RE  301 - Old Testament Themes
Fall, 2018

Instructor: Walter C. Bouzard, Ph.D.
Office: Grossmann 101 D
Phone: 352-8235 (O); 352-2140 (H)
Office Hours:
M, F !2:00- 1:05 PM, T 9:35 - 11:25 AM
or by Appointment (download my schedule here)


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Course Description:  "An in depth study of creation theology, prophecy, wisdom literature or another genre or theme within the Hebrew Scriptures. " The theme for this term is "the hatred of God," i.e., that which God hates.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will

1. Describe how religious, theological, and/or philosophical traditions have addressed questions of ultimate significance, meaning, or worth in human experience,

2. Construct an ethical response in an area of personal and social responsibility, and

3. Define their own religious and/or philosophical values and engage in constructive dialogue with others whose values may differ.

In addition, students will

4.  to utilize appropriate scholarly tools and methods in order to interpret the content of the Old and New Testament writings in relation to the
      historical contexts from which they emerged.

5.  to explain the formative influences of the biblical tradition upon western civilization and to articulate on its significance for contemporary life.

6.  to analyze scriptural, historical, theological, and ethical texts by using the scholarly tools and methods appropriate to each.

7.   to discover the scriptural witness of what God hates and to reflect on the significance of that for contemporary life in North America.


                    A study Bible.

                    Brueggemann, Walter. Prophetic Imagination. Second Edition. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001.

                    Zenger, Eric. A God of Vengeance? Understanding the Psalms of Divine Wrath. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996.

                    Other essays as assigned.

Course Requirements:

Class Attendance and Participation: Attendance is required. A third unexcused absence will result in the grade reduction of the final grade by a full grade (e.g., from a A- to a B-).  A fourth absence will result in an automatic "F" for the course. Moreover, as a portion of the final grade depends upon class participation, absences are potentially doubly deleterious. Use your absences wisely. Students with more than three absences may petition for permission to be excused from the penalty; a decision will be rendered by a vote of their peers.

Written work: Students are required routinely to produce short papers or assignments as part of class preparation. The short assignments will be assayed based on evidence of serious intellectual engagement with the readings and use of research materials. Students should bring a copy to class at the beginning of class on the day it is due. In addition, students are required to complete two class presentations and a short (3700 to 4000 words plus bibliography) term essay.  Click here for a description of the research paper. 

 Evaluative Procedure: 

20% Class participation.  Of this 25%,  2.5% will be determined by the student’s self-evaluation, 2.5% will be determined by the student’s peers, and 15% will be determined by the instructor.  Generally speaking, class participation should be notably INFORMED by the readings, FREQUENT in quantity, and ROBUST in quality. To see the matrix used for student participation click here.  In addition, each student will twice serve as a primary responder to student presentations. The instructor will include his evaluation of student responders in his assessment of the participation score based on these criteria.

30% Daily written work assignments (see above).

40% Two classroom presentations. See here for the assignments. A rubric for evaluating the team leadership of the assigned classroom session (20%) is found here. A rubric for assaying the end-of-term presentation (20%) is found here.

10% The short term essay (see above).

Credit Hour: You may expect to spend at least two hours of time outside of class, completing homework and other assignments, for every hour you spend in class. If you are not spending at least two hours, you are not doing it right.

From the Wartburg Honor Code:
“Students, faculty, and staff of Wartburg College are expected to demonstrate integrity in all endeavors. Students are expected to adhere to four essential principles:

1. Submit only original work and properly cite ideas of others, including fellow students.
2. Refrain from giving or receiving unauthorized aid on examinations and assignments.
3. Report any act that violates these principles.
4. Ask for clarification if uncertain about the expectations on a particular assignment.

                    Students are responsible for abiding by these principles and opposing academic dishonesty in all academic endeavors.”  Source: Student Senate, March 12, 2015.
Further explanation of the honor code can be found by clicking here.

In order to prevent any misunderstandings about the significance of the Honor Code for this course as interpreted by the instructor, please note the following: cheating on examinations and/or collusion in cheating will result in an automatic grade of "F" for the course. Collusion includes sharing of exam questions between sessions, not reporting cheating, etc. While students may work collaboratively on some assignments, simply copying the work of another student--and especially one who is not currently enrolled in this class--is regarded as a violation of the Honor Code and will result in an automatic grade of "F" for the course. Plagiarism, or theft of thought, is also naturally regarded as a violation of the Honor Code. Students should be sure than any written work that draws upon the work of another scholar is properly cited in footnotes. Plagiarism will result in an automatic grade of "F" for the course as will any other violation of the Honor Code. Please click here to consult the Student Handbook, for specific information about expectations for student conduct.

