OT1110 -- Pentateuch


Fall Semester, 2006-2007

T. Fretheim, Instructor



I.       Purpose of the Course

An examination of the story of the people of God in the first five books of the Old Testament. Consideration is given to specific texts and themes and the interpretation of these materials for ministry settings.  Pertinent methodologies and socio-historical materials are employed to discipline the interpretive process.


II.    Objectives

A.     Come to know the flow of thought and the basic content of the Pentateuch.

B.     Become especially knowledgeable with respect to several classic texts in the Pentateuch (for example, Genesis 1-3; 15; 22).

C.     Become critically aware of the various approaches which have been used in interpreting Pentateuchal texts and begin to shape your own interpretive strategies.

D.     Increase appreciation of the value of the Pentateuch for your faith, life, and theological reflection.

E.      Begin to discern some of the basic problems and possibilities of working with Pentateuchal texts in teaching and preaching.


III.    Books Required

A.     Walter Brueggemann, Genesis: A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching.  John Knox Press, 1982.

B.     Terence Fretheim, Exodus, A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991.

C.     Terence Fretheim, The Pentateuch, Abingdon Press, 1996.

D.     Thomas W. Mann, The Book of the Torah: The Narrative Identity of the Pentateuch.  John Knox Press, 1988.

E.      Choose one: Patrick Miller, Deuteronomy: A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990  OR  Walter Brueggemann, Deuteronomy, Abingdon Press, 2001

F.      Bible (NRSV or other standard translation). Bring to each class.

G.     Selected articles and book chapters (noted below) -- xeroxed (on desk reserve in the library).


IV.    Books Recommended/Required Readings

Carol A. Newsom & Sharon Ringe, The Women's Bible Commentary, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992. Expanded Edition, 1998.

See attached bibliography.



V.     Course Procedures

Lecture Hours:     Tuesday       4:00 – 5:00 pm

                           Thursday      4:00 – 6:00 pm

The basic course structure consists of presentations by the instructor and discussions of lecture materials and readings as assigned below.  There are readings from the Pentateuch itself every week; read the text along with notes such as the Oxford Annotated Study Bible or, better, the Harper Collins Study Bible.  Students are expected to be present and prepared.


VI.    Requirements


1.   Writing Assignments

A.     Responses to Secondary Readings

A 1-page response to your secondary (non-Bible) reading (see chart) is to be submitted for three weeks during the semester; the first shall be submitted by Sept 21st, the 2nd by Nov. 2nd, the 3rd by Dec. 7th. Each response is to consist of two sections: (1) Insight(s) gained; (2) Questions raised. These should be focused on interpretive and theological matters, not factual data.  Total: three papers.

B.      Responses to specific biblical texts

A 2-3 page response to five biblical texts (see chart).  Each response shall consist of:  (1) A personal question raised by the text; (2) Some reflections on that question, staying close to the text throughout. Everyone shall have read the pertinent sections of the required texts.  Total: five papers.


2.   Reading
To be completed by the end of the week in which it is listed.


3.   Final Examination

A.     Identification (being able to know your way around the Pentateuch);

B.      Short answer (Bible, lectures, readings);

C.     You will be given one of these texts to comment on:
Genesis 12:10-20 (cf. Gen 20:1-18; 26:6-11)
Exodus 18:13-27
(an outline will be given in advance).


VII.     Grading


            Based on papers (70%) and final examination (30%).


VIII.    Office Hours


            Tuesday  3:00 p.m.– 4:00 p.m.  (or by appointment) -- BH 106

            Phone Numbers - Office:  651-641-3247

            email:  tfrethei@luthersem.edu

            FAX:  651-641-3354


IX.       Weekly Assignments






Week 1




Tuesday, Sept 12

Thursday, Sept 14

Introductory Issues


Genesis 1-11

Newsom and Ringe, xvii-9


Week 2




Tuesday, Sept 19

Thursday, Sept 21



Mann, Torah, 1-9

Fretheim, Pentateuch,

Brueggemann, Genesis,


Week 3




Tuesday, Sept 26

Thursday, Sept 28



Fretheim, 39-63

Mann, 10-29

J.M. Miller, “Introduction to the History of Ancient Israel” in New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. I, pp. 244-271


Week 4




Tuesday, Oct 3

Thursday, Oct 5

No Class

Fall and Aftermath

Newsom and Ringe, 13-18

Brueggemann, 22-88

P. Trible, “Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Interpretation” or God and Rhetoric of Sexuality, pp. 72-143.

