Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures PARTS 3 and 4 (October-December 2020)

Our 2020 fourth quarter study group will complete the overview of the Old Testament we have been working through this year, utilising some excellent online lectures and materials from Christine Hayes at Yale University. These lectures provide a solid introduction to the OT as a whole as well as an introduction to critical historical work done on the OT over the last two centuries.

The material for each week is given on the ‘Illuminating Faith’ links here, the first five weeks’ material in Part 3 and the final weeks’ material in part 4:

Illuminating Faith – PART 3 of Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

Illuminating Faith – PART 4 of Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures

The version of the transcript Yale provided here is reformatted for printing, with added paragraph numbers for reference in our discussions. (The original lecture series and its associated resources can be found here. The ‘Sessions’ tab brings up the full list of lectures, and clicking on each brings up the video, text and any other resources (occasional handouts, etc.) relating to that session.)


There are two groups running; feel free to shift around between groups as you need to! The groups will again meet via the ZOOM video conferencing platform. The Wednesday group will meet at 7.45pm via Zoom (starting October 7), and the Friday group via Zoom at 1.30pm (starting October 9) . If you are not already on the reading group list or have not otherwise received the meeting link, you can request it here: <>. Meetings will be open a few minutes before the start time for you to check your connection. For info about setting up Zoom, see here.

Preparing for the discussions

Prior to each session, watch the lecture via the links below, or read the transcript. There is also an audio-only version of the lectures available on the Yale course homepage under the ‘Sessions’ tab — click on the session you want and the audio can be downloaded at the bottom of the session page. For most sessions there is a section of biblical text which it would be helpful to read in conjunction with Hayes’ lectures, and usually a reference to the Jewish Study Bible (JSB) which will assist those who have a copy.

A book companion to the series as a whole, which some might consider buying, is The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition. It is not exactly cheap – being around $AU65 new. As well as providing a Jewish reading of the Hebrew Bible, it has a great deal of comment in the margins of each page as well as introductory essays to each of the Old Testament books and scholarly articles on history, interpretation, and so forth. It is a book which will likely serve purchasers well for a long time. A look at the ‘Look Inside’ feature for the book on Amazon might be worthwhile, if you’re considering getting a copy. See here for a range of online sources for this book.