This advanced seminar will be grounded in a sociological study of ancient Israel as a basis for critical applications/appropriation of social world topics in contemporary contexts. Social scientific models have been used in biblical studies to describe, analyze and contextualize social realities such as: social groups (e.g., family, clan, tribe, elite classes); cultural relationships (e.g., honor/shame, marriage; debt servitude); patterns of behavior (e.g., sacrifice, prophecy, gender); political structures (e.g., monarchy, empire); political, economic and social change (e.g., emergence of states, changes in social stratification); historical eras (e.g., early Israel, Judah under Persian rule); and socially constructed realities (e.g., ethnicity, gender, language and rhetoric, symbolism). When practiced with post-modem and ideological criticisms, social scientific criticism also identifies the social context of the interpreter and the construction and use of models and interpretation of data in contemporary contexts and issues.
The first part of the course will cover methods and topics in the sociology of ncient Israel, reading in the literature of social scientific criticism in the last three decades in Hebrew Bible studies. We will study the impact of social scientific methods on Biblical research and interpretation, including perspectives that emerged in biblical studies across disciplines with literary, feminist, ideological, liberation theology, and global hermeneutical approaches. We will consider heuristic models for appropriating and critiquing insights from the study of ancient social worlds in contemporary applications. In the second half of the course, each student will give a seminar presentation that reviews one of the topics of the social world of the HB. The final research paper assigned will use a social scientific reading of an HB text to create a hermeneutic for appropriation of ancient data, and suggest connections to a contemporary social issue. Contemporary issues for student research focus can include gender, feminism, land, ecology, stratification, cities, community, empire and resistance, etc.
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