Coordinator, Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Professor of Ancient Scripture
Offices: 2015 HRCB (Kennedy Center); 365-F JSB
Phone: 801-422-3359
Email: eric_huntsman@byu.edu
Twitter: @EricDHuntsman

Religion A 302:
The Old Testament

Course Description

Winter 209 Syllabus

Rel A 302 is an introductory survey to the second half of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, commonly known as the "Old Testament." In addition to reading much of 1 Kings thru Malachi, this course will introduce students to the basic historical context and the literary and theological issues that surround this important work of scripture.

Course Objectives

This section of Rel 302 has three major objectives

  • First, to increase the student’s knowledge of the Book of Mormon—that is, to familiarize him or her with the basic storylines, characters, and concepts in this book of scripture.
  • Second, to help the student read, discuss, and write about the Book of Mormon as both a source of scriptural knowledge and as a sacred text by asking basic historical, literary, and theological questions (a process known as "exegesis").
  • Third, to strengthen individual testimonies of sacred truths, particularly of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the Restoration.

Class discussions, quizzes, and exams will all be formatted with these three overarching objectives in mind. Although both instruction and positive spiritual experiences in class will assist students in seeking the Holy Ghost as an aid in studying and pondering LDS scripture, doctrine and history, the greatest spiritual experiences that students will have this semester will most likely take place outside of class during their individual reading and class preparation as they seriously, and prayerfully, study the scriptures themselves.

Commentaries and Other References

The greatest benefits from scripture study come from reading, pondering, and praying about the scriptures themselves. Still, serious, university-level study of scripture can often be aided by looking at or consulting various commentaries. A few such works that some may find useful in their lifelong study of the Old Testament include the following:

  • Atlas of the Bible Lands. Hammond World Atlas Corporation, 2007. [Hammond]
  • Bandstra, Barry L. Reading the Old Testament. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Co. , 1999. [Bandstra, excerpts online]
  • The HarperCollins Study Bible. Revised and Updated. Harold W. Attridge, general editor. News York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.
  • Ludlow, Daniel H. A Companion to Your Study of the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981.
  • The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Mich.: Zondervan, 1984.
  • Rasmussen, Ellis T. A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993. [Rasmussen, excerpts in packet]
  • Soggin, J. Alberto. Introduction to the Old Testament. Translated by John Bowden. Third Edition. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989.
  • Studies in Scripture vol. 3: Genesis to 2 Samuel. Edited by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989. [SS 3, excerpt online]
  • Studies in Scripture vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi. Edited by Kent P. Jackson. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993. [SS 4, excerpts in packet]
  • In addition to the introductions and reference works above, for papers and future in-depth research students should be aware of major commentary series such as the following:
  • The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. John J. Collins, General Editor. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • The Forms of the Old Testament Literature. Series Editors: Rolf P. Knierim, Gene M. Tucker, and Marvin A. Sweeney. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans.
  • The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Edited By: Robert L. Hubbard Jr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans.
  • The Old Testament Library. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Lecture Outlines and Presentations

