Topics in the Bible and Ancient Near East:

The number of “psychic shops” that we find in our modern cities tells of the fascination that the future holds for us, in particular one’s own. And perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the oldest texts known to us pertain to this human endeavor: trying to find out about the future, often with the intention of adjusting one’s own handling in order to avoid an unfavorable outcome. In Ancient Mesopotamia, corresponding by and large to what is now Iraq, diviners developed querying for and interpreting ominous signs into a specialist discipline, with its rules, treatises, and experts. Types of oracular consultation included the examination of the entrails of animals, the movement of oil on water, dreams, and various occurrences in urban and rural life. While the main focus of this course will be on Mesopotamia, we will also examine ancient divinatory and prophetic practice in other cultures that have left textual evidence of it, and endeavor to identify commonalities and differences.

Topics in the Bible and the Ancient Near East offers a range of particular subjects. These vary by term. This course engages the reality that the Bible pervades public media and discourse even where it is not named or acknowledged. The ultimate interest of the course is the Bible itself, how it is read (or not read, but still used) today in relation to the purposes and contexts of its writing in ancient time.






Fall 2020

Odette Boivin
MW: 8:00 AM - 9:15 AM 25W4 C-13