Attendance: Attendance is assumed. You need not call or e-mail to inform the instructor of your absence. Prolonged absences, however, are a matter of institutional concern. Should you need to miss more than one class in a row due to illness, family emergencies, etcetera, you are urged to follow the procedures outlined in the Student Handbook and, especially, to make contact with the Dean of Student's Office.  More than four (4) absences will result in an "F" for the course. Note that last sentence. Use your absences wisely.  A special note about doctor appointments: the instructor of this course goes to the doctor for appointments too. He makes those appointments at a time when he is not supposed to be in class. You should do likewise. Athletes are not automatically excused from class for competitive events. Absences must be negotiated with instructors in advance.

Language: Students should make an earnest effort to use inclusive language for God and humanity in all comments, oral or written, connected with this class. For example, use "humankind," "humanity," or "human beings" rather than "man" in the sentence "Man sins, God forgives." Use of inclusive language is generally more correct (both ethically and grammatically) and, besides, it keeps us all from sounding like Neanderthals. More significantly, the liberating God of the Bible sets free both men and women, equally and without distinction--and certainly not on the basis of one's genitalia. Written work that does not employ inclusive language is grammatically incorrect and will be assayed accordingly.  While we are on the subject of language, please note:  the word Bible is always capitalized. There are no known exceptions. The adjective "biblical," on the other hand, is capitalized only if it appears at the beginning of a sentence. 

Students Needing Accommodations: Qualified students with disabilities are protected from unlawful discrimination by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended. Students requesting academic accommodations due to disabilities must arrange for such accommodations by contacting Derek Solheim, Pathways Center Director.  He can be reached at the Pathways Center, (319) 352-8425, or by e-mail derek.solheim@wartburg.eduPresenting documentation of a disability early is helpful and often necessary to secure needed materials in a timely way. Accommodations should be requested PRIOR to affected assignment due dates. Accommodations cannot be provided retroactively.

A word about E-MAIL: Students are welcome and encouraged to e-mail the instructor with questions and concerns about the course, just as they are encouraged and  welcome to visit during office hours or, should your schedule conflict with posted office hours, to make an appointment. The instructor will make an attempt to respond to students--normally reasonably soon after receiving an e-mail. Note, however, that the instructor does not normally read his e-mail hourly (or even daily!). An e-mail sent at 11:30 pm Sunday evening requesting information before 7:45 am on Monday, for example, is unlikely to be read in time. And yes, this really happened--on more than one occasion!

Telephone: My office and home phone numbers are listed above for your use. Call me should you need assistance.

Laptop and other personal computing devices are not allowed in class. Recent studies have indicated that students learn LESS when the lap tops, pads, and other devices are in play. Use a pen/pencil and paper to take notes. See the report at KQED News for details.

Cell phones and text messaging: Don't. Not in class. It is simply rude and distracting for both fellow students and the instructor. Any interruption due to cell phones will result in a warning for the first incident (plus the instructor gets to answer the phone!) and a deduction from the final grade of 100 points (10%,or a full grade) for each occurrence thereafter.  Receiving and sending text messages will be treated the same EXCEPT you will be asked to leave the class for the day and marked as absent. Note, however, that during examinations, cell phones shall be on the desk, face down. The use of any electronic sending or receiving device during a quiz or exam will result in an F for the course.

Tentative Schedule and Assignments:

Please note: for the biblical assignments listed below, students are required to utilize library resources (commentaries and scholarly articles) as part of their class preparation.

Date Day Topics Assignments
8/29 1 Introductions To the course, to each other
8/31 2 What does God hate? Introductory essay.  Compose an essay in which you describe what you imagine it is that God hates. On what do you base your consideration?
9/3 3 Torah Genesis 1-4. Click here for the assignment.
9/5 4   Genesis 4-9. Click here for the assignment.
9/7 5   Exodus 19:1-20:21 - The Ten Words. Look up and read:

Brueggemann, Walter. "Sabbath as Alternative." Word and World. Vol. 36, no. 3 (Summer, 2016): 247-56.