  • M05Jan Introduction. Introduction to the Tanakh: the books and periods of the Hebrew Bible.
    • After class look at: Jackson, "God’s Testament to Ancient Israel," and Banstra, 9–11 (online).
  • W07Jan Historical and Literary Background. The World of the Old Testament—peoples, places, and periods. The land of Canaan, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the city of Jerusalem, and the empires of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia. Types of writing in the Old Testament. Exegesis and Exegetical Method.
    • Reading: Jackson, "A Chronology of the Old Testament," (packet, 153–158); Bandstra, 11–16, 22–29 (online); Pike notes—"Literary Background of the Old Testament" (packet, 161–69); read intro to "Chronology" and skim the following chart, BD, 635–639; also "Dispensations," BD, 657–58; Hammond maps, 18–25; Huntsman, "Teaching through Exegesis: Helping Students Ask Questions of the Text" (packet, 263–273).
  • M12Jan A Biblical History of Judah and Israel. A covenant view of history; the "Former Prophets" of the Nevi’im: background of the Deuteronomistic (Judges–2 Kings); the Ketuvim and the Chronicler’s Histories (1 Chronicles–Nehemiah). Setting the stage for Solomon: the kingship of David (review).
    • Reading: "Covenant," "Abraham, Covenant of," "Law of Moses," "David," "Kings, Books of" and "Chronicles," BD, 651, 602, 722–23, 653–54, 721, 635; Seely, "Kings and Chronicles" (packet, 57–62); Bandstra, 204–208, 474–481 (online); Pike notes—"Israel, Historical Background of" and "Considerations for Studying the Book of Kings" (packet, 177–80, 199–202). Skim chapter headings of 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles 1–21 (you may also want to look over Rel A 301 lectures 25 and 26 available at http://erichuntsman.com)
  • W14Jan Solomon. Solomon becomes king; his wisdom; his kingdom; his fall.
    • Reading: Szink, "The Reign of Solomon" (packet, 63–70); Bandstra, 278–281, 282–83 (online); "Solomon," "Adonijah," "Nathan," BD, 775, 604, 737. 1 Kings 1–4, 9–11; Psalm 72; 2 Chronicles 1. Outline of 1 Kings 1–11
  • M19Jan MARTIN LUTHER KING HOLIDAY. No Class.
  • W21Jan The Temple of the Lord. Preparations and construction; furnishings; Solomon’s other buildings; works in bronze and brass; the dedication; other Chronicler’s additions; divine manifestations.
    • Reading: "Temple of Solomon" and "Ark of the Covenant," BD 782–83, 613–14; Bandstra, 282–83 (online). 1 Kings 6–8; 1 Chronicles 22, 28–29; 2 Chronicles 2–7.
  • M26Jan Biblical Poetry and Wisdom Literature I. The Ketuvim or "Writings." Overview of Hebrew poetry; the "Song of Songs"; introduction to wisdom literature.  Take-home quiz 1 distributed.
  • W28Jan Take-home quiz 1 due.  Wisdom Literature II. Proverbs reviewed; the alternate view of Ecclesiastes; introduction to Job.
    • Reading: Bandstra, 431, 451–454, 432–437 (online, read in this order); Ecclesiastes 1–4, 8–9, 11–12. "Job, book of" and " Devil," BD, 713–14, 656–57.  Outline of Ecclesiastes.
  • M02Feb The Problem of Evil. The Book of Job; Overview; Characters and Their Positions; Lessons from Job; Need for Revelation: The Whirlwind and the Testimony of the Heart; Problems of Beginnings and Endings.
    • Reading:Job 1–14, 19, 22–31, 32:1–10, 36–42; Hebrews 12:1–12 . Tanner, "The Book of Job," SS 4, 391–406 (online).  Outline of Job
  • EXAMINATION Tu03–F06Feb; late Sa07Feb
  • W04Feb The Kingdom is Divided. The arrogance of Rehoboam; northern tribes secede; Jeroboam I and the northern kingdom of Israel; the "sin of Jeroboam" and judgment on his house; the Man of God and the prophet of Bethel; Abijam and Asa in Judah; the View of the Chronicler’s Historian.