Fretheim, 67-84


Week 5




Tuesday, Oct 10

Thursday, Oct 12

Fall and Aftermath

Fall and Aftermath


Genesis 12-25

Fretheim, 84-100

Brueggemann, 105-125,
  162-177, 185-194

Mann, 29-50

Genesis 3:14-19

(due: Oct 10th)

Week 6




Tuesday, Oct 17
Thursday, Oct 19

Abraham, Sarah, Hagar

Sodom and Gomorrah


Genesis 26-36
Mann, 51-66



Week 7




Tuesday, Oct 24

Thursday, Oct 26

Reading Day

Abraham & Isaac



Brueggemann, 204-221, 241-248, 260-274
Newsom and Ringe, 18-29


Genesis 22:1-19

(due: Oct 26th)

Week 8




Tuesday, Oct 31

Thursday, Nov 2

Jacob and Esau


Dinah and Tamar


Genesis 37-50

Brueggemann, 288-298

Mann, 66-77


Week 9




Tuesday, Nov 7

Thursday, Nov 9

Moses and Pharaoh

Plagues, Passover and Sea Crossing

Exodus 1-18

Mann, 78-98

Fretheim, Exodus, 1-22,
   31-41, 46-67, 96-112,
   152-176, 195-200

Newsom and Ringe, 30-39

Genesis 32:22-33

(due:  Nov 9th)

Week 10




Tuesday, Nov 14

Thursday, Nov 16

Law and Covenant

Law and Covenant


Exodus 19-40

Mann, 98-112

Fretheim, Exodus, 201-214, 246-252, 279-307

Brueggemann, 62-93 or Miller, 65-106


Week 11




 Nov 20-24

Thanksgiving Break




Week 12




Tuesday, Nov 28

Thursday, Nov 30

Law and Covenant

Law and Covenant

Leviticus 1-27

Fretheim, Pentateuch

Mann, 113-124

Newsom and Ringe, 40-48

P. Hanson, “Theological Significance of Contradiction within the Book of the Covenant”

Exodus 32: 7-14

(due:  Nov 28th)

Week 13




Tuesday, Dec 5

Thursday, Dec 7



Numbers 1-36

Mann, 125-142

Fretheim, Pentateuch

Brueggemann, 17-24,
  103-113, 163-170 or

Miller, 1-17, 97-128,
  160-177, 212-216


Week 14




Tuesday, Dec 12

Thursday, Dec 14


Deuteronomy 1-34

Fretheim, Pentateuch,

Mann, 143-161

Newsom and Ringe, 49-68

Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

(due:  Dec 14th)

Week 15




Tuesday, Dec 19





X.           Source Materials On the Pentateuch


I.  Commentaries:


                General:                One volume commentaries: Peake's; Jerome (rev. ed.); Woman’s Bible Commentary; Interpreter's; Harper's; Oxford.  Introductions to individual books in Interpreter's Dictionary and its Supplement; Anchor Bible Dictionary; Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary.


                Genesis:                R. Alter. Genesis: A New Translation with Commentary, 1996.

                                                J. Baldwin, Genesis 12-50, 1983 (Tyndale).

                                                T. Brodie, Genesis as Dialogue: A Literary, Historical and Theological Commentary, 2001

                                                W. Brueggemann, Genesis, 1982 (Interpretation).

                                                G. Coats, Genesis, 1983 (FOTL).

                                                D. Cotter, Genesis, 2003

                                                R. Davidson, Genesis 12-50, 1979 (CBC).

                                                J. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis, 1975.

