Fall 2018

PLUS276

Exodus: The Foundational Story of Jewish Tradition (55+)

Why is the story of the Exodus from Egypt so central to Jewish tradition and belief? What evidence is there, outside of the Bible, that the Exodus took place? How is the story preserved and lived today? The second book of the Bible, and its celebrated stories about Moses, the escape from Egypt and God’s revelation to Moses, remain popular to this day.

Together we will explore biblical texts, rabbinic legends and various source theories about the key figures and events in the Exodus saga to gain a deeper understanding of this foundational story of the Jewish people.

Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2015.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Lindsey bat Joseph $115.00 37 Register

What will I learn?

Week 1: The Mystery of the Exodus: Tradition, Source Text Criticism and Archaeology

The Exodus story has had a profound impact on the formation and continuation of the Jewish people. Indeed, without the Exodus, there might not have been a Jewish people. We will examine what is to be made of the lack of archaeological evidence for these events and what the Exodus saga has in common with other ancient Near Eastern literary and theological paradigms.  

Week 2: The Women of the Exodus Story

Shifrah, Puah, young Miriam, Moses’ mother and the Pharaoh’s daughter appear in the opening chapters of Exodus—their stories are relatively brief—yet they had a profound impact on the survival of the Hebrews in Egypt and on Moses’ emergence as the “deliverer” prophesied to Israel. We examine their stories and legacy.

Week 3: Moses the Child, Moses the Young Man and Reticent Prophet

We will examine rabbinic and biblical texts about Moses’ early years and look at the events that place him in the Pharaoh’s home as well as what first wrenches him away; his earliest encounters with God and how and why he is called to rescue Israel from Egypt.

Week 4: Clash of the Titans: The God of Israel versus the Pharaoh of Egypt

Debate about the scientific, historical or archaeological evidence for the Ten Plagues ignores the purpose of their role in the Exodus story. We will examine the purpose and significance of the Ten Plagues and how they are understood in the contemporary context.

Week 5: Escape from Egypt: the Song at the Sea and the Revelation at Sinai

How many left Egypt? Who wrote the Song at the Sea? What happened at Sinai? These questions have been and continue to be the subject of debate among scholars and laypeople alike. We will examine textual and current scholarship on these texts and their significance in the overall Exodus saga.

Week 6: Covenant, Redemption and Continuity

A covenantal relationship with God has been part of biblical tradition since its beginning. Redemption is also a recurring theme in Jewish tradition. We will explore how these concepts have evolved through the biblical narrative and discuss how they are understood and enacted today.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online. 

A copy of the Bible (any translation) is recommended, so that students can read selected passages from Exodus.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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