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Mobile Ed: OT281 How We Got the Old Testament (5 hour course)

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In this course, ancient-language expert Dr. Michael Heiser gives a thorough background of the Hebrew Bible’s writing, composition, canonicity, and transmission through the ages. This course also surveys text criticism—what are Hebrew scholars today doing with these ancient manuscripts? How does their work affect English translations of the Bible? By understanding criticism, your personal Bible study will be richer, even with little knowledge of the Hebrew language.

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Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion you should be able to:

  • Identify basic facts about the scope and structure of the OT
  • Discuss the concepts of inspiration, inerrancy, and canon with respect to the OT
  • Describe the development of writing and scripts
  • Explain the compositional process of the OT
  • Trace the transmission of the OT from its beginning to modern times
  • Identify the various textual witnesses to the OT
  • Describe the nature of textual variants and the process of textual criticism
  • Discuss how to evaluate English translations

Course Outline


  • Introducing the Speaker
  • Introducing the Course

Unit 1: Preliminary Issues

  • The Term “Old Testament”
  • The Scope of the Old Testament
  • The Number of Old Testament Books
  • The Order and Structure of Old Testament Books
  • Titles of Old Testament Books
  • The Authority of the Old Testament
  • A Roadmap for the Course

Unit 2: Inspiration

  • Two Sides to Inspiration
  • A Flawed Conception of Inspiration
  • A Coherent Conception of Inspiration
  • Inspiration Is Not Dictation: Ezekiel
  • Inspiration Is Not Dictation: The Synoptic Gospels
  • Inspiration Is Not Dictation: Borrowed Material
  • Searching Ancient Near Eastern Literature for Old Testament References
  • Inspiration Is Not Dictation: Changing Laws
  • Summary of Inspiration

Unit 3: Scripts and Writing

  • Summary and Preview
  • The Development of Writing
  • Scripts
  • Early Alphabets
  • The Semitic Alphabet
  • Writing Materials
  • Writing Instruments
  • Searching Images for Information on Ancient Writing

Unit 4: The Process of Composition

  • Preview of the Composition Process
  • Oral Tradition
  • Literary Techniques
  • Known Sources
  • Lost Sources
  • Speculative Sources
  • Original Material
  • Collecting Material
  • Editing
  • Inspiration as a Process
  • Inspiration and Inerrancy

Unit 5: Canon and Canonicity

  • The Concept of Canon
  • Complicating Factors for the Canon
  • The Canon through History

Unit 6: Early Transmission of the Hebrew Bible

  • Manuscript Evidence Prior to 1947
  • The Aleppo Codex
  • The Leningrad Codex
  • Exploring the Leningrad Codex
  • The Cairo Genizah
  • Summary of Manuscript Evidence Prior to 1947
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Textual Evidence from Qumran
  • The Hebrew Bible in the Exile
  • The Old Testament from 586–400 BC
  • A Book in Transition
  • The Old Testament from 400 BC to AD 100
  • The Rise of a Scribal Class
  • The Rise of Multiple Textual Traditions
  • The Local Texts Theory
  • The Masoretic Text in the Local Text Theory
  • The Surviving Texts Theory
  • Scribal Practices at Qumran, Part 1
  • Scribal Practices at Qumran, Part 2
  • Viewing Biblical Dead Sea Scrolls in Logos and Online

Unit 7: A Period of Ancient Translations

  • The Septuagint
  • Comparing the Septuagint and the Hebrew Bible
  • Aramaic Targums
  • Later Translations
  • Creating a Layout of Ancient Translations

Unit 8: The Hebrew Bible from AD 100–1000

  • The Importance of AD 100
  • The Role of the Scribes
  • Scribal Innovations
  • Marking Problems in the Text
  • The Masorah
  • Viewing and Searching for Ketiv-Qere Readings
  • Vocalization System
  • Variation in the Masoretic Tradition
  • Important Manuscripts

Unit 9: The Hebrew Bible since AD 1000

  • Transition to Modern Editions
  • Pre-Reformational Editions of the Old Testament
  • Editions of the Old Testament from the 1500s
  • Editions of the Old Testament from the 18th and 19th Centuries
  • Editions of the Old Testament from the 20th Century
  • Editions of the Old Testament in the 21st Century