                                                T. Fretheim, “The Book of Genesis,” NIB, I, 1994.

                                                J. Gibson, Genesis, 2 vols. 1981-82 (DSBS).

                                                D. Gowan, Genesis 1-11, 1989.

                                                J. G. Janzen, Genesis 12-50, 1993.

                                                C. Marshall, Genesis, 1999.

                                                A. Richardson, Genesis 1-11, 1953 (TBC).

                                                N. Sarna, Genesis, 1989 (JPS).

                                                N. Sarna, Understanding Genesis, 1966.

                                                W.S. Towner, Genesis, 2001.

                                                B. Vawter, On Genesis: A New Reading, 1977.

                                                G. von Rad, Genesis, rev. ed. 1972 (OTL).

                                                G. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 1987 (WBC).

                                                G. Wenham, Genesis 16-50, 1995 (WBC).

                                                C. Westermann, Genesis 1-11, 12-36, 37-50.  3 vols. 1984-86.


                Exodus:                  W. Brueggemann, “The Book of Exodus,” NIB, I, 1994.

                                                R. Burns, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 1983.

                                                B. S. Childs, The Book of Exodus, 1974 (OTL).

                                                R. Clements, The Book of Exodus, 1972 (CBC).

                                                G. Conts, Exodus 1-18, 1999.

                                                R. A. Cole, Exodus, 1973 (Tyndale)

                                                J. Croatto, Exodus: A Hermeneutics of Freedom, 1981.

                                                J. Durham, Exodus, 1987 (WBC).

                                                T. Fretheim, Exodus, 1991 (Interpretation).

                                                M. Greenberg, Understanding Exodus, 1969.

                                                G. Henton Davies, Exodus, 1967 (TBC).

                                                C. Houtman, Exodus, 3 vols., 1994-2001.

                                                J. P. Hyatt, Exodus, 1972 (NCB).

                                                J. Newsome, Exodus, 1998.

                                                M. Noth, Exodus, trans. 1962 (OTL).

                                                W. H. C. Propp, Exodus 1-18, 1999 (AB)

                                                N. Sarna, Exploring Exodus, 1986.

                                                N. Sarna, Exodus, 1991 (JPS).

                                                B. van Iersel and A. Weiler, Exodus: A Lasting Paradigm, 1987.


                Leviticus               T. Ashley, The Book of Numbers, 1993.

                    and                      S. Balentine, Leviticus, 2002 (Interpretation)

                Numbers:              P. Budd, Numbers, 1984 (WBC).

                                                R. Burns, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 1983.

                                                R. Clements, "Leviticus," Broadman Commentary, 1969.

T. Dozeman, “The Book of Numbers”, NIB, II, 1998.

E. Gerstenberger, Leviticus: A Commentary, 1996.

                                                J. Hartley, Leviticus, 1992 (WBC).

                                                W. Kaiser, “The Book of Leviticus,” NIB, I, 1994.

                                                B. Levine, Leviticus, 1989 (JPS).

                                                B. Levine, Numbers 1-20, 21-36, 2 vols.; 1993-2000 (AB).

                                                J. Marsh, "The Book of Numbers," 1956 (IB).

                                                J. Mays, Leviticus and Numbers, 1963 (LBC).

                                                J. Milgrom, Numbers, 1990 (JPS)

                                                J. Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16, 17-22, 23-27, 3 vols.; 1991-2000 (AB).

