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Literature and Religion of Ancient Israel


Admission requirements

In addition to the general rules set out for admission, students are expected to have a good knowledge of Biblical Hebrew and Old Testament exegesis.


Can biblical text be dated linguistically? An emotionally heated scholarly debate and its impact on our understanding of the Hebrew Bible

The linguistic diversity within the Hebrew Bible has generated much interest and has led to a broad range of explanations, including chronology, dialects, genre, oral versus written layers, and the influenced of foreign languages. In the last decade a fierce debate is going on between those who claim that various phases of language development van be discerned in the Hebrew Bible (Archaic, Standard, Late), and those who deny this claim. A catalyst in the scholarly debate has been the publication of Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts by I. Young, R. Rezetko, and M. Ehrensvärd (London 2008). In the seminar various contributions to the debate from different perspectives will be discussed and evaluated. Due attention will be paid to the impact of the discussion on linguistic dating on our understanding of the origin and transmission of the Hebrew Bible and our knowledge about the world in which the Hebrew Bible originated.

Course objectives

Through a thematic case study, the students will get acquainted with major issues in Old Testament scholarship and current themes of biblical studies, such as the role of various approaches and subdisciplines (linguistics, rhetorics, discourse analysis and literary analysis) in exegesis. They will also be trained in critically reviewing scholarly publications.


See Time table

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

The assessment will be based on:

  • Participation in weekly meetings (20%)

  • Reading assignments and short presentations (30%)

  • Major presentation (20%)

  • Term paper (30%)


Yes, see Blackboard.

Reading list

Fassberg, S.E. and A. Hurvitz (eds.), Biblical Hebrew in its Northwest Semitic Setting: Typological and Historical Perspectives (Jerusalem, 2006)
Polak, F.H. ‘The Oral and the Written: Syntax, Stylistics and the Development of Biblical Prose Narrative’, Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 26 (1998), 59–105.
Polak, F.H. ‘Sociolinguistics: A Key to the Typology and the Social Background of Biblical Tradition’, Hebrew Studies 47 (2006), 115–162.
Rendsburg, G.A. Diglossia in Ancient Hebrew (AOS 72; New Haven, 1990).
Rendsburg, G.A., Linguistic Evidence fo the Northern Origin of Selected Psalms (SBLMS 43; Atlanta, 1990).
Young, I., Diversity in Pre-Exilic Hebrew (FAT 5; Tübingen, 1993)>
Young, I. (ed.), Biblical Hebrew: chronology and Typology (JSOT.S 369; Sheffield, 2003).
Young, I, R. Rezetko, and M. Ehrensvärd, Linguistic Dating of Biblical Texts (2 vols,; London, 2008).


Via uSis.
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information