    • Reading: Skinner, "Kings and Prophets in Divided Israel," 20–23 (packet, 71–74); Bandstra, 284–86 (online); "Rehoboam," "Ahijah," "Jeroboam (1)," "Shechem," "Dan," "Bethel," and "Calves," BD, 760, 605, 712, 772–73, 652, 621, 629. 1 Kings 11:26–40 (again); 1 Kings 12:1–15:24; Proverbs 15 (again) and 16; 2 Chronicles 10–16.
  • M09Feb Two Ways in Israel: Ahab and Elijah. Transition in Israel—Baasha, Zimri, and the House of Omri; Ahab, Jezebel, and the worship of Ba’al; Elijah and the drought; Elijah’s triumph over the priests of Baal; his flight to Horeb (Sinai); Jehoshaphat and the alliance between Israel and Judah; the end of Ahab. Outline of 1 Kings 12-22
    • Reading: Skinner, "Kings and Prophets in Divided Israel," 23–29 (packet, 74–80); Pike notes—"Historical Background for the Time of Elijah" (packet, 203–210); Bandstra, 286–289.1 Kings 15:25–22:53.
  • W11Feb The Ministry of Elisha. The passing of Elijah’s mantle and his ascent into heaven; Jehoram over Israel; the miracles of Elisha; wickedness in Judah—Jehoram, Ahaziah, and Athaliah; Elisha anoints Jehu, who overthrows the house of Omri; Jezebel and the worship of Baal overthrown; Jehoash repairs the temple and returns to righteousness; Elisha dies.
    • Reading:Skinner, "Kings and Prophets in Divided Israel," 29–32 (packet, 80–84); Pike notes—"Background of for the Time of Elisha" (packet, 211–214); Bandstra, 289–291. 2 Kings 1–13; 2 Chronicles 23–24.
  • M16Feb PRESIDENTS’ DAY. No Class.
  • Tu17Feb Tuesday is Monday. Revival of Israel in the Shadow of Assyria; Running from the Lord. Revival and decline of Judah under Amaziah; the northern kingdom reaches its apogee under Jeroboam II. The story of Jonah and background of the book that bears his name; his flight from YHWH; the repentance of Nineveh and Jonah’s seeming "discontent."  Outline of Jonah.
    • Reading:"Jonah," "Nineveh," "Assyria," "Amaziah," "Jeroboam (2)," BD, 716, 738, 615–616, 607, 712; Bandstra, 375–377. 2 Kings 14; Jonah 1–4.
  • W18Feb Preaching of Prophets I. The Nevi’im, especially the Latter Prophets; Book of the Twelve—Assyrian Period; Amos’ mission to Israel.
  •    Outline of Amos.
    • Reading: "Amos," BD, 607–608; Ogden, "The Book of Amos" (packet, 91–100); Bandstra, 204–205, 209–214, 350–359 (online). Amos 1–9.
  • M23Feb Preaching of Prophets II. Hoshea, a northern prophet; the message of spiritual unfaithfulness. Outline of Hosea.
    • Reading: "Hosea," BD, 705; Brown, "The Book of Hosea" (packet, 101–108); Bandstra, 359–362 (online). Hosea 1–14.
  • W25Feb The Fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Succession of kings in Judah and Israel; Isaiah’s call; the Syrian-Ephramite War and Isaiah’s messages to Uzziah (Azariah) and Ahaz; Hoshea and the exile of Israel.  Selections from the outlines of 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah
    • Reading:"Tiglath-pileser," "Shalmaneser," and Samaritans," BD, 785, 772, 768; Pike notes—"Historical Background of the Fall of Israel" (packet, 215–218); Bandstra, 303–308 (online). 2 Kings 15–17; 2 Chronicles 26–28; Isaiah 6–10 (contemporary applications for chs 7 and 9).
  • M02Mar Hezekiah and the Assyrian Threat Averted. The reforms of Hezekiah—the Great Passover; Jerusalem under Hezekiah; he rebels against Assyria; Isaiah’s message; the Lord defeats the invasion of Sennacherib; Hezekiah’s fall.  Selections from the outlines of 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah
    • Reading: "Hezekiah," "Hezekiah’s Tunnel," and "Sennacherib," BD, 702, 771; Skinner, "The Reign of Hezekiah" (packet, 117–121); Pike notes—"Historical Background of Isaiah" (packet, 219–224); Bandstra, 292–93 (online). 2 Kings 18–20; 2 Chronicles 29–32; Isaiah 36–39.
  • EXAM REVIEW MATERIALS
  • W04Mar Studying Isaiah I.  Background of Isaiah and his prophecies; compositional theories; Book of Mormon keys for understanding Isaiah; the "Book of Judgment" (chs. 1–39). Take-home quiz 2 distributed.  Outline of Isaiah (complete for Rel A 302)
