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  • Dr. Nili Samet, Zalman Shamir Department of Bible

    Dr. Nili Samet, Zalman Shamir Department of Bible

    Massive Open Online Course in Bible Returns

    Date: 2019-10-28 Hour: 7:53

    This week a popular Bar-Ilan University Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Bible returns to the World Wide Web. 

    Offered by the Zalman Shamir Department of Bible, The Bible in Light of the Ancient Near East is an introduction to the Bible set against the background of the rich archaeological findings from the Ancient Near East. The goal of the nine-week course is to introduce students to the fascinating world of Israel’s neighboring civilizations in biblical times, and to offer a comparative study that examines the relationship between the Bible and these civilizations.

    The tuition-free, nine-week course will also provide a new understanding of the ancient Near Eastern context of such central biblical themes and genres as creation traditions, flood stories, the Tower of Babel story, law literature, prophecy and wisdom. The professionally-produced course combines videos filmed at the British Museum, images of many relevant findings, and a variety of online activities. 

    Since first being offered two years ago, approximately 10,000 students from around the world have taken the course.  Among them learners from many African, Asian and South American countries, including several dozen from Nigeria, approximately one dozen from Morocco, several hundred from Brazil, and about a hundred from India.  There have also been participants from many countries in the Middle East, including Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran.  Most participants in the course hail from the United States, United Kingdom and Israel.

    The MOOC is taught by Dr. Nili Samet, who teaches Bible and Assyriology in the Shamir Bible Department. A member of the Bar-Ilan faculty since 2011, her research interests include the study of the Bible in its ancient Near Eastern context, Biblical and Mesopotamian Wisdom and Lamentation literature, Sumerian language and culture, and Biblical Hebrew.  Dr. Samet has received numerous honors, including the Alon Fellowship for Outstanding Young Researchers and the Harry Starr Fellowship at Harvard University.

    "Students engage in discussions of the course material in the course forums. This is also where students tell co-learners about themselves and what sparked their interest in this topic. The variety of backgrounds and approaches is fascinating," says Prof. Samet.