2022 / 08 / 07 (Sun.)

[Rescheduled] The Hebrew Bible: Topics in Modern Research

Religion and Global Security Division of RCAST, the University of Tokyo will organize a three-day intensive course by Dr. Naphtali Shumel Meshel on the Hebrew Bible.

Dr. Naphtali S. Meshel is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Bible and the Department of Comparative Religion of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Dr. Meshel will be visiting Tokyo in September-October 2022, under the JSPS Invitation Fellowship for Research in Japan program. His planned visit and lectures in January-February this year have been postponed.

The Religion and Global Security Division of RCAST welcomes Dr. Meshel's rescheduled visit and invites scholars of this field in Japan to this invaluable lecture course.

Intensive Introductory Course
The Hebrew Bible: Topics in Modern Research
Lecturer: Dr. Naphtali Shmuel Meshel, Senior Lecturer, Department of Bible and the Department of Comparative Religion of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Date: September 15, 2022  10:30-16:30
            September 22, 2022  10:30-16:30
            September 29, 2022   10:30-16:30

*Format: This intensive course is a hybrid event, both in-person and online.
*RSVP: For participation, please contact Dr. Koji Yamashiro (

Course Description
This course is intended for Japanese academic audiences interested in the religions of the ancient Israelites, Judaism, and comparative religion. It aims to introduce attendees to the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") in its ancient Near Eastern setting. Key concepts often associated with the Hebrew Bible, such as God, sin, history and redemption will be examined through a careful reading of a selection of Biblical texts. Particular attention will be paid to questions of authorship—possible dating, social settings, and original audiences; and to transformations that the texts underwent through a continuous process of transmission and interpretation.

NOTE: The course is an introductory-intermediate course; no previous knowledge of the subject is expected or assumed.

At the conclusion of this intensive course, participants should
• Be able to offer a clear account of the general contents of the books of the Hebrew Bible
• Be acquainted with the ways in which the Biblical texts were formed and transmitted
• Have a clear understanding of the main historical processes that shaped the Israelite communities in the first millennium B.C.E.
• Be familiar with key concepts reflected in the books of the Hebrew Bible

The primary text used in the course is the Hebrew Bible (in English translation) according to the following two editions:
*NOAB The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version With The Apocrypha (Fully Revised Fourth Edition; ed. Michael D. Coogan; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).
*JSB The Jewish Study Bible (ed. Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
Students may consult one of the Japanese translations.

[Course Schedule]

Day One: The Pentateuch (Thur. Sep 15, 2022)

(1) Myth and Narrative (10:30-12:00)
Genesis 1–4
1. Bernard M. Levinson, “The Seductions of the Garden and the Genesis of Hemeneutics as Critique” in “The Right Chorale”: Studies in Biblical Law and Interpretation (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2011) 40–47.
2. Erich Auerbach, “Odysseus’ Scar,” translated by W.R. Trask, in Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (Princeton: University Press, 2003) 3–23.

(2) Law (13:00-14:30)
Exodus 21–23, Deuteronomy 15
1. Moshe Greenberg, “Some Postulates of Biblical Criminal Law,” in: Studies in the Bible and Jewish Thought (Philadelphia: JPS, 1995) 25–41.
2. Moshe Weinfeld, from: Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic Law (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972).

(3) The Documentary Hypothesis (15:00-16:30)
Genesis 6–9
1. Richard Elliott Friedman, “Torah” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (sections B., “Literary History” and C., “Views of Authorship”) 608–619.
2. James Kugel, How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now (New York: Free Press, 2007) 261–279, 286–295.

Day Two: Priests, Judges, Kings and Prophets (Thur. Sep. 22, 2022)

(4) Priests: The Systems of Sacrifice and Purity (10:30-12:00)
Leviticus 1–4; 11–12
1. Jacob Milgrom, “The Priestly ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’,” RB 83 (1976) 390–99.
2. Mary Douglas, “The Abominations of Leviticus,” Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge, 22002) 41–57.

(5) Historiography (13:00-14:30)
2 Kings 22–23:30, 2 Chronicles 34–35
1. Sara Japhet, from: The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2014).
2. Leo Strauss, “Persecution and the Art of Writing” in: Persecution and the Art of Writing  (Chicago: University Press, 1952) 22–37.

(6) Prophecy: The Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets (15:00-16:30)
Isaiah 6; Ezekiel 1–4; 17–20
1. Baruch J. Schwartz, “Repentance and Determinism in Ezekiel,” Proceedings of the Eleventh Congress in Jewish Studies (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 1994) 123–130.
2. Frank Kermode, “Hoti’s Business: Why are Narratives Obscure,” in: The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative (Harvard: University Press, 1979) 23–47.

Day Three: Poetry, Wisdom, and Tales (Thur. Sep. 22, 2022)

(7) Psalms and Song of Songs (10:30-12:00)
Psalm 82; Song of Songs
1. James Kugel, from: The Idea of Biblical Poetry
2. Jan Assmann, from: The Price of Monotheism (Stanford: University Press, 2010).
3. Ilana Pardes, Song of Song: A Biography (Lives of Great Religious Books; Princeton: University Press, 2019).

(8) Wisdom Literature (13:00-14:30)
Ecclesiastes; selection from Proverbs, Job
1. Marvin V. Fox, “Frame-Narrative and Composition in the Book of Kohelet,” Hebrew Union College Annual 48 (1977) 83–106.
2. Scott B. Noegel, from: “Wordplay” in Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Ancient Near East Monographs, 26; SBL: Atlanta, 2021).

(9) Scribes, Apocalypses and the “Canonization” of the Hebrew Bible (15:00-16:30)
1. Michael Fishbane, “Inner-Biblical Exegesis”, in M. Sæbø (ed.) Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996) 1.33–48.
2. Marc Zvi Brettler, “The Canonization of the Bible”, in The Jewish Study Bible (ed. Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) 2072–2077.

Lecturer's Short Bio
Naphtali Meshel joined the Department of Bible and the Department of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2016. His research focuses on the Hebrew Bible in its ancient Near Eastern contexts, and on its early interpreters. Within the broader study of religion, he has a particular interest in Sanskrit literature. His first book, The Grammar of Sacrifice, examines the ancient intuition that sacrificial rituals, like languages, are governed by “grammars.” His research interests include ancient models for the “science of ritual”; systems of pollution and purification; and mechanisms of double entendre in Wisdom Literature. He previously taught at the Moscow State University for the Humanities and at Princeton University.