    • Reading: Jackson, "Authorship of the Book of Isaiah" (packet, 123–128); Bandstra, 300–303 (online). 2 Nephi 25: 1–8; Isaiah 1–5, 7 and 9 (messianic applications), 11–14, 24–27.
  • M09Mar Take-home quiz 2 due. Studying Isaiah II. Isaiah’s "Book of Comfort" or perhaps the "Book of Reconciliation" (chs, 40–55); his "Admonitions to Restored Judah and Future Israel " (chs. 56–66).
    • Reading: Pike notes—"Literary Quality of Isaiah" (packet, 225–228); Bandstra, 309–316 (online); Isaiah 40–45, 48–53, 55, 58; 61–66.
  • W11Mar Preaching of Prophets III; Reforms of Josiah. Micah, Isaiah’s younger contemporary; wickedness of Manasseh and righteousness of Josiah; Josiah falls at har Megiddon; prophets during the period of Babylonian threat—[Zephaniah], [Nahum], Habakkuk, [Obadiah], and perhaps Joel. outlines for Micah, Habakkuk, and Joel
    • Reading:"Micah," "Josiah," "Joel," "Armageddon," "Habakkuk," BD 731–32, 718, 714, 614, 697; Bandstra, 362–368, 373–375 (online). Micah 1–7; 2 Kings 21–23; 2 Chronicles 33–35; Joel 1–3; Habakkuk 1–3.
  • EXAMINATION 2  Th12–F13Mar; late Sa14Mar
  • M16Mar The Final Decline of Judah; Jeremiah I. Changing winds in Judah: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Jehoiachin as puppets of Egypt and Babylon. Jeremiah, the prophet and the book. Jeremiah’s Call and Its Confirmation; Early; The Temple Sermon and Response to It; Oracles and Signs of Uncertain Date; Jeremiah’s "Complaints." Outline of Jeremiah
    • Reading: "Babylon," "Jehoiakim," "Jeremiah," "Baruch," "Jehoiachin," and "Zedekiah," BD, 618, 710, 711, 619, 710, 792; Seely, "The Ministry of Jeremiah," 193–202 (packet, 129–40, some pages doubled); Bandstra, 319–330 (online). 2 Kings 23:31–24:20; 2 Chronicles 36:1–16; Jeremiah 1–4, 7:1–8:3, 10–11, 13, 16, 20, 22:1–23:8, 26, 29, 36.
  • W18Mar Prophets in Exile: Ezekiel I. The first Jews in exile; Ezekiel’s inaugural vision —the "throne chariot" and the promise of the Lord’s presence even in exile; Ezekiel called as a watchman. Prophetic warnings: symbolic acts—the coming siege of Jerusalem; a vision of the corrupted temple; more symbolic acts—the harshness of exile. Outline of Ezekiel
    • Reading: "Ezekiel," "Son of Man," BD, 668–669, 776; Pike notes—"Prophets in Exile: Ezekiel and Daniel" (packet, 243ff.); Bandstra, 334–342 (online). Ezekiel 1–5, 8–12, 14, 16, 18, 23.
  • M23Mar The Fall of Jerusalem and Its Aftermath; Jeremiah II.Further sufferings of Jeremiah; rebellion of Zedekiah and the second siege of Jerusalem (587/6 B.C.); Gedaliah made governor in Mizpah; his assassination and the flight of refugees to Egypt; Jeremiah’s laments and end; hope—Jehoachin released from prison.
    • Reading: "Lamentations, book of," BD, 722; Seely, "The Ministry of Jeremiah," 202–213 (packet, 140–151); Pike notes—"Historical Background of the End of Judah" (packet, 229–232); Bandstra, 330–332, 450 (online). 2 Kings 25; 2 Chronicles 36:15–21; Jeremiah 30–31, 36–44; Lamentations 1–5.
  • W25Mar Prophets in Exile: Ezekiel II. Oracles of judgment against the nations; oracles of consolation for Israel; Ezekiel again a watchman; the restoration of Israel and chapter 37—exegesis, exposition, or both? Future temple and land of Israel.
    • Reading: "Ephraim, Stick of," "Judah, Stick of," "Resurrection," "Armageddon," "Gog (2)," "Magog (2)," BD, 666, 719, 761, 614, 682, 728; Bandstra, 342–347 (online). Ezekiel 24, 33–34, 36–43, 47–48.
  • M30Mar Pick your passages for your exegetical paper! Prophets in Exile: Daniel. Part of the Ketuvim and not the Nevi’im—why? The historical setting: Daniel and his friends. Hero tales: the faithful three young men; Daniel and the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar; the fall of Babylon; Daniel and the lions’ den. Apocalyptic visions: the four beasts, the ram and the goat, visions of the future. Daniel outline
