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Survey of Old Testament Torah

Students will examine cultural & theological concepts presented in the first four books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers). This will primarily include: patriarchy, matriarchy, tribalism, priesthood, covenant, sacrifice, worship, and law. Students will have the opportunity to deeply dive into the stories of our ancestors from 5,000 years ago in order to become equipped with tools to make sense of these very old passages. Most importantly, students will be able to root themselves in the Tradition of our ancient forefathers -a Tradition that we share as Christians to this day. Class Objectives:1. To become acquainted with significant stories, characters, and instructions from the first four books of the Bible. 2. To learn how to start the process of “exegesis”, which is to say, learning about the world within the text instead of trying to make the text fit into our current world. 3. To compare and contrast what elements of the Torah the Church still holds to today; and where we see this in our liturgical life.
Class Structure:
Before each class, students will have been expected to read a couple pre-selected short passages from the Bible. During the class we will ask hard questions, learn about any cultural and ideological differences, compare translations, and discuss our thoughts. As a teacher I will clarify and give small lectures about foreign cultural and ideological ideas. However, I will encourage students to really examine stories for themselves. The more the students discuss the ask questions, the more we can uncover together.
Class Units:
Unit 1: God’s Promises: Importance of Patriarchs & Matriarchs
Unit 2a: God’s Claim: YHWH vs. the gods
Unit2b: God’s Claim: YHWH of the Wilderness
Unit 3: God’s Tabernacle: Worshiping the One True God
Unit 4: God’s Law: A Holy Way of Life
Unit 5: God of the Beginning: Death of Chaos (We will cycle back to the beginning of Genesis at the last unit. This is an intentional choice that will make sense once the other major themes of the Torah have been discussed).

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

  • NRSV, NASB, or OSB translation of the Bible.

Sarah Smith– Shalom! Or should I say, שלום! My name is Sarah Smith and I am very excited to join St. Raphael School this year. I am a wife, a mom of two young kids, and an avid reader. I joined the Orthodox Faith with my Chrismation along with my husband, and now as a family live the faith. Before I inquired into the Orthodox faith I served as a youth minister in an other faith tradition. I love the honest questions, the search for truth, and the fun-loving nature of teenagers.
Old Testament is more than something I study – it’s my absolute passion! I received my BA in Biblical Studies at Olivet Nazarene University in 2013 and continued my education with an MDiv at Asbury Theological Seminary in 2017 where I spent all my electives on the Ancient Near East. Some of my specialties include Biblical archaeology – I spent a summer living in Israel digging at Tel Abel Beth Maacah – as well as Biblical Hebrew as I was the teaching assistant and grader for two years in Seminary).
I came into the Orthodox Faith by way of Old Testament study – when I first attended the Divine Liturgy I was brought to tears because I saw the worship of the Old Testament taking place in front of me. My year as a catechumen was spent wrestling with theological ideas and personal ideas I had to let go of, but I never looked back. Orthodoxy is a clear continuation of the Faith of our ancient ancestors. I’m excited to get to know you and I hope to see you in one of my classes!

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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