The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future

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10/10 stars
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The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future

Course Details

Cost

FREE

Upcoming Schedule

  • On demand

Course Provider

Coursera online courses
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with yo...
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with your coursework. Coursera also partners with the US State Department to create “learning hubs” around the world. Students can get internet access, take courses, and participate in weekly in-person study groups to make learning even more collaborative. Begin your journey into the mysteries of the human brain by taking courses in neuroscience. Learn how to navigate the data infrastructures that multinational corporations use when you discover the world of data analysis. Follow one of Coursera’s “Skill Tracks”. Or try any one of its more than 560 available courses to help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4629 reviews

Course Description

How and why was the Bible written? Drawing on the latest archeological research and a wide range of comparative texts, this course synthesizes fascinating recent research in biblical studies and presents a powerful new thesis: Facing catastrophic defeat, the biblical authors created a new form of community—what today we would call "peoplehood." Their achievements bear directly on modern questions of politics, economics, and theology.
Reviews 10/10 stars
17 Reviews for The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future

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Ricardo Teixeira profile image
Ricardo Teixeira profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 86 reviews
  • 77 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
If you're interested in history, this is a great course for you. I was kind of apprehensive in the beginning, since it deals with religion. In reality, I was very pleasantly surprised with the tone of the course. The lectures are neutral and balanced. This is about History, not Theology. It presents an overview of the way the jewish Bible was produced, the reasons behind it and the society of the time, as well as what we can learn and take away from it. There are very few negatives. Maybe the course could be a bit longer (6 weeks is nothing). Maybe the quizzes could be a bit more challenging - a peer- reviewed assessment could help. There is mandatory forum participation worth 5% of the grade, which I hate - in courses such as this you really need to stay away from the forum (which is true always, but courses involving religious topics make particularly irritating and worthless forum discussions). Finally, I personally felt a bit lo... If you're interested in history, this is a great course for you. I was kind of apprehensive in the beginning, since it deals with religion. In reality, I was very pleasantly surprised with the tone of the course. The lectures are neutral and balanced. This is about History, not Theology. It presents an overview of the way the jewish Bible was produced, the reasons behind it and the society of the time, as well as what we can learn and take away from it. There are very few negatives. Maybe the course could be a bit longer (6 weeks is nothing). Maybe the quizzes could be a bit more challenging - a peer- reviewed assessment could help. There is mandatory forum participation worth 5% of the grade, which I hate - in courses such as this you really need to stay away from the forum (which is true always, but courses involving religious topics make particularly irritating and worthless forum discussions). Finally, I personally felt a bit lost in the segments sometimes; sometimes I felt the narrative in the lecture wasn't very clear. However, the course is so good that these negatives are pretty small if you look at the big picture. I couldn't recommend this course more if this is a topic that appeals to you.
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Doug Jantz profile image
Doug Jantz profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
I will highly recommend this course to others when offered again.  The material is that which many need to know for a greater understanding of the Bible in its own setting and origins.  Much of this was new to me and the reading recommendations were priceless as were all the class videos.  Dr Wright has hit a home run in my opinion and I am sure future courses from him will be even more so.  Thanks!!!
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Catherine Girard profile image
Catherine Girard profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
I wrote an earlier review, but it has not come up on the posts. I thought this course was excellent. The content was well-planned and structured, and the presentation was smooth. My goal was initially to learn and that was amply met. I would encourage anyone with an interest in Old Testament writings to take this course. I hope it is offered again on coursera.org, and I hope Dr. Wright offers another course someday on the same site, as well. Thank you for sharing your time and expertise with us, Dr. Wright!
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 4 months ago
I loved this course and wished that it could have continued long past the last lecture and interview. I finished the class wanting to know more about the ideas that were presented in Dr Wright's lectures and to continue interacting with the many thoughtful students who posted on the discussion forum. I appreciated the Facebook page that was created for the class as this gave us another venue for talking about the many threads of conversation the course materials sparked.  I would definitely recommend this course.
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Marcel Vilarós profile image
Marcel Vilarós profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
Great course, and great teacher. My favourite thing about this course is its well graduated difficulty. Lectures are well introduced and quite interesting, complemented with optional interviews with interesting people in the field. Besides that, the more complete material is always optional, suggested readings an similar suggestions, and not counting as a final grade. Try it.
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 4 months ago
Excellent and varied. I especially enjoyed the quizzes but found the discussion forum not for me, however I did enjoy reading and considering the content of the discussion personally and with friends. More of the same kind of courses on this and related topics would be good. New Testament, Theology, expanding this course, etc.
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Green Sleeves profile image
