Abraham, Jacob & Joseph: Stories of Israel's Ancestors

Lecture Series Description:The first fathers in the Hebrew Bible, the patriarchs, are portrayed in the most compelling narratives of the Hebrew Bible.  These stories contain life and death struggles, sex, violence, betrayal, and transformative spiritual experiences.  Genesis 12-50 portrays Abraham, his grandson Jacob, and Joseph who is Jacob’s son.  These men and the strong women who share their lives and destiny, are the progenitors of the ancient nation of Israel and the stories they tell shape subsequent Israelite belief.

Lecture Series Information: Tuesdays, 1:00-2:45 p.m., starting September 21, 2021, O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, University of St. Thomas St. Paul Campus and simulcast online via Zoom.

Lecture Series Educator: David Penchansky is professor emeritus from the University of St. Thomas, where he taught in the Theology Department for 29 years.  He continues to teach in the Selim Center and other venues.  His most recent publications are a commentary on the Book of Hosea as part of the forthcoming Jerome Biblical Commentary for the 21st Century, and Solomon and the Ant: The Qur’an in Dialogue with the Bible.  He continues to study the interplay between the Qur’an and the Bible, and he is active in Islamic-Christian dialogue.

Fee for the series: $90.00 per person

To register on-line with a credit card on our secure page, click on this link: https://secure.touchnet.com/C20237_ustores/web/store_main.jsp?STOREID=15&SINGLESTORE=true

To print out a form to complete and then mail in with a check or cash payment, click on this link: ‌Fall 2021 Paper Registration Form

Link to campus map: St. Paul Campus Map (82020)

Detailed Lecture Series Syllabus:

September 21

Class # 1  Abraham and Lot – Genesis 12-20

In the first half of the Abraham narrative, he leaves his ancestral homeland with his wife and nephew, and then the story focuses on his nephew Lot, living in Sodom, which God is about to destroy.  Abraham begs for the lives of the people of Sodom and challenges God’s governance of the world.


September 28

Class # 2 Abraham and his sons  Genesis 21-26

In this part of the Abraham narrative, he fathers two sons, one with his wife’s enslaved handmaid, and one miraculously with Sarah.  Then God commands him to slaughter his son.


October 5

Class # 3 Jacob in Isaac’s household  Genesis 27-28

Jacob is Abraham’s grandson.  The Bible characterizes him as a trickster, taking what he wants through deception.  He steals his (slightly) older brother’s birthright, and then tricks his father into giving him his brother’s blessing.


October 12

Class # 4 Jacob and his wives  Genesis 29-26

Jacob flees his father’s household and settles with relatives in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).  He marries four women, two sisters (distant cousins) and their enslaved handmaids.  Chaos ensues.


October 19

Class # 5  Joseph and his family

The Joseph story is the longest continuous narrative in the Hebrew Bible.  In this section, Joseph’s dreams get him in trouble with his brothers and his father.  The brothers sell Joseph to a traveling group of slave traders.


October 26

Class # 6  Joseph in Egypt

Joseph served in the household of a wealthy Egyptian, and is cast into prison because of the false accusations of the wealthy Egyptian’s wife.  Because of his dreams, the Pharaoh appointed second in command over Egypt.  He reunites with his brother and father.