                                                M. Noth, Leviticus, trans. 1965 (OTL).

                                                M. Noth, Numbers, trans. 1969 (OTL).

                                                D. Olson, The Death of the Old and the Birth of the New, 1985 (Numbers).

                                                D. Olson, Numbers, 1996 (Interpretation)

                                                G. Wenham, Leviticus, 1979 (Nicot).

                                                G. Wenham, Numbers, 1981 (Tyndale).


                Deuteronomy:      M. Biddle, Deuteronomy, 2003

                                                W. Brueggemann, Deuteronomy, 2001 (AOTC).

                                                D. Christenson, Deuteronomy 1-11, 1991 (WBC)

R. Clements, “The Book of Deuteronomy”, NIB, II, 1998.

                                                P. C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, 1976 (Nicot).

                                                S. Driver, Deuteronomy, 1895 (ICC).

                                                A. Mayes, Deuteronomy, 1979 (NCB).

                                                J. McConville, Deuteronomy, 2002

                                                J. McConville, Law and Theology in Deuteronomy, 1984.

                                                P. Miller, Deuteronomy, 1990 (Interpretation).

                                                R. Nelson, Deuteronomy, 2002

                                                D. Olson, Deuteronomy and the Death of Moses, 1994.

                                                A. Phillips, Deuteronomy, 1973 (CBC).

                                                J. Tigay, Deuteronomy, 1995 (JPS)

                                                G. von Rad, Deuteronomy, trans. 1966 (OTL).

                                                M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1-11, 1991 (AB).

                                                G. E. Wright, "The Book of Deuteronomy," 1956 (IB).


II.  Other Important Works:


                                J. Abraham, Eve: Accused or Acquitted? An Analysis of Feminist Readings of the Creation Narrative Texts in Genesis, 1-3, 2002

                                A. Alt, Essays on the Old Testament History and Religion, trans. 1966.

                                R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 1981.

                                B. Anderson (ed.), Creation in the Old Testament, 1984.

                                B. Anderson, Creation Versus Chaos, 2nd ed., 1987.

                                B. Anderson, From Creation to New Creation: Old Testament Perspectives, 1994.

                                G. Anderson, The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish an d Christian Imagination, 2001.

                                K. Armstrong, In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis, 1996.

                                S. E. Balentine, The Torah’s Vision of Worship, 1999.

                                J. Barton, Reading the Old Testament: Method in Bible Study, 1984, 1997.

                                P. Bird, Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities: Women and Gender in Ancient Israel, 1997.

                                J. Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch, 1992.

                                A. Brenner, ed. A Feminist Companion to Exodus-Deuteronomy, 1994.

                                A. Brenner, ed. A Feminist Companion to Genesis, 1993.

                                W. Brown, The Ethos of the Cosmos: the Genesis of Moral Imagination in the Bible, 1999

                                W. Brueggemann and H. W. Wolff (eds.), The Vitality of Old Testament, Traditions, 2nd ed., 1982.

                                W. Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament, 1997.

                                R. Burns, Has the Lord Indeed Spoken Only Through Moses (Miriam), 1987.

                                A. Campbell and M. O’Brien, Sources of the Pentateuch: Texts, Introductions, Annotations, 1993.

                                C. M. Carmichael, The Laws of Deuteronomy, 1974.

                                C. M. Carmichael, Law and Narrative in the Bible, 1985.

                                D. M. Carr, Reading the Fractures of Genesis, 1996.

                                B. Childs, Myth and Reality in the Old Testament, 1960.

                                R. Clements, Abraham and David, 1967.

                                D. Clines, The Theme of the Pentateuch, 1978.

                                G. W. Coats, Rebellion in the Wilderness, 1968.

                                F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, 1973.

                                F. Crüsemann, The Torah: Theology and Social History of Old Testament Law, 1996.

                                J. S. Croatto, Exodus:  A Hermeneutics of Freedom, 1981

                                D. Damrosch, The Narrative Covenant, 1987.

                                M. Douglas, Purity and Danger, 1966.

                                D. Fewell and D. Gunn, Gender, Power and Promise: The Subject of the Bible’s First Story, 1993.

                                T. Fretheim, The Pentateuch, 1996.

                                R. E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?, 1987.

                                N. Frye (ed.), Is God a Creationist?, 1983.

                                R. Garr, In His Own Image and Likeness: Humanity, Divinity, and Monotheism, 2003

                                P. Gooder, The Pentateuch: A Story of Beginnings, 2001.

                                F. Gorman, The Ideology of Ritual, 1990.

                                D. Gowan, Theology in Exodus, 1994.

                                J. Hamilton, Social Justice and Deuteronomy, 1992

                                W. Harrelson, The Ten Commandments and Human Rights, 1980.

                                R.C. Heard, Dynamics of Diselection; Ambiguity in Genesis 12-36, 2000.

