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BA2/3/9008S

Theodicy in the Hebrew Bible

Elective unit for postgraduates

Content:

This unit studies the various ways the Hebrew Bible explores the justice of God. The unit will examine the experience of suffering, and responses to this experience that explicitly and implicitly give rise to theodicy.
Various theodicies will be studied in the context of different literary traditions, including the Pentateuch, narrative writings, the Psalms, Wisdom literature and Prophetic writings.
Critical and exegetical tools will be used to study selected passages within these traditions.
Through the lenses of pastoral and spiritual care these traditions will be contextualised in contemporary community settings, and address issues including end-of-life/palliative care, aging, mental health, and trauma. Systemic and institutional themes will also be explored.

Learning outcomes: Upon successful completion of this unit the students will be able to:

Undergraduate

  1. Demonstrate a familiarity with the ideology of theodicy in a range of Hebrew biblical traditions
  2. Critically discuss a variety of scholarly approaches to studying the texts of the Hebrew Bible in relation to theodicy
  3. Explain the relationship between theodicy and socio-political contexts in the world of the Hebrew Bible
  4. Display a capacity to pastorally engage a specific topic relating to theodicy in a critically rigorous, sustained, and practice-integrated manner
  5. (level 3) Articulate and illustrate a personal theodicy for use in current church and community discourse

Postgraduate

  1. Demonstrate a familiarity with the ideology of theodicy in a range of Hebrew biblical traditions
  2. Critically discuss a variety of scholarly approaches to studying the texts of the Hebrew Bible in relation to theodicy
  3. Explain the relationship between theodicy and socio-political contexts in the world of the Hebrew Bible
  4. Pastorally engage a specific topic relating to theodicy in a critically rigorous, sustained, and practice-integrated manner
  5. Articulate and illustrate a personal theodicy for use in current church and community discourse.


Pre-requisites
:
A foundational unit in Hebrew Bible

Faculty: Merryl Blair

Teaching Methods: 12 weeks: 1 x 2 hours lecture periods per week, plus 1 x 1 hour per week in tutorial groups. Tutorials will alternate between presentation of exegetical papers and participation in group problem-based workshops. All students are required to attend and participate in both lectures and tutorials.

Offered: first semester 2018.

Assessment:

   Level 2:
One 2,000 word essay                                                         50%
One 1,000 word critical reflection on set reading         25%
One 1,000 word tutorial paper                                          25%
   Level 3:
One 2,500 word essay                                                         50%
One 1,000 word critical reflection on set reading         25%
One 1,000 word tutorial paper                                         25%
   postgraduate
One 3000 word essay                                                          50%
One 3000 word tutorial paper (exegesis)                        50%

 

Select Bibliography:

Brueggemann, W. Theology of the Old Testament. Minneapolis, Fortress, 1997, Part II: “Israel’s Counter-Testimony” (pp. 317-406).
Crenshaw, J.  Defending God. Oxford, OUP, 2005.
Cheryl Exum, J. Tragedy and Biblical Narrative: Arrows of the Almighty. Cambridge, CUP, 1992.
Davidson, R. The Courage to Doubt. London, SCM, 1983.
Floysvik, I. When God becomes my enemy: the theology of the complaint Psalms. St Louis, Concordia Academic, 1997.
Fretheim, T. The Suffering of God. Philadelphia, Fortress, 1984.
Laato, A. & Johannes C. de Moor, Theodicy in the World of the Bible. Leiden: Brill, 2003.
Levenson, J. Creation and the Persistence of Evil. San Fransisco, Harper, 1988.
Linafelt, T. & Timothy K. Beal (eds), God in the Fray. Minneapolis, Fortress, 1998.
Long, Thomas. What then shall we say: Evil, Suffering and the Crisis of Faith. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011.
Scott, Mark. Pathways in Theodicy: An Introduction to the Problem of Evil. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015.
Stump, E. Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering. Oxford, Clarendon, 2010.
Thompson, M. “Where is the God of Justice?” The Old Testament and Suffering. Eugene, Pickwick Publications, 2011.