    • Reading: "Daniel," "Daniel, Book of," "Michael," "Gabriel," "Abomination of Desolation," BD, 652–653, 732, 676, 601; Bandstra, 463–472 (online). Daniel 1–12; D&C 65, 116.
  • W01Apr Begin "getting started" steps of exegetical paper! (packet, section 8).  Persia and the Jews I. Jews in Exile—the drama of Esther. Jews returning from exile—the decree of Cyrus. The Book of Zerubbabel: the first return under Sheshbazzar (Shelatiel?); the return under Zerubbabel and Joshua. Ezra outline
    • Reading: "Persia," "Esther, Book of," "Cyrus," "Zerubbabel," "Tirshatha," and "Temple of Zerubbabel," BD, 749, 667, 651, 792, 785, 783–84; Pike notes— "Historical Background on the Return from Exile" (packet, 243–246) Bandstra, 455–458, 481–483 (online). Esther; 2 Chronicles 36:22–23; Ezra 1–6; Isaiah 44:28, 45:1–4
  • Su05Apr Palm Sunday. Matt 21:1–17; Mark 11:1–11; Luke 19:28–48; John 12:12–19.
  • M06Apr The Temple Rebuilt and the Future Foreseen. Prophets of the Persian period. The ministries of Haggai and Zechariah. First visions of Zechariah—clean garments for Joshua, the two olive trees, the crowning of Joshua. Apocalyptic visions of Zechariah—the messianic future. Take-home quiz 3 distributedHaggai and Zechariah outlines
    • Reading: "Haggai" and "Zechariah," BD, 698, 791–792; Pike notes—"Themes and Literary Structure of the Book of Zechariah" (packet, 247–249); Bandstra, 368–372 (online). Haggai 1–2; Zechariah 1–6; 9–14.
  • W08Apr Passover Begins at Sunset. Take-home quiz 3 due Persia and the Jews II. Ezra Memoirs: Ezra the scribe—formation of canon and application of the Law; the question of mixed marriages and "the people of the land." Nehemiah Memoirs: Nehemiah and the walls of Jerusalem; opposition from neighbors. Nehemiah outline
    • Reading: "Ezra," "Nehemiah," "Tirshatha," and "Usury," BD, 669, 738, 785, 787; Bandstra, 483–486 (online). Ezra 1–6; Nehemiah 1–7, 13.
  • Th09Apr The Last Supper and Gethsemane. Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 13:1–18:27.
  • F10Apr Good Friday. Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18:28–19:42; 3 Nephi 8.
  • Su12Apr Easter. Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20:1–18.
  • M13Apr The Last of the Old Testament Prophets. The ministry and message of "My Messenger." A brief preview of the intertestamental period.  Malachi outline
    • Reading:"Malachi," "Tithe," "Levites," and "Elijah (last paragraph), BD, 728, 785, 724, 664; Bandstra, 372–73, and JCWNT16-20 (online). Malachi 1–4; Joseph Smith–History 1:36–39; D&C 13:1, 110:1–16.
  • Sa18Apr FINAL EXAM, 7–10:00 a.m. (in-class!)

Announcements and Upcoming Events

Recent Lectures

September 12: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, Denver

August 18-21 “Worship: Encountering and Being Transformed by God,” BYU Education Week

August 17 “LDS Christology and the Gospel of John,” BYU Education Week

August 5-11 Aspen Grove Family Camp

April 22: “Grateful for Grace: Appreciating the Saving and Transforming Power of Jesus Christ,” YSA 18th Stake Fireside

April 30: Womens Conference 2015 "Wells of Trust Fanning Flames of Faith"

May 8–9:   “The Search for the ‘Real’ Jesus of Nazareth: The Jesus of Faith, History, and Revelation,” Miller-Eccles Study Group, Fullerton and La Cañada, California

Upcoming Lectures

September 24 Second John A. Widtsoe Symposium, “Religion in the Public Square,” 7:00-9:00, tutor Center Ballroom, USC, Los Angeles (with the following link:

October 9 “The Footsteps of Jesus: Remembering His Miracles,” Cruise Lady Learn Our Religion Series, 7:00, 9118 S Redwood, West Jordan

November 8: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, St. George

November 14: “Sitting at the Feet of Jesus,” Time Out for Women, Portland