Green Sleeves profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
Speaking as a history nerd, I can tell you that this class was really eye- opening. I learned so much more about the Levant and the ppl living there during biblical times that it really put into perspective as to why the bible is so very important to everyone, not just true believers of the faith. I dare you not to love this class!
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Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 4 months ago
Absolutely fantastic course, with lots of concrete names, dates, historical events PLUS a thought-provoking and original thesis about the origins of the Bible and the lessons that can help us today from knowing more about its construction. Video lectures are very well produced, the material is clear and parceled out in just-right blocks, and the professor has a really engaging presence. He also includes several interviews with some wonderful experts who shed light on some additional angles of the subject. Dr. Wright went the extra mile by having an active presence in the discussion forum, the Facebook group, and by holding "office hours" via Google Hangout. He fostered a positive and fun atmosphere in which we developed into a true learning community in the Facebook group. This course will meet you where you are, whether you're a newbie or a theology pro. It is accessible to all yet stretches your capacity to learn history and to gra... Absolutely fantastic course, with lots of concrete names, dates, historical events PLUS a thought-provoking and original thesis about the origins of the Bible and the lessons that can help us today from knowing more about its construction. Video lectures are very well produced, the material is clear and parceled out in just-right blocks, and the professor has a really engaging presence. He also includes several interviews with some wonderful experts who shed light on some additional angles of the subject. Dr. Wright went the extra mile by having an active presence in the discussion forum, the Facebook group, and by holding "office hours" via Google Hangout. He fostered a positive and fun atmosphere in which we developed into a true learning community in the Facebook group. This course will meet you where you are, whether you're a newbie or a theology pro. It is accessible to all yet stretches your capacity to learn history and to grapple with important ideas. Challenges any preconceived easy notions about the Bible and ends with a rewarding and inspiring message.
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Claire Bennett profile image
Claire Bennett profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
What was your prior experience with the subject? Mostly independent study from a variety of sources. No formal academic background in this area. I have been taking MOOCs for a little less than a year and usually end up taking three at a time. I know MOOCs have only been around for a few years, but I feel, "Where have you been all my life?" Here is a free, all-you-can-learn buffet that only a fraction of the online population is even aware of. How does this course compare to others? Lots of information that is understandable to a person who lacks background, but still eye-opening to one who has background in this discipline. Clear, organized presentation and excellent guest lectures added to the course. Nominated for Best-dressed Coursera professor :) by his Facebook audience. I hope to see a sequel. Perhaps this course should be in clinical trials for treatment of bibliophobia, the fear of approaching or appreciating biblical literat... What was your prior experience with the subject? Mostly independent study from a variety of sources. No formal academic background in this area. I have been taking MOOCs for a little less than a year and usually end up taking three at a time. I know MOOCs have only been around for a few years, but I feel, "Where have you been all my life?" Here is a free, all-you-can-learn buffet that only a fraction of the online population is even aware of. How does this course compare to others? Lots of information that is understandable to a person who lacks background, but still eye-opening to one who has background in this discipline. Clear, organized presentation and excellent guest lectures added to the course. Nominated for Best-dressed Coursera professor :) by his Facebook audience. I hope to see a sequel. Perhaps this course should be in clinical trials for treatment of bibliophobia, the fear of approaching or appreciating biblical literature and exploring its meaning as well as historical and modern significance. Maybe the next course should be, "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Bible?" What did you like/dislike about the course? I really like the fact that an enthusiastic community has formed around this class, and Dr. Wright is interested in being engaged with his students, more than I have experienced in any Coursera or edX that I have taken. If Dr. Wright ever led a tour or dig to the historical sites, it would make an incredible MOOC offering. I think the course might be improved by adding an optional related assignment that is peer-reviewed, like another course I took. I would have liked to have participated in the Google hangout, but must have missed seeing this posted until the following day.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 4 months ago
This was my first Coursera course, and I really loved the wonderful ideas presented and the very eloquent presentation. Professor Wright knows his stuff and is an engaging presenter. He was able to present his views on a complex subject clearly and convincingly. He also took the time to include several real-time meetings on google hangouts, and to engage with students through a facebook group set up for the course. All of this made it possible for a huge number of students from all over the world to interact online and form a community centered around the course. An altogether enriching experience!
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Red Schonewille profile image
Red Schonewille profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
viewed lectures and ook quizes
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Donna Bridges profile image
Donna Bridges profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 3 reviews
  • 3 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
Really enjoyed course! I came into this class knowing very little and really had a better understanding of the Hebrew Bible after taking this class.
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Karen Ashley Greenstone profile image
