Confrontations with Empire in the Hebrew Bible: English Exegesis of Esther, Daniel, and Ezra-Nehemiah

REL523
Spring 2018
MW 1:30-2:50pm
Area: 
Area I
MDIV Requirements: 
Diversity
Professor: 
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 
This course examines four short books in the Hebrew Bible that are set in the midst of empire. The course will proceed by conducting close readings of these narratives with special attention to the dynamics of imperial encounter within them. The exegetical approach of the course will be largely literary, but it will also address historical and compositional factors. The major orienting questions of the course will be: What are the manifold (and, at times, conflicting) ways these stories figure imperial power? What theologies of religious and political power are extant in these texts? What strategies of compliance, collusion, and resistance are valorized and disparaged? What literary strategies are deployed to articulate these various perspectives?
In addition to engaging the biblical text directly regarding the nature of empire, we will also critically analyze contemporary biblical scholarship on these issues. We will unpack the key terms and critical infrastructure of these modern interpretations, asking: What theories of power and subversion are at work, named and unnamed, in the work of a given scholar? When are categories like resistance and subversion helpful, when are they overwrought? Finally, when is contemporary analogizing misplaced? When is it appropriate? Is it ever necessary? Together, our aim will be to articulate and grapple with the challenges and complexities of reading biblical literature
Background Expected: 

Students are required to have completed one semester of Old Testament Interpretation (REL 500). No Hebrew is required.

Course Requirements: 
Attendance and participation
Three short response papers (2 pages)
Final exegetical paper (10-15 pages) and short presentation
Basis of Evaluation: 
Attendance and Participation (30%)
Response Papers (30%)
Final Paper and Presentation (40%)