S501-Tanakh: The Beginnings of Judaism and the Jewish People

Instructor: Carl Kinbar
Location: Orbund (server11.orbund.com)
Dates:  October 27, December 29, 2019
Note: This is an expanded course description and not the syllabus. Students who want to begin reading before the syllabus is posted (usually one month prior to the start of class) should contact the course instructor directly to confirm what required readings will be on the syllabus. For the instructor’s contact information, email the MJTI registrar at admin@mjti.org.

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 first-year foundational class, as such it introduces key theological points and ethos of MJTI. It is a core course required for all graduate programs, the MJTI certificate tracks and for the UMJC Madrikh Certificate.

In this version of the course, we study core texts of the Tanakh as witnesses to the identity, purposes, and motivations of God, which they describe predominantly in terms of his relationship with Israel. At the same time, we study the same texts as witnesses to the identity, purposes, and motivations of Israel, which they describe predominantly in terms of their relationship with God. Thus, this course is relevant to us because we want our Judaism to express our deepest longings for God and our insistence that Jewish identity is full only in relation to God. This course seeks to satisfy our desire to read the Tanakh in ways that nurture and develop these thoughts. At the same time, this course is relevant to us as men and women who want to understand the role of the Tanakh in relation to the Apostolic Writings and Jewish tradition.

Rabbinic Studies Students: Biblical Hebrew proficiency or registration in BH502; Jewish Studies Students: Basic Hebrew Skills.

Part of this course is delivered by online video conference software; therefore, the student must have a computer and reliable internet access.

Weekly webcasts and asynchronous online follow-up discussion

Study the assigned readings for, and participate actively in, each unit; write a mid-term exam and a final paper.

• The JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh, either the Imitation Leather Student Edition (Jewish Publication Society, 2001) or the Pocket Edition (Jewish Publication Society, 2003).
• Levenson, Jon D. The Love of God: Divine Gift, Human Gratitude, and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016
• Soulen, R. Kendall, The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Fortress Press, 2009).
• Course Pack (free download).

Not yet an MJTI Student? 

Apply Today

Get started with our hassle-free application process.


Scholarships are available for students.


Accepted students may register for all classes currently offered.

Academic Forms

Access MJTI Catalog and All Forms.

Pin It on Pinterest