Jacob Wright’s course, week two

Last week I offered some first impressions of Jacob Wright’s excellent MOOC The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future.

The second week’s lecture material has been interesting for two strikingly different reasons. Jacob presents a mediating view between “Minimalists” and “Maximalists”, sensibly taking the best ideas and arguments from both “sides”. Though many conservative viewers will feel in this week’s that he is too ready to ditch the Bible’s account in favour of alternative ways to explain the archaeological data. And therein lies the rub, for although usually careful to present the evidence and arguments that underlie his presentation [my impression was that] here and there at key points the viewer is asked to accept a scholarly consensus or the views of a few named scholars without the evidence being presented. [ Inaccurate example deleted, see comments below.]

The interviews with three scholars about their work on Assyrian imperial intentions, the lemelek seals and the Judean Pillar Figures were excellent at presenting data and reasoning.

I understand that in such a brief course one cannot argue and present evidence for every point, but I suspect that the lectures would carry more people with them if there had been time to lay the foundations more solidly.

For me the formal issue raises questions about my own teaching.

Comments

comments

4 comments on “Jacob Wright’s course, week two

  1. Jacob Wright

    I was trying very much, especially in the supplemental videos, to present some of the data. I don’t recall making the claim that Judah had more freedom as an Assyrian vassal. I would have to ask you think about the claim. Most certainly the seventh century is the highest level of prosperity in Judah’s history.
    Once again I would do many things differently if I were to do it today. Many shorter exercises with primary data and interactive discussions. In week three I try to do that with the evidence from Elephantine and from Mesopotamia in the Persian period. As well as with an actual text that I analyze with the class.
    Thanks for these good critiques though!

  2. tim

    Jacob, now I’ll have to go back to the video and try to spot what gave me that impression, what a great way to ensure students really study the material ;)

    I am sure that if I were doing such a course there would be many things I’d like to have done differently, but constraints of time (both for delivery and preparation) make many difficuklt or impossible. I did try to show that this was not a criticism of the kind that says what you “ought” to have done, but rather one that says “it would have been even better if he could have”. I think the close of the post does say this:
    “I understand that in such a brief course one cannot argue and present evidence for every point, but I suspect that the lectures would carry more people with them if there had been time to lay the foundations more solidly.
    For me the formal issue raises questions about my own teaching.”
    I did not say it in the post above, but I was very impressed with the handling of Gen 26 and the issues of source criticism etc. in week three. There is so much that is excellent and I’m not aiming for a thorough review, rather some personal reflections.

  3. tim

    Sorry, that was a bad example, on relistening you (I think) did explain clearly the evidence in that case. (My impression may well have been wrong, I apologise, I will rewrite the post above so it is more accurate.

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