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Biblical Study Break: The Book of Judges: Exploring its Meanings
- Course Dates: Mon 2 February 2015, 1:00 pm to Thu 5 February 2015, 2:00 pm
The book of Judges is about judges who do not appear to judge, a community which ceases to be a community, who choose gods which are not gods, in a land that is ostensibly theirs but which they cannot fully possess.
It is an account of people who gradually but inexorably lose direction, conscience and humanity. Judges is a bridge of nothing that spans two somethings – theocracy (or hierocracy) and monarchy. It is the dark night between two days, with powerful resonances for post-modern society. The long-accepted scholarly view is that Judges forms part of the ‘deuteronomic history’ comprising the books of Joshua through Kings. Accordingly, it contains fragments of tribal tradition edited into a coherent work during the Judaic exile or later.
We will examine this theory and test its adequacy in explaining the text. In the process, we will probe the relationship of Judges to all five books of the Pentateuch, not only Deuteronomy. What does the peculiar literary structure of Judges indicate and what is the meaning of the markedly diverse characters of the judges themselves? We will explore wider questions of the Hebrew worldview within the extraordinarily rich and ancient cultural environment projected by Assyria/Babylonia and, finally, consider the implications of our findings for interpreting the Old Testament more generally. We will explore the subject area through a mixture of face-to-face teaching; group discussion; and question and answer sessions.