Old Testament exegesis II

The objective of this course is to present exegetical problems pertinent to the prophetical literature of the Old Testament. Prophetical texts were often composed in poetic forms. With its peculiar vocabulary and in most cases specific linguistic structures, prophecy forms a distinctive type of literature in the Bible. In poetry we often deal with shorter pericopes that were composed independently from each other. These independent units were subsequently brought together by redactors in larger collections and books. As a consequence, the final forms of these texts superimpose several rhetorical and theological strata. Accordingly, the analysis of these texts takes its start from the final form and digs deeper towards recovering earlier meanings of the individual subunits.

As a case study, this course is concerned with the Book of Habakkuk in particular, which was composed probably sometime during the 6th century B.C. This prophetic book is connected to an era of utmost significance for Judah and its inhabitants. During this century the identity of its people is challanged by several important historical changes, such as the collapse of temple and society. But it was also the era of a national revival during which the ancient literary heritage of Judah was collected and reevaluated. The Book of Habakkuk illustrates well how this process of rereading opens up new questions for the interpretation. The course begins with an overview of the scholarship on Habakkuk, highlighting the main problems pertinent to this book, which shall be more closely dealt with when analysing the individual pericopes.


Specific competences

The course aims to develop the following competences:
  • the student is able to translate any text of the Hebrew Bible with the help of dictionaries, and interpret it with the help of the known exegetical methods;
  • the student is aware of the compositional history of the Book of Habakkuk;
  • understands the problems related to the history of composition, as well as their relevance for its interpretation;
  • the student is able to visually outline the logical structure of a complex biblical text;
  • is able to define the main line of thought and interpret the inner relationship of the sentences;
  • perceives the importance of genre and rhetorical features for the interpretation of a biblical text;
  • the student is able to localise the theological message of a particular pericope in the wider context of the Old Testament and the Bible.

General competences

In a more general sense, the course will contribute to develop the students ability:
  • to interpret a complex text;
  • to define the main line of thought of a text;
  • to identify the rhetorical features used by an author to convey a certain message;
  • to recognise factors playing a role in the history of the biblical text;
  • to take a critical stance towards texts, as well as its ancient or modern interpretations.

Total estimated time

Classroom study Course Seminar Practice
2 hours/week 2 0 0
28 hours/semester 28 0 0
Individual study Hours/sem
Total estimated time 126
Studying course notes and bibliography 48
Further documentation in libraries, electronic platforms, or on the field 48
Preparing essays, papers, or documentation 0
Personal tutoring 2
Total individual study 98


The student is required to prepare and analyse the grammar and semantics of the Hebrew text of the pericope to be discussed during the courses (preparation). At the end of the course a final exam will be taken. The final mark is composed by regular preparatory activity (20%) and the final exam (80%).



Journal article

Book article