Karen Ashley Greenstone profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future, taught by Professor Jacob L. Wright of Emory University for Coursera, is absolutely fantastic. Before going into this course, I knew a fair amount about the Bible, but this course gave me a whole new perspective on the Bible. Professor Wright's lectures were clear, well organized, packed with interesting information, and highly engaging. Professor Wright's passion for his subject came through strongly -- and was contagious! Besides his own lectures, Professor Wright frequently included interviews with other experts in areas related to our studies, adding other engaging voices to his own. Professor Wright also frequently interacted with us students through a weekly Office Hours video, through Google Hang-Out sessions, and through frequent interactions on the class Facebook page. Professor Wright also included a wealth of supplemental reading material for further study. This was a ... The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future, taught by Professor Jacob L. Wright of Emory University for Coursera, is absolutely fantastic. Before going into this course, I knew a fair amount about the Bible, but this course gave me a whole new perspective on the Bible. Professor Wright's lectures were clear, well organized, packed with interesting information, and highly engaging. Professor Wright's passion for his subject came through strongly -- and was contagious! Besides his own lectures, Professor Wright frequently included interviews with other experts in areas related to our studies, adding other engaging voices to his own. Professor Wright also frequently interacted with us students through a weekly Office Hours video, through Google Hang-Out sessions, and through frequent interactions on the class Facebook page. Professor Wright also included a wealth of supplemental reading material for further study. This was a great gift! The level of posts in the Discussion Forum was usually sophisticated and thoughtful. With a topic related to the Bible, there will always be some students who are insistent on promoting their religious views, but this was kept to a minimum and I found that this contingent actually diminished as the course progressed. When I see that Professor Wright is offering another Coursera course, I will want to Jump to take it! A huge thank-you to Professor Wright!
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Jannie Trouwborst-van Oostrum profile image
Jannie Trouwborst-van Oostrum profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
I am Dutch, so because of that the course took for me probably more time than other (English) students. But the spoken lectures were also available as written text, which helped a lot. Prof. Wright is very enthusiastic and can make all the stuff clear, for everyone, even the ones that have never read a bible before (like me). When necessary he told were we could find the Biblical stuff. And as the Bible is translated in all languages I easily could find those online in Dutch. So no experience with the subject is needed. It is my first course so I cannot compare, only hope that the next ones can match up with this one. It has been a very interesting and a fantastic experience. I liked that there was a lot of extra literature-advices given, there was a well structured forum and a closed Facebookgroup that made most of the members feel as if they were a group of friends. The only thing that was sometimes disturbing were people that try ... I am Dutch, so because of that the course took for me probably more time than other (English) students. But the spoken lectures were also available as written text, which helped a lot. Prof. Wright is very enthusiastic and can make all the stuff clear, for everyone, even the ones that have never read a bible before (like me). When necessary he told were we could find the Biblical stuff. And as the Bible is translated in all languages I easily could find those online in Dutch. So no experience with the subject is needed. It is my first course so I cannot compare, only hope that the next ones can match up with this one. It has been a very interesting and a fantastic experience. I liked that there was a lot of extra literature-advices given, there was a well structured forum and a closed Facebookgroup that made most of the members feel as if they were a group of friends. The only thing that was sometimes disturbing were people that try to make a dispute about beliefs. However: this was not tolerated and there was a team of reviewers that try to stop this as soon as possible. Best way was to ignore those people, as this was no the the subject of this course. There were also made available maps of the area, timetables. The only thing I missed was an overview of the Biblical parts that were handy to read. But you can do that by yourself too, as they are regulary mentioned. I hope very much that Dr. Wright has in the future another course for us. This one ended by the impact the Bible can have: Beyond religion (as the title of the Dalai Lama's book says). For me this course changed my view at all sorts of events, as well as nearby, as globally. It enriched my life!
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Johanna Yaffe profile image
Johanna Yaffe profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 3 reviews
  • 2 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
This course was excellent. The content was superb and the Professor was brilliant. I would not only recommend this course to others, but I have already shared some of the things I've learnt with friends and family. I would love to take more courses with Professor Wright about this topic and be able to delve into the subject in more depth.
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Susan Love profile image
Susan Love profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
This course was the best yet! Dr Wright is a consummate professional and he strove to give us all his attention and expertise.  5 stars! I wanted to learn more about the history of the Bible, and I learned so much more than I knew there was to learn. Thank you to Dr Wright. Also the Google hangouts was a great addition to the class. I would recommend this course to anyone.
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Daniel N. Gullotta profile image
Daniel N. Gullotta profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 3 reviews
  • 3 completed
4 years, 4 months ago
This course was amazing! The Course's discussion was always lively and engaging, and each of the videos presented each week was full of great historical insights into the Bible, the ancient history of Israel and Judah, as well as the religion and people that would later become Judaism. I cannot recommend this class highly enough to people who have a fascination with the history of the ancient world and the birth of the Bible. A truly outstanding course!
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