The Old Testament

Rated 1 out of 5 by from Professor let their personal bias ruin the corse The professor spent most of the course trying to form the listeners opinion by telling us the Old Testament is mere myth without any evidence. It's clear she's a scholar of some other religion which makes it very difficult for me to trust any of the other information she provided. This is the only lecture from the Great Courses that I felt was below par so far but it was well below par due to Mrs. Levine.
Date published: 2020-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and Grounded in Today's Realities My knowledge of the Old Testament was severely limited. I had no idea that there were two versions of the Garden of Eden. So I definitely started at the beginning and from that point forward, this was an extraordinary adventure in learning. I wish there were more courses from this professor.
Date published: 2020-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great balance of history and religious insight I have a number of Great Courses DVDs. This is one of my favorite. My wife and I enjoy listening to Professor Levine. She presents biblical history in a interesting and engaging manner. The volume of information is great and has the flavor of getting behind the scenes insight holds your interest.
Date published: 2020-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent introduction to the Old Testament I took this course after reading both the Old and New Testaments. Amy-Jill Levine did a great job of illuminating passages of the Bible which were unclear to me. The only slightly negative thing I have to say about the course is that Levine went very quickly, packing as much into each lecture as she possibly could. That was really OK though so she left me wanting to learn more. This is one of the Teaching Company's older courses so it uses the old stage set which looks kind of rickety. I also watched a newer course "Understanding the Old Testamen" by Robert Miller. I would say for maximum enlightenment watch both Levine's course and Miller's course.
Date published: 2020-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding scholarly analysis of Old Testament I took this course in 2001 when it first came out but did not review it. After twenty years of taking numerous TGC from Gafni, Brakke, Voth, Cherry, Johnson, Miller, Koester, and others I pulled Levine's off my shelf and revisited the course. This is the best "critical" scholarly analysis amongst a group of very good TGC. Critical here does NOT mean negative. It means detailed analysis of interpretations, inconsistencies between books, interpretations that would have been appropriate within the cultures of the time of the writing. Professor Levine brings in various techniques of literary analysis such as: form criticism, types scenes, translations that change the meaning from the original , similar stories from other ancient cultures, folklore conventions. She spent a lot time discussing how the text would have been interpreted in the culture and time it was written in versus the interpretation later cultures would give it. Although other TGC professors touch on some of this Levine does a more complete job. This is not a class for those who want to hear their current interpretation of the Old Testament. It is a class for those who want to hear the competing interpretations, want to question apparent discrepancies between various Old Testament authors, exactly who were the authors of the Old Testament books, what literary techniques were used by the editors who put the Old Testament into the one volume Christians call the Old Testament. The best insight you can get is to listen to numerous opinions from numerous teachers. Whatever other TGC you taken on the "Bible" Professor Levine's is a must "read".
Date published: 2020-02-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Deal with the bible, not your feminist beliefs or Dr. Levine, Need to understand quickly, her feminine viewpoint need to be stated as 'her opinion, her thoughts or her own beliefs, but please don't try to modernize the bible. ! I am one of the strongest voices for women and race equality. But in biblical times it wasn't that way. Right or wrong for modern times, teach the bible as it was, not how you think it should be or how you want it to be.
Date published: 2020-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I thoroughly enjoyed this course and learned a great deal. The presenter did an outstanding job keeping the material interesting and connecting with the viewer. I learned a great deal which, in the final analysis, is what this is supposed to be all about. Great course.
Date published: 2020-01-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not so much about old testament . if you do not know the stories in the bible this will not helpful . teacher in zip zaging to much old testament story itself is 10% of teaching . professor is anti christian like she is argueing against the old testament. instead giving us lecture on words and her own perspective not tne old testament .for preist or advanced .
Date published: 2019-12-17
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The Old Testament
Course Trailer
In the Beginning
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"?

32 min
Adam and Eve
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.

31 min
Murder, Flood, Dispersion
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.

31 min
Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar
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.

30 min
5: Isaac

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.

31 min
The Jacob Saga
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.

29 min
Folklore Analysis and Type Scenes
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.

30 min
Moses and Exodus
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.

31 min
The God of Israel
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.

30 min
Covenant and Law, Part I
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.

30 min
Covenant and Law, Part II
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.

31 min
The "Conquest"
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.

30 min
The Book of Judges, Part I
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.

29 min
The Book of Judges, Part II
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.

30 min
Samuel and Saul
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.

28 min
King David
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?

30 min
From King Solomon to Preclassical Prophecy
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.

31 min
The Prophets and the Fall of the North
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?

31 min
The Southern Kingdom
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?

28 min
Babylonian Exile
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.

31 min
Restoration and Theocracy
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?

31 min
Wisdom Literature
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.

31 min
Life in the Diaspora
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.

31 min
Apocalyptic Literature
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.

31 min
Amy-Jill Levine

The study of the Bible is a simply marvelous endeavor, and each time it's approached, students will see new things. I'm continuing to see new things.


Duke University


Vanderbilt University

About Amy-Jill Levine

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 earned her B.A. with high honors in English and Religion at Smith College, where she graduated magna cum laude. She went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion from Duke University. Professor Levine's numerous books, articles, and essays address such topics as Second-Temple Judaism, Christian origins, Jewish-Christian relations, and biblical women. She has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biblical Literature and the Catholic Biblical Quarterly and has held office in the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the Association for Jewish Studies. A widely sought-after speaker and favorite at the Chautauqua Institution, she has given hundreds of talks on biblical topics to both academic and nonacademic audiences, including church, synagogue, and community groups throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Her awards include grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

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