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Indiana University Bloomington
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Course Description

Prophecy in Ancient Israel (3 cr)
Nathan Mastnjak
JSTU-J 303 Arts & Humanities Topics in Jewish Studies #32817 / REL-A 315 #32845
MW 4:00-5:15 (WH008)
CASE A&H; credit given for one of J303 or REL-A 315 (with this topic)

The accounts of prophets, their actions, and their words, color and shape the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. This course is an investigation into the prophets, along with the phenomenon of prophecy and prophetic behavior in ancient Israel. The study of prophecy offers important insights into the dynamic nature of religious thought in ancient Israel as well as the formation of literary styles that would later find their place within the canon of Jewish and Christian scriptures. The class will discuss the development of uniquely Israelite forms of prophecy out of a general ancient Near Eastern background, comparing the prophetic performances of the Israelites with similar practices in cognate cultures. As the course progresses, we will observe the emergence of explicitly written prophetic literature out of practices which had been primarily oral and performative. Finally, attention will be given to the later development of prophecy into forms of apocalyptic eschatology and messianism. The goal of the class will be to acquaint the student with the full range of prophetic literature contained in the Hebrew Bible as well as to familiarize them with the unique cultural and historical conditions that contributed to its development. The class will draw upon some external theoretical models, primarily Max Weber’s influential concept of prophetic "charisma", but this reading will only serve to frame our study. The course will center on close reading of key prophetic texts, and is open to students who have no prior experience with the Bible or the ancient world. Prophetic literature, even in translation, is demanding and difficult—but rewarding.