                                D. Hillers, Covenant: the History of a Biblical Idea, 1969.

                                W.L.  Humphreys, The Character of God in the Book of Genesis, 2001.

                                W. L. Humphreys, Joseph and His Family, 1988.

                                R. Hutton, Charisma and Authority in Israelite Society, 1994.

                                S. P. Jeansonne, Women in Genesis, 1990.

                                W. Johnstone, Exodus, 1990.

                                J. Kirsch, The Harlot By the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible, 1997.

                                I. Knohl, The Sanctuary of Silence: The Priestly Torah and the Holiness School, 1995.

                                J. Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil, 1988.

                                J. Levenson, Sinai and Zion, 1987.

B. Levinson, Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation, 1997.

                                N. Lohfink, Theology of the Pentateuch: Themes of the Priestly Narrative and Deuteronomy, 1994.

                                A. Louth, ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Volume I, Genesis 1-11, 2001.

                                M. Luther, Lectures on Deuteronomy, Luther's Works, American Edition.

                                M. Luther, Lectures on Genesis, Luther's Works, American Edition.

                                T. Mann, The Book of the Torah: The Narrative Integrity of the Pentateuch, 1988.

                                D. McCarthy, Old Testament Covenant, 1972.

                                S. McEvenue, The Narrative Style of the Priestly Writer, 1971.

                                G. Mendenhall, Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East, 1955. (Summarized in "Covenant" IDB).

                                C. Meyers. Discovering Eve:  Ancient Israelite Women in Context, 1988.

                                R.W.L. Moberly, The Old Testament of The Old Testament:  Patriarchal Narratives and Mosaic Yahwism, 1992.

                                B. Moyers, Genesis: A Living Conversation, 1996

                                R. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest: Community and Priesthood in Biblical Theology, 1993.

                                E. W. Nicholson, Exodus and Sinai in History and Tradition, 1973.

                                E. W. Nicholson, God and His People: Covenant and Theology in the Old Testament, 1986.

                                M. Noth, A History of Pentateuchal Traditions, trans. 1971.

                                M. Noth, The Laws in the Pentateuch and Other Essays, trans. 1966.

                                D. Patrick, Old Testament Law, 1985.

C. Pressler, The View of Women Found in Deuteronomic Family Laws, 1993.

                                G. Ramsey, The Quest for the Historical Israel, 1981.

                                R. Rendtorff, The Book of Leviticus; Composition and Reception, 2003.

                                R. Rendtorff, The Problem of the Process of Transmission in the Pentateuch, 1990.

                                N. Rosenblatt, Wrestling with Angels, 1995.

                                J. Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative, 1992.

                                M. S. Smith, The Pilgrimage Pattern in Exodus, 1997.

                                J. J. Stamm and M. E. Andrew, The Ten Commandments in Recent Research, 1967.

                                B. Stratton, Out of Eden: Reading, Rhetoric and Ideology in Genesis 2-3, 1996.

                                T. Thompson, The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives, 1973.

                                P. Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, 1978.

                                J. van Seters, Abraham in History and Tradition, 1975.

                                G. von Rad, Studies in Deuteronomy, trans. 1953.

                                G. von Rad, The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays, trans. 1966.

                                J. W. Watts, Reading Law: The Rhetorical Shaping of The Pentateuch, 1999.

                                C. Westermann, Creation, trans. 1974.

                                C. Westermann, Joseph: Eleven Bible Studies on Genesis, 1996.

                                M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and Deuteronomic School, 1967.

                                G. Wenham, Exploring the Old Testament Vol I: The Pentateuch, 2003.

                                C. Westermann, The Promises to the Fathers, 1980.

                                R. Whybray, Introduction to the Pentateuch, 1995.

                                R. Whybray, The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study, 1987.

                                W. Zimmerli, The Law and the Prophets, trans. 1965.

                                Public Affairs Television, Talking About Genesis: A Resource Guide, 1996.