Prophet Isaiah by Antonio Balestra (1666-1740)

Course Description

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 64) states, “Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.” In this course, students will be exposed to the key literary and historical issues involved in the study of the prophetic literature of the Old Testament. This course will explore the key tenants of Old Testament eschatological hopes – hopes for a Messiah, a new Creation, a new Exodus, a new Kingdom and a new Temple.

Reading the prophetic literature within its historical context is crucial for the proper interpretation of the text. To achieve this, students will learn about the historical situations facing the kingdoms of Judah and Israel in the eighth through to the sixth centuries B.C. Students will discover the significance of the Covenant to the Israelite people and how obedience or disobedience to the covenant affects the course of history. Through the eyes of the prophets, this course will look at historical events such as the Assyrian invasion of Israel in 722 B.C., and the destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian Exile in 586 B.C.

In this six week course, amongst other things, we will cover some of the high-points of the prophetic literature: Hosea’s use of nuptial imagery to describe God’s relationship with his people (Hos 2); Jeremiah’s promise of the new covenant (Jer 31); Isaiah’s Servant Songs (Isa 42, 49, 50, 52-3); Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezek 37); the New Exodus imagery of Isaiah (Isa 40); and the apocalyptic visions of the writing on the wall and the Son of Man in Daniel (Dan 7).

Finally, students will come to see how the advent of Christ, his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, and his sending of the Holy Spirit fulfil the eschatological hopes of the Old Testament Prophets.

Course Objectives

  1. To understand the historical events behind the prophetic literature.
  2. To understand how obedience and disobedience to the social and cultic prescriptions of the Covenant impacted the course of Israel’s history.
  3. To recognise the centrality of the Temple and its cult, and the Kingdom in the prophetic literature.
  4. To see how the eschatological hopes of the prophets are fulfilled in the life, works, and teaching of Jesus Christ and his Church.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Texts Recommended for Purchase by Course Participants:

Kaiser, Walter, The Messiah in the Old Testament (Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995).

Popular Level Reading:

Brueggemann, Walter. An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

Chisholm, Robert B. Handbook on the Prophets (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009).

VanderKam, James and Peter Flint. The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 2004).

McConville, J. Gordon . Exploring the Old Testament: A Guide to the Prophets (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002).

Thematic Works for this Course:

Achtemeier, Paul J. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 1999.

Béchard, Dean P. ed. and trans. The Scripture Documents: An Anthology of Official Catholic Teachings. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002.

Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981.

Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Homebush: St Pauls, 1994.

_____. The Historicity of the Gospels: Instruction of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1964.

_____. The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church: Address of His Holiness John Paul II and Document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Boston: St Paul Books and Media, 1993.

_____. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, vol. 1. Edited by Austin Flannery. New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1996.

Dauphinais, Michael and Matthew Levering. Holy People, Holy Land: A Theological Introduction to the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.

Farkasfalvy, Denis. Inspiration and Interpretation: A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scripture. Washington DC. The Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

Geisler, Norman L. and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011.

Hahn, Scott. A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture. Michigan: Servant Publications, 1998.

_____. A Pocket Guide to the Bible. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Division, 2008.

_____. Scripture Matters: Essays on Reading the Bible from the Heart of the Church. Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road, 2003.

Shea, Mark P. Making Senses out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did. San Diego: Basilica Press, 1999.

Sri, Edward. The Bible Compass: A Catholic’s Guide to Navigating the Scriptures. West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2009.

Stravinskas, Peter M.J. The Catholic Church and the Bible. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996.

Twelfree, Graham H. Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study. Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. (ed.) Theological Interpretation of the New Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005, 2008.

_____. (ed.) Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005, 2008.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Bird, Michael F. Are You the One Who Is To Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

Blenkinsopp, A History of Prophecy in Israel. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983.

Chester, Andrew Messiah and Exaltation. Wissenschafltliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 207. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007.

Chisholm, Robert B. Handbook on the Prophets (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009).

Collins, John. The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient literature. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1995.

Collins, John and George W. E. Nickelsburg, eds. Ideal Figures in Ancient Judaism: Profiles and Paradigms. Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1980.

Heinisch, Paul. Christ in Prophecy. Trans. by W. G. Heidt. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1956.

Klausner, Joseph. The Messianic Ideal in Israel. Translated by W. F. Stinespring. New York: MacMillan, Co., 1955.

Koch, Klaus. The Prophets: The Assyrian Period, Vol. 1 (Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press, 1983).

____. The Prophets: The Babylonian and Persian Periods, Vol. 2 (Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press, 1984).

Laato, Antti. A Star is Rising: The Historical Development of the Old Testament Royal Ideology and the Rise of the Jewish Messianic Expectations. University of South Florida, International Studies in Formative Christianity and Judaism; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997.

Miura, Yuzuru. David in Luke-Acts. Wissenschafltliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/232. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

Mowinckel, Sigmund. He That Cometh: The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism. Nashville: Abingdon, 1956.

Petersen, D.L. “Defining Prophecy and Prophetic Literature.” Pages 33–44 in Prophecy in Its Ancient Near Eastern Context: Mesopotamian, biblical, and Arabian Perspectives. Edited by M. Nissinen. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000.

_____. The Roles of Israel’s Prophets. Sheffield: JSOT, 1981.

Robertson, O. Palmer. The Christ of the Prophets. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2004.

Scott, James H, ed. Restoration: Old Testament, Jewish, and Christian Perspectives. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 72. Leiden: Brill, 2001.

Stacey, David W. Prophetic Drama in the Old Testament. London: Epworth, 1990.

Strauss, Mark L. The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts: The Promise and Its Fulfillment in Lukan Christology. JSNTSup 110. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

VanGemeren, Willem A. Interpreting the Prophetic Word: An Introduction to the Prophetic Literature of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.

Scholarly Journal Articles:

Balentine, S. E. “The Prophet as Intercessor.” Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (1984): 161–73.

Bergsma, John. “The Persian Period as Penitential Era: The ‘Exegetical Logic’ of Daniel 9.1–27” in Exile and Restoration Revisited: Essays in Memory of Peter R. Ackroyd (ed. G. Knoppers and L. Grabbe; Library of Second Temple Studies 73; Continuum/T & T Clark, 2009).

_____. “Cultic Kingdoms in Conflict in the Book of Daniel,” in Letter & Spirit 5 (2009): 51–76.

Dunn, James. “The Danielic Son of Man in the New Testament,” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception (2 vols.; J. J. Collins and P. W. Flint, eds.; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 2: 528–49.

Evans, Craig. “Daniel in the New Testament: Visions of God’s Kingdom,” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception (2 vols.; J. J. Collins and P. W. Flint, eds.; Leiden: Brill, 2001), 2: 490–527.

Fletcher-Louis, Crispin H. T. “Jesus, the Temple and the Dissolution of Heaven and Earth,” in Apocalyptic in History and Tradition (Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement 43; C. Rowland and J. Barton, eds.; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003), 117–41.

McKnight, Scot. “Jesus and Prophetic Actions.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 10/2 (2000): 201-205.

Stacey, David W. “The Lord’s Supper as Prophetic Drama,” Epworth Review 21 (1994): 65–74.