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Literature and Religion of Ancient Israel


Admission requirements

In addition to the general rules set out for admission, students are expected to have a good knowledge of Biblical Hebrew and Old Testament exegesis.


In recent scholarship there is much debate on the question if the final form of the Hebrew Bible is due to editorial processes. Moreover, it is asked whether it is possible to reconstruct such processes, and to which level of detail. This course discusses these issues, placing particular emphasis on so-called “empirical” evidence, which provides unequivocal indications for editorial processes.

Although some of the documented evidence has been known to scholars since the beginning of the era of critical research (in particular parallel versions of texts that are preserved within the Hebrew Bible), it has played only a small role in establishing models for understanding the editorial processes. This is now starting to change, as more documented evidence is coming to the core of the discussion. The evidence from Qumran is now fully available, the Septuagint is increasingly seen as eminently relevant to the discussion, and the non-biblical evidence is also playing a larger role, as the Hebrew Bible is more and more seen as part of the wider ancient Near Eastern literature.

This course discusses the kind of editorial processes the “empirical evidence” implies to have taken place in the transmission of the Hebrew Bible, and the methodological consequences for our understanding of this corpus of texts. Given the statement at a recent conference that “if the combined evidence of Qumran and LXX is taken seriously, we should throw away most modern commentaries of the book of Kings”, this is going to be the major debate in Hebrew Bible studies in the coming decade.

Course objectives

Through a thematic case study, the students will get acquainted with major issues in Old Testament scholarship and current themes of biblical studies, such as the role of various approaches and subdisciplines (linguistics, discourse analysis, textual and literary criticism) in exegesis. They will also be trained in critically reviewing scholarly publications.


See Time table

Mode of instruction


Course Load

A brief calculation of the course load, broken down by:

  • Total course load for the course (number of EC x 28 hours), for a course of 5 EC is 140 hours, for 10 EC 280. – Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars (eg 2 hours per week x 14 weeks = 28 hours) – Time for studying the compulsory literature (as a possible criterion approx. 7 pages per hour with deviations up and down depending on the material to be studied) (if applicable) time for completing assignments, whether in preparation at the college – (If applicable) time to write a paper (including reading / research)

Assessment method

The assessment will be based on:

  • Participation in weekly meetings, including reading assignments and short presentations (30%)

  • Major presentation (20%)

  • Term paper (50%)


Yes, Blackboard, additional literature and material will be made available through Blackboard..

Reading list

Juha Pakkala, Reinhard Müller, Bas ter Haar Romeny, Evidence of Editing: Growth and Change of Texts in the Hebrew Bible (SBL Resources for Biblical Study; Atlanta, GA: SBL, forthcoming). The relevant chapters will be made available through blackboard if the work has not appeared by the beginning of the course.
Additional literature, including some lectures from the 2013 Munich symposium “Insights into Editing” (, will be made available through Blackboard.


Via uSis.
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Prof.dr. R.B. ter Haar Romeny