9/10 6   Exodus 20:22-23:19  - The Covenant Code

Presenters: Wieland, Quintana
Responders: Nelson, Harms

9/12 7   Exodus 31-34 - Israel's Disobedience

Presenters: Harms, Nelson
Responders: Limke, Swain

9/14 8   Leviticus - Sexual behaviour (ch. 18)

Presenters: Pfab, Dodd
Responders: Volkman, Reynolds

9/17 9 Pause for coming attractions.... A student led investigation into Psalm 63. See the attached.


10 Image result for pirate

Leviticus - Neighbourliness (ch.19)

Presenters: Linthicum, Limke
Responders: Sieg, Ungs

ALSO, today is the international festival "Talk Like a Pirate Day." Aye matees, ye heerd me right.  Look it up on the world  wide riggin' if you don believe it.


9/21 11   Leviticus - Serious Crimes? (ch. 20)

Presenters: Swain, Ungs
Responsders: Quitana, Minden

9/24 12   Leviticus - Sabbatical and Jubilee years (ch. 25)

Presenters: Reynolds, Volkmann
Responders: Dodd, Pfab

9/26 13   Leviticus - Blessings and Curses (ch 26)

Presenters: Sieg, Minden
Responders: Wielad, Linthicum

9/28 14 Nevi'im
I Kings 1-11. How and why did Solomon fail?
10/1 15 Nevi'im
Walter Brueggemann, PROPHETIC IMAGINATION, pp. ix-19
10/3 16   Walter Brueggemann, PROPHETIC IMAGINATION, pp. 21-37
10/8 17   Walter Brueggemann, PROPHETIC IMAGINATION, pp. 39-58
10/10 18   Walter Brueggemann, PROPHETIC IMAGINATION, pp. 59-79
10/12 19   Walter Brueggemann, PROPHETIC IMAGINATION, pp. 81-99
10/15 20   Walter Brueggemann, PROPHETIC IMAGINATION, pp. 101-126
10/17 21   Hosea 1-6, 8.
Homecoming Weekend
22   Amos1-9.  Read the book carefully, discovering  why the prophet (and God) promises destruction to the northern kingdom of Israel.
10/22 23   Isaiah 1-5, 40, 60-62. Using commentaries and scholarly articles from the ATLA database discover why, specifically, the prophet (and God) has trouble with his people's behavior.
10/24-26   Fall Break! Yea! You will be quite lonely if you come to class.
10/29 24   Jeremiah 1-8, 22, 30-31. Using commentaries and scholarly articles from the ATLA database discover why, specifically, the prophet (and God) has trouble with his people's behavior.
10/31 25 Kethuvi'im Jonah, Ruth, Ezra 7, 9-10.  Write a short essay in which you describe who is on the inside/God favored and who is on the outside in these texts and why.
11/2 26   Look up and read the following two essays. Take reading notes and bring the essays and your notes to class.

Brueggemann, Walter. “The Costly Loss of Lament.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament. 11 no. 36 Oct 1986, p 57-71.


Suderman, W. Derek. “The Cost of Losing Lament for the Community of Faith: On Brueggemann, Ecclesiology, and the Social Audience of Prayer,” Journal of Theological Interpretation, 6 no. 2 Fall 2012, p 201-217.

11/5 27 Troubling Psalms Zenger, A God of Vengeance?, pp. vii-23
11/7 28   Zenger, A God of Vengeance?, pp. 25-38
11/9 29   Zenger, A God of Vengeance?, pp. 38-61
11/12 30   Zenger, A God of Vengeance?, pp. 63-95
11/14 31 What about Jesus? Luke 1-7, 11-15. What does the author of Luke indicate are things which God (or God in Christ) hates? Prepare a report to bring to class.
11/16 32   NO READING ASSIGNMENT. Instead, review  your work and notes from 9/3-9/19 and 10/10-11/14. Prepare a chart catagorizing the things God hates, including specific biblical passages. Bring your chart to class along with a copy of at least one current news article describing an event or circumstance that, in your view,  evokes the hatred of God.
11/19 to 11/23   Thanksgiving Break.
Eat some turkey! 



11/26 33   Student Term Presentation (X 2)
11/28 34   Student Term Presentation (X 2)
11/30 35   Student Term Presentation (X 2)
12/3 36   Student Term Presentation (X 2)
12/5 37   Student Term Presentation (X 2)
12/7 38   Student Term Presentation (X 2)
12/11   Final Hour(s) Student Term Presentation (1). In-class writing assignment