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Prophets

Course Level: Intermediate

Course Summary

This course introduces students to the Major and Minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible. This course is a general overview introducing students to the cultural context, composition, themes, and pastoral application of the prophetic literature. As in the courses on the Old Testament and the New Testament, we will study the writings and lives of the prophets from the threefold perspective: literature, history, and our culture. Through the study of images, maps, timelines, and articles present on authoritative websites, our text and class discussions, students will grow in their knowledge of the Hebrew prophets. Students will also learn how to apply the message of the prophets to their own lives and ministries.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • To become familiar with and competent in reading the Hebrew prophets from the threefold perspective: the World Within the Text - Literature; the World Behind the Text - History; and, the World in Front of the Text - Our Culture
  • To identify the contents and basic themes of the prophetic literature
  • To distinguish between the Major and Minor prophets as well as the writing and non-writing prophets
  • To explain highlights from Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) for a deeper understanding of how the message of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible applies to our lives today
  • To identify the audience, purpose, and vision of the Hebrew prophets
  • To explain cogently the basic Israelite history that accompanies the writings of the prophets including the significance of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions
  • To articulate the importance of exile and redemption in the minds of the prophets
  • To define the relationship between the message of the prophets and the ethical laws of Deuteronomy
  • To identify what a nabi (Heb: prophet) means in its Ancient Near Eastern historical context
  • To learn the difference between “predicting the future” and “forth-telling”
  • To distinguish between the “apocalyptic” genre and the “prophetic” genre
  • To articulate clearly how the social justice of the prophets coincides with Catholic Social teaching in our modern age

Course Materials

  • Required Book: Sweeney, Marvin A Prophetic Literature (Interpreting Biblical Texts) Abingdon Press, 2005 ISBN: 0687008441; ISBN-13: 978-0687008445
  • Course Materials available at the VLCFF Amazon Store.

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: Introduction to the Hebrew Prophets
    • Explain highlights from Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) for a deeper understanding of the Hebrew Prophets and their application to our lives
    • Outline the history of ancient Israel during the time of the prophets
    • Be familiar with some of the major empires that had a hand in forming Israel’s identity during the time of the prophets
    • Discuss the cultural and economic world of the Hebrew prophets
    • Discuss the phenomenon of prophecy in the larger Ancient Near Eastern world
    • Distinguish between the Minor and the Major prophets
  • Week 2: Isaiah
    • The basic message of Isaiah to the Israelites in the 8th Century BCE as well as how his message might be appropriated in the 21st C
    • The meaning of the terms: First Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, and Trito-Isaiah
    • Who the “suffering servant” is to Jewish people
    • The typological and christological meanings found in Isaiah
    • The social message of Isaiah
    • The image of God found in Isaiah
  • Week 3: Jeremiah
    • The basic message of Jeremiah to the Kingdom of Judah in the 7th Century BCE as well as how his message might be appropriated in the 21st C
    • The meaning of terms like “repentance” and “new covenant”
    • The importance of King Josiah and his national and religious reforms
    • The personal difficulties--both emotionally and physically--of being a Hebrew prophet
    • The social message of Jeremiah
    • The image of God found in Jeremiah
  • Week 4: Ezekiel
    • The basic message of Ezekiel
    • What it means that individuals are now responsible for their own sins and fate
    • The political message of the Ezekiel and the other prophets
    • The battle between Yahweh and the Canaanite deity Baal
    • The social message of Ezekiel
    • The image of God found in Ezekiel
  • Week 5: The Book of the Twelve
    • The basic messages of the remaining twelve prophets
    • What it means to live a righteous and holy life
    • The message of Amos
    • The disturbing message of Habakkuk
    • The image of God found in The Book of the Twelve