Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts of the Hebrew Bible. Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • Jennie Ebeling, et al., The Old Testament in Archaeology and History. Baylor, 2017.
  • D.N. Freedman (ed.), Anchor Bible Dictionary (vols 1-6), Doubleday 1992.
  • Old Testament Guides commentary series (Sheffield)
  • Anchor Bible commentary series (Yale/Doubleday)