S501 Tanakh – The Beginnings of Judaism and the Jewish People

Instructor: Rabbi Joshua Brumbach
Location: Populi (https://mjti.populiweb.com)
DatesOctober 3 December 5, 2021

This course examines the Tanakh as the story of the Jewish people and as the foundation of Jewish thought, life and traditions. The course covers early Jewish history focusing on the role of the Jewish people in the  canonical narrative. The function of key writings and events in the formation of religion and culture in  ancient Israel, as well as in the ongoing life of the Jewish people, will be  addressed. Special emphasis is given  to the historical, social and cultural setting of the Tanakh in the Ancient Near East.

This is a firstyear foundational class, as such it introduces key theological points and ethos of MJTI. It is a  core course required for all graduate programs and certificate tracks.

The Tanakh contains the foundational narratives of the Jewish people and is central to the development of  Jewish thought, life and traditions. It also serves as the theological foundation for Christianity. Therefore,  understanding its development and interpretation is essential for any student of the Bible. Equally important is Israel’s covenantal role and responsibility within the Canonical Narrative. This course responds to the need  for individual and communal understanding of the Tanakh, especially as the foundational witness to the relationship between God and Israel. In order to address this need, we study core Tanakh texts from the  Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings concerning this tumultuous relationship in dialog with Jewish interpretative tradition and reflect on them in light of the Apostolic Writings in order to know and respond to God more deeply in the present moment.

There are no prerequisites for this course, but basic familiarity with Hebrew is helpful.

This is an online videoconference course. The student must have a computer, headset, and highspeed  internet access. Please contact Joyce Klayman, our IT assistant, for technical help at jbklay@gmail.com.

Online webinar and asynchronous online discussion.


  • Full participation in video conferences, online discussion threads, and a final paper.
  • Each week I may also assign each student the responsibility of presenting some of the day’s assigned reading to the class.
  • Please have your JPS HebrewEnglish Tanakh available for each class.


  • JPS HebrewEnglish Tanakh. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1999.
  • Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative, Revised Ed. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
  • Brettler, Marc Zvi. How to Read the Bible. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2005.
  • Shanks, Hershel, ed. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple, 3rd ed.  Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1999.
  • Tullock, John H. The Old Testament Story, 6th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2002. Please especially note the edition of this text, as it will save you money.
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