Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Jack Weinbender

M.A.R.; Emmanuel Christian Seminary B.A.; Johnson University,

Jack Weinbender



Hebrew Bible, Linguistics, Comparative Semantics, & Language Pedagogy


MEL 321 • Before The Bible

41610 • Fall 2017
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM MEZ 1.118
(also listed as J S 363, MES 342, R S 365)

This course is an introduction to the literature, history, and religion of the ancient Near East for the purpose of understanding the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The course will survey the geography, history, and literature of ancient Mesopotamia (Assyria, Babylon) and the Levant (Ugarit, Phoenicia, Israel) giving special attention to people, places, and themes, which are relevant to understanding the Hebrew Bible in its historical milieu. During the course, students will acquire skills that will allow them to compare and synthesize this information with the biblical text and material culture of ancient Israel. All primary and secondary readings will be in English. The first half of the course will focus on primary texts (in English translation) from Mesopotamia and Ugarit, representing the period before the “biblical period”; the second half of the course will focus on the topic of Israelite Religion(s), and how it fit into its broader culture and time.



  • Bible (The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, Oxford University Press.
  • OR: HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Harper One.)
  • Smith, Mark S. The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2002.
  • Dalley, Stephanie. Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford University Press; Revised ed. 2009.
  • Schneider, Tammi J. An Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2011. Coogan, Michael and Mark Smith. Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition. Westminster John Knox Press, 2012.


  • Five elective assignments 50% (10% each) (response papers, maps, digital or creative projects, etc.)
  • Participation 10%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Final 20%

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    The University of Texas at Austin
    204 W 21st Street Stop F9400
    Calhoun Hall (CAL) 528
    Austin, TX 78712