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Literature, Culture and Religion in Ancient Israel. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible


Admission requirements

This class is open to all interested students, be it from ONOS or from other programs. Knowledge of Biblical Hebrew is not required.


The Hebrew Bible is a library, not a book – reason enough to explore its history and the history and cultural context of each of its literary components. How old is the Hebrew Bible? How old are the books it contains? What can we know about its authors and the function of its diverse genres from narrative to oracle and hymn? And what do the books in the Hebrew Bible teach us about the religion, culture and society of ancient Israel in whose Ancient Near Eastern context this fascinating collection developed? In this class we will look at Biblical books, their historical context and key topics such as perceptions of God, cult, ethos, kingship and future.

Course objectives

Knowledge and Insight

  • General knowledge of the contents and insight into the development of the Hebrew Bible, its parts and cultural-historical backgrounds

  • General knowledge of key texts from the Hebrew Bible about God, cult, ethos, kingship and future.

  • Gaining exemplary insight into similarities and differences to other ANE powers, their history, (material) culture and religion


  • The student knows how to place key texts from the Hebrew Bible in their literary and cultural-historical context.

  • Is able to transform knowledge and insight into answers in written exams (written presentation skills)

  • Is able to express own opinions and insghts from reading primary and secondary literature in a supportive class atmosphere.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lecture with seminar-elements.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

1st exam: written exam with short open questions (50%)
2nd exam: written exam with short open questions (50%)

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Resit of the exams is possible.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. Resit will be organized at the end of the semester.

Reading list

Required reading for the class is a good Dutch or English translation of the Bible such as the Nieuwe Bijbel Vertaling (NBV), the New International Version (NIV) or the Dutch-Hebrew edition “Tanakh”.
Secondary literature will be announced / made available at the beginning of the class.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory. General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.