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Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future by Emory University

280 ratings

About the Course

With its walls razed to ground by Babylon’s armies, Jerusalem joined a long line of ancient vanquished cities—from Ur and Nineveh and Persepolis to Babylon itself. While some recovered from the destruction, others did not. But none responded to political catastrophe by fashioning the kind of elaborate and enduring monument to their own downfall that we find in the Bible. Most conquered populations viewed their subjugation as a source of shame. They consigned it to oblivion, opting instead to extol the golden ages of the past. The biblical authors in contrast reacted to loss by composing extensive writings that acknowledge collective failure, reflect deeply upon its causes, and discover thereby a ground for collective hope. Working through colorful biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts, and drawing on an array of comparative examples, the course illustrates the thoroughgoing manner with which biblical authors responded to defeat by advancing a demotic agenda that places the community at the center. The aim of the biblical authors was to create a nation, and they sought to realize this goal via a shared text, which includes stories and songs, wisdom and laws. This corpus of writings belongs, without a doubt, to humanity’s greatest achievements. Whereas the great civilizations of the Near East invested their energies and resources into monuments of stone that could be destroyed by invading armies, the biblical authors left a literary legacy that has been intensively studied until the present day. More important, these authors’ visionary response to defeat brought to light a radical new wisdom: the notion that a people is greater than the state which governs it, and that a community can survive collapse when all of its members can claim a piece of the pie and therefore have a reason to take an active part in its collective life....

Top reviews


Aug 19, 2020

The course develops ways of considering the Hebrew Bible that empowers a believer in another faith tradition with a greater scope to look beyond assumptions about literal truths and polemic tropes.


Oct 11, 2016

It's a very good course if you want to know how the bible came into being, events that happened from the very beginning and how the bible continues to remain and be read even today. Wonderful!

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26 - 50 of 95 Reviews for The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future

By Jose A

Mar 31, 2020

Excellent information, well taught and definitely a must course to understand why and how the bible was written. I like how professor Jacob L. Wright approaches the bible from a different perspectives and how he synthesized everything to make sense.

By David H

Jan 22, 2018

This course is very involved but logical and follows a nice path of learning. Anyone wishing to see and understand how life was and how it was perceived and reported is quite interesting and gets the grey matter working. Thoroughly enjoyable.

By Randall L T

Jun 17, 2016

Really fantastic. A lot of great information and insight and interesting interpertations. A lot of superb thoughts to think about. Very well taught. Kept my interest through the entire series. Professor was easy to follow. A lot for me to

By Kimberly H

Jun 9, 2021

I thought I'd enrolled in a course to fill in some gaps in my concepts of early world history and religious history. Instead, what I found was a solid foundation for a program in the Humanities that will keep me inquiring for years.

By Helene S

Sep 7, 2016

I just started this class this morning and Professor Wright is great. Usually I find the professors in a one on one lecture such as this, either speaking too fast or just boring. He is terrific. I have enjoyed the lessons very much.

By 周润泽

Jan 30, 2019

It helped me so much not only in interpretation of Bible but also in my understanding of formation of Nationalism. It even helped me to study early North American history and New England colonists' psychology and life.

By Sonia S K

Aug 24, 2020

I found this course rich with content and excellent in providing a new perspective. Dr. Wright describes everything really well. The interviews with the experts were informative, too. I thoroughly enjoyed the course.

By Harvey W

Nov 5, 2019

Enjoyed the historical context of the creation of Biblical texts and their redaction. Interesting perspective on the fundamental purpose of the texts from our vantage point 2.5 millennia down the pipe.


Sep 5, 2017

Excellent course, I strongly recommend it for everyone. I didn´t have previous knowledge about the topic and I learn a lot and manage to pass it. Excellent videos with subtitles in different languages.

By Lucy I D L R T

Mar 24, 2017

El profesor es muy dinámico y ayuda a ver la situación geo-política de Israel, las ventajas y desventajas de estar en el cruce de camino de dos potencias rivales.

By Linda H

Feb 3, 2021

I have now taken this course several times. Each time I go a little deeper and study a little more. This is truly an excellent course. Highly recommended!!

By Stanislava Z

May 31, 2023

It's a very informative and quite challenging course. Personally, I learned a lot and definitely would need to go through all materials several times.

By Patricia N (

Sep 13, 2018

The first of many classes I intend to take on this subject. Please have others.

A great class that brought many new thoughts and many revelations.

By Dina R

Jun 8, 2016

Very interesting discussion about the writing of the Hebrew Bible. Particularly enjoyed the interviews with experts in the field.

By Juan F R M

Apr 27, 2023

Muy interesntes estudios e hipótesis bíblicas.

Muy buen docente el profesor Wright.

Interesante material y entrevistados de lujo.

By Clifton L

Jul 17, 2019

This is one of the best courses I have taken with Coursera. the lectures were excellent and the readings were also wonderful.

By Teague F

May 7, 2022

Opened my eyes to the value of the Old Testament not just for my faith but for society. Recommend this course to all.

By David K

Feb 16, 2017

I found this course very interesting, and learnt a great deal about how and why the Bible came to be written.

By Robert T K

May 25, 2020

This is a good introduction to Old Testament archaeology and analysis of the development of its scriptures.

By Luís M G d S A

Jun 21, 2020

Very interesting course to get a full insight in the topic and on the different research paths.

By Lim K B J

Apr 15, 2020

Have given me more historical and objective approach to the Bible, great course ! Thank you !

By Richard H

May 23, 2016

I like Dr. Wright's observation of the Levant bridge between the 2 main powers of the day.

By Sissi D

May 1, 2020

Excellent study, I will be taking more from Emory University! Thank you very much!


Mar 25, 2016

Great course! As a non christian I learn a lot about western culture and history

By Macx S

Dec 6, 2016

Very great course for believers and non belivers, packed with useful information