Old Testament Backgrounds – OBST 800

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

A study of the peoples, movements, and cultures surrounding the world of the Old Testament. Special emphasis is placed on the impact of background material on the exposition of key segments of the Old Testament. Resources from ancient Near Eastern archaeological and literary discoveries are examined with attention given to their influence on informing the interpretation of the Old Testament. Historiography within the ancient world is explored with an emphasis on its impact upon Old Testament texts. 


BIBL 700 and BIBL 715


The rationale for this course is to equip pastors, teachers, and scholars with the tools necessary to do intensive research of background materials related to the Old Testament for the purpose of enhancing both the student's understanding of the Old Testament text and the learning experience of their congregants, students, or readers. 

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a working knowledge of biblically relevant cultures, literary corpora, and historical events from the ancient Near East.
  2. Understand the importance of shared cultural information between ancient Israel and neighboring countries (i.e. Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Ugarit, etc.) in light of an evangelical view of divine revelation.
  3. Identify and evaluate the importance of key archaeological discoveries that provide insight relating to the people, places, or events described in the Old Testament.
  4. Incorporate relevant background material into the study of the Old Testament text.
  5. Demonstrate, through writing, the ability to engage with Old Testament background material within the context of biblical interpretation.

Course Assignment

Textbook Readings and Lecture Presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the doctoral seminar courses require discussion and participation, which will be demonstrated both through the Reading Assessments and the Discussion Board Assignments. For each discussion board, create a thread of no fewer than 700 words responding to the prompt. The student must include as many scholarly resources as he/she deems necessary to cover the topic. Reply thoroughly to two other students in no fewer than 450 words. 

Reading Assessments (8)

The reading assessment each week is a summary the student has uploaded that demonstrates his/her understanding of and interaction with the reading. All of the required readings must be summarized here, not quoted (few quotes should be included, and no long quotes should be included). The student must paraphrase and summarize the material to demonstrate competency. Summarize the readings one at a time, with a section header dividing each resource from the next. This is not an essay, so it is not important for the student to provide an introduction or conclusion. The student must provide thorough summaries of the content with his/her own thoughts and interactions interspersed throughout. The assessment should be no fewer than 1200 words in length. 

Short Papers (3)

The short papers are designed to assess the student’s ability to incorporate various aspects of cognitive environment criticism to the study of an Old Testament book. Each paper must be a minimum of 1750 words in length (not including the title page, abstracts, bibliography, etc.). The paper must incorporate at least 6 new scholarly resources from journal articles or books (the student may include resources such as the course textbooks and resources used in previous papers, but he/she must also include 6 new resources for each short paper). All papers must be written following the guidelines of Turabian formatting.

Research Paper

The Research Paper is a demonstration of the student’s ability to engage with an Old Testament book using cognitive environment criticism. The Research Paper is an assimilation of all previous short papers together with a new section that is a minimum of 3750 words in length with 12 new scholarly resources (the student may include resources such as the course textbooks and resources used in previous papers, but he/she must also include 12 new resources). The previous short papers must be edited, updated, and corrected before assimilating them with the new section. The total length of the project should be approximately 8750-10000 words in length with no fewer than 30 scholarly resources. A final, brief section should discuss a plan for how the student would present the material of his/her paper in a Bible study setting, incorporating backgrounds material in a way that is understandable to learners.