Unit 10: Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: Overview

  • Preview of the Process
  • Determining Variants
  • Gathering Evidence: The Specialist
  • Gathering Evidence: The Non-Specialist
  • Examining Textual Variants with the NET Bible
  • Evaluating Evidence

Unit 11: Textual Criticism of the Old Testament: Variant Types

  • Unintentional Variants: Letter Confusion
  • Unintentional Variants: Word Division
  • Unintentional Variants: Vowel Pointing
  • Unintentional Variants: Eye Skipping
  • Unintentional Variants: Haplography
  • Unintentional Variants: Dittography
  • Unintentional Variants: Graphic Transposition
  • Unintentional Variants: Faulty Hearing
  • Intentional Variants

Unit 12: Principles for Evaluating Variants

  • Determining the Best Reading
  • Internal Considerations
  • External Considerations
  • Using Favorites to Collect Key Resources on Textual Criticism
  • An Example
  • Studying a Text Critical Problem in Isaiah 8:11
  • Revisiting Inspiration and Inerrancy

Unit 13: The Hebrew Bible and English Translations

  • English Translations
  • Evaluating English Translations


  • Summary of the Course

Product Details

  • Title: OT281 How We Got the Old Testament
  • Instructor: Michael S. Heiser
  • Publisher: Lexham Press
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Product Type: Logos Mobile Education
  • Resource Type: Courseware, including transcripts, audio, and video resources
  • Courses: 1
  • Video Hours: 5
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About Michael S. Heiser

Dr. Michael S. Heiser is a former Scholar-in-Residence for Faithlife Corporation, the makers of Logos Bible Software. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Awakening School of Theology and Ministry at Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida. His varied academic background enables him to operate in the realm of critical scholarship and the wider Christian community. His experience in teaching at the undergraduate level and writing for the layperson have both directly contributed to Logos’ goal of adapting scholarly tools for nonspecialists.

Dr. Heiser earned his PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages and holds and MA in ancient history and Hebrew studies. He is the coeditor of Old Testament Greek Pseudepigrapha with Morphology and Semitic Inscriptions: Analyzed Texts and English Translations, and can do translation work in roughly a dozen ancient languages, including Biblical Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and Ugaritic cuneiform. He also specializes in Israelite religion (especially Israel’s divine council), contextualizing biblical theology with Israelite and ancient Near Eastern religion, Jewish binitarianism, biblical languages, ancient Semitic languages, textual criticism, comparative philology, and Second Temple period Jewish literature. In addition, he was named the 2007 Pacific Northwest Regional Scholar by the Society of Biblical Literature.

Getting the most out of Mobile Ed

Logos Mobile Education is a highly effective cross-platform learning environment that integrates world class teaching with the powerful study tools and theological libraries available in Logos Bible Software. Every course provides links to additional resources and suggested readings that supplement the lecture material at the end of every transcript segment.

This course was produced with screencast videos. These videos provide tutorials showing you how to use Logos Bible Software in ways that are tied directly into the content of the course. We are now producing Activities resources as a replacement for screencast videos. We plan on updating this course to include this additional Activities resource in the future for no extra charge.



4 ratings

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  1. Marc Romero

    Marc Romero


  2. Benjamin Allen
    I really like this course, it had a lot to do with the textual criticism. I also appreciate Heiser's method by sewing up the course in the end, it really helped me understand the material once I saw how it applied to me, as a believer to know how we got the Old Testament.
  3. James Brooks

    James Brooks


  4. Dr. Ken

    Dr. Ken


    Even better than its companion since much of this to most people is relatively unknown! Excellent resource to understand how it all unfolded into what we got today and how significant are recent discoveries in archaeology are in our understanding so we continue to study rather than assume it has all already been figured out by those before us!
  5. Rick Stomm

    Rick Stomm


    Dr. Heiser, what is your position on the 'Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy'?


Collection value: $274.99
Save $85.00 (30%)
Payment plans available in cart